US spy scandals reveal affinities of king and commoner


Wow Mao and Thug Shaker are not names of exotic cocktails. They are US audience-focused social media ‘gamer’ channels that were among the first to circulate ‘Top Secret’ classified United States’ military documents that began to be leaked online since October 2022.

This slow trickle of ‘Top Secret’ documents was first noticed in early 2023. The entire United States military establishment was initially stunned by the sudden trickle of State secrets with no indication of a source. Worse, foreign Governments and defence establishments found themselves threatened by the public leaking of data pertaining to them.

Did US intelligence circles secretly and improperly pressure their counterparts in South Korea – a vital US ally in Asia – to persuade their Government to support Ukraine in the war against Russia? By March this year, news media were reporting South Korean outrage over this leak, along with reportage of similar uproar in defence and political establishments of Washington’s European allies. Embarrassed US defence officials quickly labelled some of the leaked documents as fakes or partially doctored.

Minecraft, a well known web gamer channel with millions of players across the globe, was also detected circulating these same secret documents. Some Sri Lankans are known to be regular gamers on Minecraft. But do not rush to get your child or sibling or best friend off this (often addictive) games channel. Simply check whether they had come across any of this exciting ‘Top Secret’ stuff and tell them not to click or open such a page or portal. Such access simply attracts spy robots to one’s computer.

Political activism


Donald Trump 

Edward Snowden

Frantic digital hunting through the Web finally traced the leaks to a very young cyber intelligence technician of the Air National Guard (ANG) of Massachusetts State named Jack Teixeira.

At just 21 years, Teixeira is remarkably young to be a professional ‘spy’. But Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) revealed an ominous, if amateurish, political activism seemingly at a private individual level without any direct organisational backing. Of course, that is not to dismiss possible indirect manipulation through proxies embedded in those highly secretive ‘chat’ groups that make up virtual communities.

Encased in the generic web culture of cryptic messages and cryptic identities or ‘representations’, there are literally thousands of extremist cyber clubs of diverse ideologies, some conventionally Right or Left and others quite individualistically flamboyant, from New Age to Nihilist. They exist on the edges of the Dark Web, that eerie virtual subterranean which combines both the cyber criminal underworld and politico-cultural underground, all within a complex, convoluted digital universe. Bellingcat, itself a web entity comprising a professional cyber forensics team, provides some details of Teixeira’s cyber life.

Online, Teixeira had reportedly frequented Right-wing, violence-oriented virtual communities filled with racial hatred towards non-Whites and spouting extremist violence slogans. In his secretive chat group named Thug Shaker Central, on the vast Discord web channel, he is believed to have built a small fandom with his militarist bravado exploiting the trappings of his job as an ANG intelligence technician.

In what appears to be dramatic demonstrations of his military credentials, Teixeira had uploaded military data and analysis documents that he could access at the military base where he worked using his ‘Top Secret’ security clearance.   

Young amateur show-off that he seems to have been, Teixeira’s schoolboyish cyber exploits finally resulted in this leak of a small series of documents, mainly in relation to the Ukraine war, which is his designated sector of work. To leak these documents, Teixeira had simply done manual transcripts.

He had also done amateurish ‘screen grabs’ (video copies) of ‘Top Secret’ document pages with military subject titles showing various security classification stamps across the pages.

Great dumping of classified data

Teixeira’s little operation is kid’s stuff in comparison with the millions of data sets directly digitally released to the World Wide Web by Edward Snowden (Government surveillance expert) in 2013 (He now lives in Russia). Before that, in 2010, there was the equally great dumping of classified data especially on the controversial Iraq and Afghan invasions by soldier Chelsea Manning. Both those actions were done by seasoned professionals and done in a far more systematic way causing far more intelligence damage to US and Western Allied interests.

More importantly, these two massive leaks were done in collaboration with human rights activists and networks. Both Manning and Snowden won massive public sympathy due to their clear, strong postures against authoritarian structures linked to the militaries of the US specifically and also of the Western powers. Their subsequent prosecution and convictions won sympathy from social movements worldwide.

It remains to be seen how much support by pro-democracy social movements will be extended toward Teixeira’s case.  This is because Teixeira seems to be embedded in shadowy Right-wing authoritarian cult groups concentrated around cyber war gaming and espousing White supremacist violence.

Worse, in real life, he was found to have accumulated what federal prosecutors are now calling an “arsenal” of modern assault weapons. These range from old-fashioned bolt action rifles to the modern AR-15 automatic assault rifle made notorious by its constant usage in shooting massacres that frequently occur throughout the United States. Most Sri Lankans would react with horror to such a heap of deadly weapons (whatever the age of the owner). But many, if not most, Americans would consider such weapons, duly licensed, as normal civilian equipment – as is now being argued by Teixeira’s defence lawyers.  

Last week the young, but clearly politically aware, Guardsman was charged with no less than six counts under the US Espionage Act. He now faces possibly decades in prison and up to a million dollars in fines under espionage and other criminal charges. Teixeira was serving in the intelligence wing of the state ANG. The Russians are claiming that the whole, supposed, ‘leak’ of American military secrets is actually a ‘false flag’ operation by US intelligence to confuse the enemy and the world at large. The US military and the Attorney General’s Department seem to have very quickly collected enough evidence to launch a prosecution within weeks of Teixeira’s detection and arrest.

Stark contrast

Such rapid punitive action against this very young and junior soldier is in stark contrast with the two or more years taken to arrest ex-President Donald Trump on charges also under the Espionage Act. The former President was also charged last week with wilfully, illegally, misappropriating and retaining and even hiding many classified documents that are vital to the interests of his country.

What is yet to be revealed is evidence whether, like Teixeira, Trump actually passed on those secrets to anyone else, i.e. any foreign adversaries or even allies. Misappropriation and retention of vital State secrets outside authorised areas are the common crimes both suspects are charged with. Teixeira, however, has been also charged with actually, and actively, ‘betraying’ State secrets by posting them online, although the volume of leaks is tiny.   

Significantly, both Trump and Teixeira seem to have had similarly very unsystematic Modus Operandi.  Trump’s ‘retention’ of secret State documents seems to have been done at the very last moments of his Presidency – hurried collections of documents and equally hurried, careless, haphazard storage in private homes and even in a chandelier-lit bathroom.

Trump clumsily acknowledged, and even boasted about his possession of these documents and continued to do so even as State agencies began demanding their return to their normal authorised storage areas such as the National Archives. Teixeira actually uploaded his small cache of “military secrets” as a boastful act and to show off. Indeed, that show-off action seems to have had a cascade effect with others down the cyber pathways also getting these documents and showing them off to their friends and fans online.

And their motives also seemingly indicate a cultural parallel between ‘king’ and ‘commoner’ – between a President and a young, junior soldier. Both emerged from rightwing political backgrounds with clear links to White racism.

If Teixeira seems an ardent gun lover, Trump sought and still seeks support from the whole population of American gun lovers – i.e. the several million members of the influential (but recently declared bankrupt) National Rifle Association (NRA), which has resisted all attempts at gun control.

The significant contrast is the fact of Trump being an already aged, mature, urbane, rich, adult and positioned at the apex of State power, with the real potential of becoming President again in 2024. Teixeira is a poor, rural youth positioned at the very foot of the career ladder.

In this light it is arguable that the twice-impeached and federally indicted former President and TV star Donald Trump had a far greater self-awareness of his potentially criminal actions and should have been able to restrain his boastful instincts whereas, the village youth Teixeira does not have any of that capacity to weigh his actions and behaviour.

Both now face criminal prosecution. The world will now watch the outcome of “free world’s leader” USA’s justice system. 

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