So: Jack Teixera.
D’affaire Snowden was about ten years ago, oddly enough. It was a very different political climate at the time: Trump was still just “a celebrity”. The ongoing War on Terror, initially started by GWB and his GOP a decade before, was now associated with Democrats in general and with Obama in particular. (I’m still not entirely sure how the GOP pulled off that trick, but they did).
One thing was the same, however: There was already a self-described “Left” that despised Democrats in general, and Obama in particular. The mainstream outlets, having been calibrated towards the GOP for decades, were more than happy to oblige them. Stories that didn’t get much traction during the GWB Administration were suddenly very important, and got through to the general public.
This is why nobody really cared much about the use of drones in the Middle East before ~2010 or so. This is also why Mark Klein’s similar (and frankly more substantive) revelations back in 2006 didn’t stick at all. There was no way to use it to hurt Democrats. (I mention this just in case anybody is tempted to believe that any of this is exclusive to the Trump Era, or even new). There are still questions I have about Snowden that will likely never be answered– chief among them, “Why Hong Kong?”. You don’t go to Hong Kong to defect to China, not in 2013. HK was still barely China then. You’d go to Beijing or to Shenzhen (as a techie, pretending to attend a business meeting or conference).
Anyway: Back to 2023. Here’s what’s known with reasonable certainty at this very early date:
- JT owned and ran a game-oriented, invite-only Discord Server named “Thug Shaker Central”.
- A significant portion of the invitees were Eastern Bloc nationals.
- JT was a known right-wing evangelical, probably MAGA, and allegedly racist/antisemitic
- It’s still not 100% clear if JT was the actual Leaker (though most of the reports are stating it that way). Just that it was “his” group where the leak occurred. More on that will come out today after his court appearance.
And… that’s it, really. Of course, no need to wait for all the facts to have an opinion… This is America! The rhetorical battle lines have already been drawn. Neo-Confederate MTG is already on the record defending him, claiming he’s being persecuted for being a “white, male, anti-war Christian”. Curious choice of profession for someone “anti-war”, but I digress. Thug Shaker Central was, apparently, a Christian group where “racist memes were shared”. (I strongly suspect that cartoon frogs were involved). A tightknit group that had “bonded during COVID”, which would place young JT at 17-18yo when he founded his channel.
Now, the Content: US analysts’ findings on Ukrainian capabilities and troop placements. Apparently the US does indeed have a few troops on the ground, there (because of course we do). And, yes, allies do tend to spy on each other (“Trust, but Verify”). It’s not currently clear how much any of this damages US standing with its allies, but Zelensky himself refers to the issue as “dust in the eyes”, so there’s probably not any immediate damage to US interests in the area. We’ll see.
That said, the gamer focus does look… very familiar, doesn’t it? Recall Gamergate in 2014. Also recall how that meme-stream merged with the greater alt-right movement by 2016 to coalesce into what we now call MAGA. Bannon realized that he could use the same basic techniques to create an army of gold-minters in World of Warcraft to “flood the zone with shit” on social media (particularly Twitter) far more effectively than Breitbart News ever could.
I have a few questions of my own, here:
- Was Teixeira already in USAF when he founded “Thug Shaker Central”? Or was this before?
- What other Social Media presence did he have? Probably too young for FB but what about twitter/reddit/TikTok/etc?
- This group was invite-only. That implies that he knew at least some of them beforehand. How did he meet them?
- How did this kid pass the background check?
- How did this kid get access to all that material? I don’t see any immediate Need to Know, so I suspect a Manning-style case of just stealing them from a server on base.
I’m just going to say this out loud: This has Bannon’s fingerprints all over it. The Gamer aspect. The Disgruntled Military aspect. The Fifth Column aspect. The racist/antisemitic aspect. The pro-Russia/anti-NATO aspect. Shit, there’s even Pepe the Frog.
Bannon’s the type to Crow out Loud on his podcast about what he’s up to, so we’ll find out soon enough I suspect.
I am curious to see how this plays out over the next few weeks.