The U.S. military has been exposed for using language typically reserved for international adversaries during wartime when referring to their deployment to the protests in Ferguson. The newly released documents were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by CNN.
The documents highlight and detail the National Guard’s military mission in Ferguson, and use the terms “enemy forces” and “adversaries” in reference to citizens exercising their right to protest.
It also revealed that the Missouri guard was especially concerned about “adversaries” use of phone apps and police scanners to potentially compromise operational security.
“Counterintelligence operations are directed at supporting an information campaign. Their audience does not require the information to be accurate and is easily swayed,” one document read.
The guard was deployed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to assist law enforcement after rioting broke in Ferguson in response to the killing of Mike Brown, by officer Darren Wilson.
The language contained in the newly released mission briefing documents is sparking outrage as it seemingly labels all protestors as “enemy forces.”
According to The Guardian:
A briefing for commanders included details of the troops’ intelligence capabilities so that they could “deny adversaries the ability to identify Missouri national guard vulnerabilities”, which the “adversaries” might exploit, “causing embarrassment or harm” to the military force, according to documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request by CNN.
And in an ominous-sounding operations security briefing, the national guard warned: “Adversaries are most likely to possess human intelligence (HUMINT), open source intelligence (OSINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), technical intelligence (TECHINT), and counterintelligence capabilities.”
In less military-style language, the briefing then goes on to detail how protesters might obtain this intelligence – a list of sources no more technical than public records, social media and listening to conversations “being carried out in public” by civic officials or law enforcement, according to the report.
Emails and mission briefings show that the guard was very concerned about perceptions, as military brass eventually intervened and directed officers to cease the use of “heavily militarized language.”
“We are deliberately constraining mobilization timelines to the last couple days to minimize backlash from calling up the NG [national guard] early,” Colonel David Boyle, army chief of staff at the Missouri national guard, told officers in an 18 November email.
Boyle then sent another email two days later warning of possible repercussions from using language that could “be construed as inflammatory.” In addition, commanding officers were subsequently notified that all references to the “enemy” should now changed into “criminal elements” in all future guard communications.
In an attempt at damage control, National Guard Captain Jon Quinn told CNN that the communications format and verbiage were standard planning documents pre-deployment and encompasses a generic military formula.
Quinn then attempted to explain that the military didn’t really mean “enemy force,” and that what they were actually referring to would be understood more clearly as “potential threats.”
The documents released listed enemy forces as the Ku Klux Klan, RgB Black Rebels, and the New Black Panther Party, in addition to “general protesters.” It warned soldiers to be prepared to come under attack by rocks, thrown debris, Molotov cocktails, arson, firearms and destruction of the power grid.
I think the most frightening thing to come to light is that although many Americas already felt as though their government looked at them as the enemy, this newly released information confirms many’s worst fears. U.S. citizens, who exercise their political will and constitutional rights, are now an looked at as an “enemy force” by their own government.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.