Covert campaign appears designed to try and whip up yet more hatred against Russia
On April 12, the FBI arrested Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman, at his home in North Dighton, Massachusetts, for allegedly leaking dozens of sensitive U.S. intelligence documents about the war in Ukraine, which was billed as the biggest national security breach in at least a decade.
Charged under the Espionage Act, Teixeira allegedly shared the documents in a gaming network he was part of on the online social media platform, Discord.
On April 17, The Wall Street Journal reported that the documents only came to the attention of Pentagon authorities after four of them had been posted by a pro-Russian blogger known as Donbas Devushka (aka “Donbas Girl”) on her Telegram channel.
A pro-Ukraine group found out that “Donbas Girl” was actually a 37-year-old U.S. Navy veteran from New Jersey named Sarah Bils who, in 2020, attained the rank of E-7, a senior NCO position.
Going by the name Mila Medvedev, Mils had faked a Russian accent while falsely claiming to have been born in Luhansk. Hosting a pro-Russian podcast, she was raising money for Donbas freedom fighters, though may have actually been pocketing it herself.
Mils’ fake Russian persona made it appear that Russia was behind the document leak when her Navy background suggests otherwise.
It seems more than likely that the pro-Ukraine group unwittingly exposed a covert disinformation operation whose purpose was to smear Russia yet again by linking it with a major intelligence leak, while deflecting public attention away from the content of the leaked documents, which were taken down from the internet.
These documents help puncture the official U.S. government narrative about the Ukraine conflict, which holds that the U.S. is helping Ukraine slowly grind the Russians down and that Ukraine is winning.
According to CBS News, one of the more pressing documents, dated February 23, states that Ukraine’s Buk (SA-11) air defense systems will be depleted by March 31, 2023, and its S300 (SA-10) missile systems will be depleted by May 2, 2023—which would pose a major challenge to Ukraine, leaving it vulnerable to air attacks by Russia.
Another document asserts that Ukraine’s air capability is at 68% whereas Russia’s is at 92%, giving Russia a considerable advantage, and another that Russia is killing Ukrainians at a seven-to-one ratio.
Additional documents include data on Ukrainian forces’ use of ammunition, the amount of equipment destroyed, information on illegal sabotage by Ukrainian agents inside Belarus and Russia, and information on secret U.S. drone flights and foreign fighters in Ukraine that points to deeper U.S. military engagement than is officially being acknowledged.
The documents were further embarrassing in revealing that the U.S. spies even on its closest allies, like South Korea and Israel, whom the U.S. was urging to become more involved in the Ukraine conflict despite the proliferation of neo-Nazi battalions on the Ukrainian side.
Making Out the Russians to Be Barbarians and Other Lies
Mils has repeatedly lied, which offers another clue that she has been involved in a covert operation.
Serving last at the Whidby Island base in the Pacific Northwest, Mils claimed to have been kicked out of the Navy because of her “left wing views,” though was actually dismissed following a 2021 drunk driving incident in which her Audi rear ended a van.
On her twitter account, the “Donbas Girl” posted inflammatory material in which she celebrated the deaths of Ukrainian soldiers.
This would fit the agenda of the CIA in trying to make out the Russians to be barbarians when Ukraine has run a website based in Langley, Virginia, the CIA’s headquarters, Myrotvorets, celebrating the deaths and mutilation of Russian soldiers.
Playing Operational Games
On April 7, Reuters published a story titled: “Russia Likely Behind U.S. Military Document Leak, U.S. Officials Say,” which suggested that Russia or pro-Russian elements were “likely behind the leak of several classified U.S. military documents posted on social media” that offered “a partial, month-old snapshot of the war in Ukraine.”
According to the U.S. officials quoted in the story who remained anonymous, the documents appeared to have been altered to lower the number of casualties suffered by Russian forces, claiming in one case that Russia had lost between 16,000 and 17,500 men and women, when the U.S. claims the real figure is around 200,000.
A Ukrainian presidential official said on Friday that the leak contained a “very large amount of fictitious information” and looked like a Russian disinformation operation to sow doubts about Ukraine’s planned counter-offensive. “These are just standard elements of operational games by Russian intelligence. And nothing more,” Mykhailo Podolyak said in a written statement.
If Russian intelligence is capable of playing “operational games,” so are the U.S. and CIA, which have been consistently advancing disinformation about Russia over the last decade—and since the Cold War first began.
A clear precedent was set in 2016 when the CIA and other intelligence agencies claimed that Russia was behind the leak of documents from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that exposed the rigging of the Democratic Party primary in favor of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.
However, a study by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPs) determined, based on the speed of the delivery of the documents, that they had to have come from within the U.S.—and not Russia.
A Controlled Leak?
Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer who did presidential briefings for George H.W. Bush, said that he believes the recent leak attributed to Jack Teixeira is an inside job that is part of a media disinformation campaign.
