In the effort to combat the free flow of information in the “most transparent administration in history,” Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, is requiring all Pentagon employees now to complete a training course that refers to journalists and the media as “adversaries,” according to Politico.
Members of the military, civilians, and even onsite contractors who work at the Department of Defense will be required to take the mandatory course within the next 51 days — two months from when the memo was released outlining the program.
Esper’s aim is to crack down on leaks, part of what he calls poor operational security, or OpSec:
Unfortunately, poor OPSEC practices within DoD in the past have resulted in the unauthorized disclosure or ‘leaks.’ The Department of Defense (DoD) remains committed to transparency to promote accountability and public trust. [However] unauthorized disclosures jeopardize our DoD personnel, operations, strategies and policies to the benefit of our adversaries.”
The directives also refer to protesters around the country as “adversaries,” which may help to explain the militaristic stance taken toward them in cities like Portland and Seattle. Pentagon Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland tried to justify the use of the term:
An adversary — a common generic term for a person or group that opposes ones tactical goals — is acting counter to our information security objectives and therefore personnel must understand that threat.”
But as expected, comparisons to Esper’s description of clashes with protesters as “battlespace” on the streets weren’t far off. George Little, a CIA spokesman under Obama and a former Pentagon press secretary, recalled that exact moment of Esper’s accidental admission that he viewed dissent as combat, calling it “appalling and dangerous.”
Ironically, this new crackdown by Esper and the DoD follows the leak of information that led to the public knowledge of bounties being paid by Russia’s Vladimir Putin to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan to kill American soldiers. The fallout from Americans finding out that Trump knew about the bounty program and did nothing to stop it or even retaliate has been called treason in many circles, although Trump still insists that it’s either fake news or that he was never informed of it — depending on how “transparent” he’s feeling that day.
Featured image via Flickr/The White House, public domain