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Monday, May 20, 2024

Teixeira’s hometown of Dighton reacts to his arrest

Teixeira’s hometown of Dighton reacts to his arrest

The street that was blocked by the FBI and swarmed by the media a few days ago is quiet now.
But a man and a woman are nailing “No Trespass” signs to the trees on both sides of the driveway, which leads to the house where Jack Teixeira was arrested.

“No comment,” says the woman, waving me away.

The 21-year-old air national guardsman was charged on Friday with what is being described as the worst leak of US intelligence in a decade.

He is accused of posting classified documents in an online chat group over many months.

It has clearly been a harrowing week for his family. “It’s time to stop bothering them,” said a man who jogs past.

The drama of the past few days unfolded in the small town of Dighton in Massachusetts. It is partly rural, a farming and largely working-class community. In Teixeira’s neighborhood, homes are far apart and built into a wooded area.

A few doors down, Ray Simmons is blowing leaves off his lawn. The elderly man had trouble getting home the day of the arrest because of the roadblock. He does not know his young neighbor, but is reserving judgment.

“The leaking, apparently, is obvious, but to what extent you don’t know,” he tells me. “I’m not going to condemn ahead of time.”

He said he is more worried about other news he heard this week, that North Korea had tested an intercontinental ballistic missile possibly capable of targeting the United States.

A few miles away a popular diner is buzzing with the Saturday morning crowd. There is a sign advertising a special breakfast for Patriot’s Day on Monday — Massachusetts is one of two states that observe the holiday.

I ask one of the patrons, Gary Best, whether he thinks Teixeira was unpatriotic.

“Oh definitely,” he quickly responds, then pauses. “It was bad judgment,” he added, “he’s a kid who didn’t think about what he was doing, the consequences or what it means to this country.”

One woman, who didn’t want to be named, called Teixeira a “smart idiot” for using his brains in this way.

“I don’t know what I think of all this, and many others feel the same way,” she said. “Everyone is shocked.”

Daniel Barone, who’s one year older than Teixeira, said his grandmother called him at work “and she was, like, someone from our town just got arrested by the FBI! It’s pretty crazy.”

“This town is never known for anything,” his mother Kim agrees. “If you give people directions they don’t know where Dighton is, so for us to make it to national (attention) and now the world is just kind of surprising.”

She feels bad for the family, she said. “For a 21-year-old to make that kind of mistake and ruin his whole life is a lot.”

Another woman introduces herself as Deacon Sue — she is involved in a local church and comes from a military background.

“My heart aches for him and his family, for the poor choices that he made,” she said. “But by the same token he’s old enough to know right and wrong. This is for military security, and he put a lot of other people at risk.”

Among bikers gathered at a nearby motorcycle dealership, there is not a lot of sympathy for Teixeira — but there is incredulity that such a junior officer had top level security clearance.

Mark Allen, a navy vet, dismisses him as a “kid” who wasn’t even “full military” as a member of the national guard.

“You’ve got to be smart enough to know that if it was top secret you don’t show off by telling your friends on the internet,” he said.

“I think a lot of this online stuff is going to be the demise of the world that we used to know. It’s good but it’s bad, and I think the bad’s been outweighing the good.”

Allen said a military court martial would be more appropriate than a trial in a federal civilian court.

Rashad Ellis, another vet, is most concerned about potential harm to “brothers and sisters” in the military.

“You’ve got to look out for the greater good,” he said. “That’s what we do it for, God and country. It’s hard when you give out information that could potentially hurt our brothers and sisters. The way we look at it, it’s all family.”
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