The general who oversees the National Guard vowed Thursday that another leak like the recent massive intelligence breach allegedly carried out by Massachusetts Guardsman Jack Teixeira will never happen again.
"I'm very confident this will never happen again based on what we have found," National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson said at a Senate hearing Thursday. "This one individual was an individual action and not indicative of the entire system. But we are looking at safeguards that we can put in place that would prevent any individual in the future from ever being able to do this."
Hokanson's comments to the Senate Appropriations Committee come weeks after court filings revealed that the alleged leaker's superiors repeatedly warned him about mishandling classified information before he was arrested in April, but still allowed him access to those documents.
Pressed on those revelations, Hokanson said he found them "extremely concerning" and suggested a criminal investigation into the leak is also examining the accused airman's chain of command.
"I know it's not specifically the [inspector general] investigation that's looking at, but also the FBI investigation is looking at that, to determine if there was negligence within the airman's chain of command," Hokanson said, adding that if the investigations find negligence, "it will be addressed immediately."
Airman 1st Class Teixeira, who worked in an IT job and held a top secret security clearance, has been charged with violations of the Espionage Act over allegations that he spent months posting classified information to a social media platform called Discord.
Last month, a federal judge ordered that Teixeira will remain detained until his trial. In arguing for his detention, prosecutors revealed that his superiors witnessed him mishandling classified information on at least three separate occasions months before the leaks came to light.
In addition to Teixeira's criminal case, the Air Force's inspector general is investigating whether his unit, the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base, complied with classified safeguards. Two leaders in the Massachusetts National Guard have also been suspended pending the investigation.
Hokanson said Thursday that he expects the inspector general investigation to be finished "soon."
"Any and all recommendations they make will obviously be implemented immediately," he pledged.
Noting the missed red flags revealed in prosecutors' filings, senators appeared skeptical at Hokanson's assurances.
"This was not a deviation that came out of the blue," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the vice chair of the Appropriations Committee. "What is the standard for when someone has been reprimanded for misuse of classified information and then does it gain? That to me should not require an IG report. That should be on the books now."
-- Rebecca Kheel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @reporterkheel.