Portrait of the Leaker as an Angry Man (UPDATED)
the Departments of Defense and Justice continue the FBI ends their search for the fellow who leaked all sorts of secret documents via Discord with the arrest of Jack Teixeira, the Washington Post managed to get a hold of a couple of the Discord members, one of whom was a close follower of the leaker, called “OG” in the group. Based on their description of OG and what the WaPo could get outside of that, we can come to some educated guesses about the source of the leak. OG is very likely sympathetic to Russia and clearly hostile to Ukraine. While what follows below was written before Teixeira was named and arrested, it still seems valid as of Thursday, 13 April.
Far-Right and Pro-Russia Views
We can start with how the group itself was formed:
United by their mutual love of guns, military gear and God, the group of roughly two dozen — mostly men and boys — formed an invitation-only clubhouse in 2020 on Discord, an online platform popular with gamers. But they paid little attention last year when the man some call “OG” posted a message laden with strange acronyms and jargon. The words were unfamiliar, and few people read the long note, one of the members explained. But he revered OG, the elder leader of their tiny tribe, who claimed to know secrets that the government withheld from ordinary people.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with “love of guns, military gear and God,” but in the case of OG, there is evidence of a much darker worldview.
In a video seen by The Post, the man who the member said is OG stands at a shooting range, wearing safety glasses and ear coverings and holding a large rifle. He yells a series of racial and antisemitic slurs into the camera, then fires several rounds at a target.
So now we know OG, said to be “in his early to mid-20s,” has a history of racism and antisemitism. We can add to this the landing spot for the documents he stole – “bear vs pig.” (“Pig” is a Russian slur for Ukrainians, while Russia’s national animal is the brown bear.) Finally, there is the leak itself, which is heavy on Ukraine pessimism and victories for Russia’s secret diplomacy, according to The Hill.
Actual Spy or Fellow Traveler?
For all the leaks and the interview can reveal, there is one question they cannot answer: was this an actual espionage operation? There were foreign members in the Discord group; it’s possible one of them was a Russian agent. We do know someone altered at least a document or two to minimize Russian casualties in the war (VOA).
Other information in the leak, however, points away from OG being a recruited asset. While the news of Egypt looking to arms Russia behind America’s back is certainly embarrassing for the United States, it’s not necessarily something the Russians wanted to be public. The same holds true for Russia’s success with the United Arab Emirates.
Even the info exposing American intelligence gleaned from Russia can be seen either way. Sure, the Kremlin would love to know where it needs to tighten its own security, but exposure to the public was clearly sub-optimal.
If I had to guess, I would say OG is more likely to be a fellow traveler: pro-Putin and anti-Ukraine, but not directly working with the Kremlin. Of course, that didn’t make the leak any less damaging.
And If That’s Not Bad Enough…
I remain confident that OG will be found. His Discord compatriots knew the state in which he lived, which tells me he won’t be that hard to find. Those very Discord friends should be a concern, though. One of them is already deep into conspiracy nonsense.
The member said he’s confident the authorities will find OG. But when they do, he won’t be charged. Instead, he believes, OG will be imprisoned without due process at Guantánamo Bay or disappeared to a “black site,” if he’s not “assassinated” for what he knows.