In another section of the course on insider threats, the media is labeled an adversary, and DoD staff are instructed to report any press contact to the “information security office.”
Orland noted that the training emphasizes that media staff are not typically seen as a threat, however “their actions to collect and report classified / proprietary information can be just as harmful.”
Price Floyd, who served as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs in the Obama administration and director of media relations at the State Department in the George W. Bush administration, also criticized the the new DoD policy on safety and response to leaks.
“I think this administration confuses the leak with stories that are written they don’t like,” Floyd said. “Because this administration, of course, gives information to the press without attribution all the time. In other words, it is leaking. They want the stories to be the way they want them. “
He took up the question of how the training course is framed, arguing that in his experience he accurately depicts the general relationship between the military and the media.
“If for some reason a reporter managed to do something that was classified or secret, all it takes is a conversation with public affairs and someone says,‘ look this is classified, it’s a secret, we talk about it right now put our lives danger. “”;
“I think this Esper witch hunt is just a way of trying to clamp up on what they consider fake news,” he added, “when in fact all the media is doing is reporting the facts.”
Mick Mulroy, an ABC News analyst who served as the Pentagon’s Middle East policy officer in the Trump administration, said he did not believe DoD intended to label all protesters and journalists as threats, but called the language in the training material “poor choice of word.”
“” Adversary “is a loaded term, we use it to define Russia, for example,” Mulroy said, distinguishing between protesters and journalists who properly exercise their constitutional rights with “protesters who use violence against members. military or leaked service classified information. ”
“However, in this climate of media labeling that is a threat to all the people and Protestants being held together (both violent and non-violent) the military must ensure that it does not add to the problem with ‘this kind of terminology,” he continued. “I don’t believe they intend to do that with this choice of terms, but they should be adjusted.”
OPSEC’s new effort was launched just weeks after Esper told lawmakers at a hearing that he had begun an investigation into leaks, following the New York Times. reports on the intelligence Russia paid to militants to target U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The leaks “hurt the security of our nation, weaken our troops, their security, affect our relations with other countries, weaken our national policy,” Esper told lawmakers this month. “It’s something we need to control. It’s bad and illegal and it needs to stop.”
A separate memo issued around the same time as the first set new guidelines for the force when interacting with news media members.
Bryan Bender contributed to this report.