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Marjorie Taylor Greene’s defence of the Pentagon leaker isn’t just absurd – it’s dangerous

Suspect’s white Christian identity combined with his alleged deeds make him the perfect avatar for conservatives raging against internationalism

Eric Garcia
Friday 14 April 2023 21:28 BST
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Jack Teixeira's parents silent as they exit courthouse following son's arraignment

In the past, a massive tranche of documents being published would lead to Republicans wanting to throw the book at the person who published them. If it happened under a Democratic president, as happened when WikiLeaksreleased documents related to the War in Afghanistan in 2010 during Barack Obama’s presidency, Republicans would say it projects weakness on behalf of said Democratic administration.

Instead, we’ve seen conservatives and Republican elected officials come to the defence of Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard servicemember accused of being behind the latest leaks.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the right-wing congresswoman from Georgia who has become a voice for white Christian grievance in the GOP, said he was a martyr when she said the fact he is “white, male, christian, and antiwar” made him “an enemy to the Biden regime.”

Meanwhile, Tucker Carlson has labeled him a “kid” and said “he revealed the crimes, therefore he is the criminal.” He added that “what’s happening to this leaker now is what happens to anyone who contradicts the National Security State and their obedient servants in the media. You go to prison so that the media can continue to tell you its lies,” ignoring the fact that Carlson is the most-watched member of the media on cable news.

The words and actions are a far cry from when Richard Nixon ordered his “plumbers” to burglarize the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist after Mr Ellsberg facilitated the publication of the Pentagon Papers detailing the extent of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

In 2007, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I Lewis “Scooter” Libby was convicted in connection with the outing of a CIA agent after her husband threw cold water on the Bush administration’s claims that Iraq was trying to obtain material for nuclear weapons.

Most Republicans similarly wanted to lock up Edward Snowden for his leaking of classified materials related to the United States’s domestic surveillance programmes. Even Donald Trumpsaid in 2013 that “Snowden is a spy who should be executed — but if … he could reveal Obama’s records, I might become a major fan.”

Of course, much has changed since then when it comes to Republicans and leaks: for one, they now see that leaking, even if it compromises the security of the nation, can facilitate victory for them.

(Social media/WCVB-TV via ABC/Reuters)

Throughout the 2016 presidential election, WikiLeaks published internal communications from top officials in the Democratic National Committee, which helped sow internal division and strife, which may have contributed to Mr Trump’s victory that year. Mr Trump, one may recall, actually wanted Russia to go further with leaks, famously saying “Russia: If you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

In addition, after decades of believing that the United States should robustly defend international interests, many Republicans have taken a decidedly more isolationist approach.

Mr Trump partially facilitated this with his promotion of “America First” policies, but a younger generation of Republicans generally don’t see a need for the United States to intervene on behalf of its allies.

And nowhere is Republican hostility toward internationalism more apparent than in conservatives’ opposition to aiding Ukraine in its fight against Russia. Ms Greene notably got the Conservative Political Action Conference attendees to boo Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during her speech at the convention last month. Add in the fact that the Biden administration has steadfastly gotten behind Ukraine as it faces the assault, and Republicans will naturally be opposed to it. 

As a result, Mr Teixeira serves as a perfect avatar for Ms Greene and other Republicans’ grievances towards intervening and defending allies. Similarly, the fact that he resembles many of them makes him seem like someone who stands up for their “America First” values.

But by getting so vocally behind the leaks, Ms Greene and others risk encouraging future would-be leakers to follow suit.

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