Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (photo) is requiring all DoD personnel, including military, civilian and on-site contractors, to complete a course that refers to protestors and even journalists as “adversaries,” Politico reports. In defending the term, a Pentagon spokesperson went on to refer to protestors and journalists as a “threat.”
The “mandatory Pentagon training course” is “designed to teach Defense Department personnel how to better protect sensitive information,” namely leaks, Politico adds. The training must be completed in the next 60 days.
“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,” Secretary Esper writes in a memo.
Experts are expressing concern.
“‘Adversary’ is a loaded term, we use it to define Russia, for example,” says ABC News analyst Mick Mulroy, who served as the Pentagon’s Middle East policy official in the Trump administration.
In case there’s any question as to how dangerous this is, former Pentagon press secretary and CIA spokesperson George Little calls it “appalling and dangerous.”
“It brings to mind the same tin ear Secretary Esper recently demonstrated when he used the military term battlespace to describe America’s city streets,” Little told Politico. “The Pentagon and the press have a long history over working alongside each other in service of the American people. Even when they don’t see eye to eye on the issues, there’s been a long history of respect for their common mission, and it’s unfortunate that the current Pentagon leadership has largely abandoned it.”