Johnson recognized at least one of the reports as a CIA document to which neither Teixeira nor anyone else working on a U.S. military base would have access. Other documents were DoJ, FBI and FISA documents, which would also never be accessible through Pentagon facilities.
Another curiosity, apart also from Jack’s youth, is that Teixeira’s Air National Guard unit meets for drills only once a month for a two-three day period, where he would have been kept busy the whole time under supervision.
According to Johnson: “I’d put it [the leak] above the CIA. This is elements connected to the Director of National Intelligence…There’s no way that some National Guardsman doing [temporary duty] at Fort Bragg would have access to that. The information was leaked for [a purpose], to prepare the U.S. public for the crash landing that’s going to take place with respect to U.S. foreign policy,” he said.
Another potential motive was evident in the Biden administration’s announcement after Teixeira’s arrest that it was now looking at expanding the universe of online sites that intelligence agencies and law enforcement authorities track.
The original leak could have also resulted from a growing rift between the White House and elements of the military and intelligence community which did not approve of the bombing of the Nord Stream II pipeline, according to Seymour Hersh, is perturbed about the corruption of the Zelensky government, and appears to have deep misgivings about U.S. strategy in Ukraine.
Intelligence expert Douglas Valentine told CAM that his initial impression was that Teixeira’s leak “couldn’t happen without the Air Force base security people knowing what Teixeira was doing and that he probably worked within a network and that the network included compartmented people like Bils who spread the images. Knowing how the military works, I think a rogue faction is involved but it will be handled secretly to avoid a scandal.”
Retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor said that he detected something fishy about the official story, revealed in an interview with an alleged gamer from Teixeira’s Discord network whose statements seemed rehearsed, particularly when he referred to Teixeira as a disaffected “right winger.”
This seemed to fit a broader narrative that wants to associate Teixeira and the leak with the pathologies of Trump’s MAGA movement, which is celebrating Teixeira as a patriotic hero, and to demonize the enemies of the Biden administration like with the Russians.
The involvement of the Donbas Devushka and her exposure as a U.S. Navy operative adds to the likelihood that there is an intent to manipulate public opinion regarding the leaks and sustain momentum for a failed war policy by trying to associate it in the public mind with the Russians.
Yaroslav Trofimov, “Ex-Navy Technician Amplified Secrets Via Pro-Russian Persona,” The Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2023, 1. ↑
One of the guests on her podcast was Geoffrey Young, a congressional candidate in Kentucky supported by CAM who financed a billboard in Lexington calling for the abolishing of the CIA. Besides boosting her antiwar bonafides, Young may have been invited in an attempt to try and associate him with Russia so he could be smeared if he ever came close to winning an election. ↑
The Wall Street Journal found a leaked document dated five days later, February 28, which contained a slightly longer timeline that said Ukraine would run out of weapons for these systems on April 13 and May 3. ↑
A suspected leaker, DNC staffer Seth Rich, subsequently turned up dead in a botched robbery. ↑
A further oddity is that Teixeira did not copy the full report; the one dated March 1 only shows three of eight pages. ↑
Moon of Alabama writes that “if there is some bad blood between the military or intelligence community and the White House, the whole ‘leak story’ may well have been placed to limit the White House’s option.” Seymour Hersh exposed that Zelensky and his senior advisers have embezzled over $400 million meant for Ukrainian military diesel procurement. Hersh cites an expert witness who has compared this level of corruption in the Zelensky regime using Ukrainian aid procurement as comparable to similar grift seen in Afghanistan, when a U.S.-backed government in Kabul managed to divert and pilfer untold billions over the course of NATO’s 20 year occupation of that country. According to Hersh’s sources, corrupt ministers in Kyiv were competing to set up fake shell companies in order to export weapons and ammunition, with government officials receiving lucrative kickbacks for the illicit trade. ↑
On the rabidly pro-Trump message board known as The Donald, the numerous threads dedicated to Teixeira’s arrest included ones titled: “Fucking Legend” “May God Watch Over Him,” and “American Hero Busted for Telling the Truth.”Georgia’s pro-Trump Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene tweeted that “Teixeira is white, male, christian, and anti-war. That makes him an enemy to the Biden regime,” while Fox News’ Tucker Carlson claimed that Teixeira’s arrest was designed to cover up a covert, illegal U.S. presence in Ukraine, and as punishment for contradicting “the National Security State and their obedient servants in the media.” In the warped political universe in which we now live, liberal outlets like MSNBC by contrast depicted Teixeira as top officials in the Biden administration and Pentagon would want; that is someone who was psychologically damaged and a political extremist. It claimed in one piece that he had leaked the documents to “look cool for his internet friends,” who were “united by their mutual love of guns, military gear and God.” ↑
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About the Author
Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine.
He is the author of five books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019), The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018), and Warmonger. How Clinton’s Malign Foreign Policy Launched the U.S. Trajectory From Bush II to Biden (Clarity Press, 2023).
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