COVERT OPS

Department of Defense Launches Stealth Subtweet War on Trump

The same day Trump is expected to ban refugees, the Pentagon tweeted about an Iraqi refugee who became a U.S. Marine—the latest salvo in a war against the president’s internal government censorship.

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast

Someone at the U.S. Department of Defense has seemingly been studying the art of the subtweet.

On the same morning President Donald Trump is expected to order a temporary ban on refugees, the department’s Twitter account posted a heartwarming story about an Iraqi refugee who enlisted as a Marine and went back to Iraq as part of his military duty.

“From refugee to #Marine,” @DeptofDefense tweeted, in what many see as a precision-strike subtweet at Trump’s anti-refugee rhetoric. “@USMC Cpl Ali J. Mohammed takes the fight to the doorstep of those who cast his family out.”

Linked within the tweet is an article published Monday on the official Marines website telling the story of Cpl. Ali J. Mohammed, a Marine who, when he was 16, sought refuge in the U.S. with his family from Iraq.

“Despite the challenges Mohammed faced [in assimilating to U.S. culture], he graduated from high school less than five years after coming to the United States,” the blog read.

“On Nov. 4, 2014, Mohammed made a life changing decision, one which would bring him back to Iraq… he raised his right hand and swore his oath of enlistment into the [Marines]. His story is like many who take that oath, one that includes a desire to serve his country while being part of something larger than oneself.”

The subtle jab at the president, from within his own government, comes one day after Badlands National Park took a stand against Trump by dryly tweeting facts about climate change—a proven scientific concept the president has deemed a hoax—after they’d been silenced with a social-media gag order.

“The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm),” one tweet read. Another noted that “Burning one gallon of gasoline puts nearly 20lbs of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere,” punctuated by the hashtag “#climate.”

The park eventually deleted the four tweets in question, but they became the most notable salvo in the war against Trump’s internal government censorship.

Days earlier, after the National Parks’ official Twitter account retweeted several messages demeaning to Trump’s ego, The Interior Department was issued a temporary social-media ban. Several other departments reportedly received similar gag orders: Department of Agriculture scientists were told not to release any documents or post to social media; Health and Human Services employees were told to do the same; and Environmental Protection Agency staffers were ordered to stop posting to social media or talking to reporters.

The refugee tweet isn’t the first time the Pentagon has been suspected of waging a covert mission against the newly inaugurated commander-in-chief.

On Monday morning, as the first full weekday of our Twitter-obsessed president’s administration was underway, the department’s Twitter account posted about the impact of social media on mental health.

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“Social media postings sometimes provide an important window into a person’s #mentalhealth,” the account warned, with a photograph of a hand holding a smartphone. “Know what to look for.”

The siege was stealth enough that it has yet to be deleted.