Image: U.S. Threat Lab comic
We’ve all had bad Tinder dates, but few of us have had Tinder dates that lead to the attempted assassination of a U.S. asset in a foreign theater of war. The Pentagon wants to keep it that way and it’s produced a comic book all about the dangers of catching feelings on a first date with an influencer.
During World War II, America constantly reminded its fighting men that “loose lips sink ships.” The fear that soldiers could tell romantic partners the secrets of the military is still very real. But a propaganda poster won’t work anymore. Enter Dangerous Disclosure, a comic book designed to warn troops that the woman across the table may just be pumping him for information.
The Threat Lab, a division of the Pentagon Defense Human Resources Activity (DHRA), produced the comic book in a collaboration with the Pentagon’s Counter-Insider Threat Program and the National Insider Threat Task Force. According to the comic, it “created this graphic novel to raise awareness of the harm that unauthorized disclosures may cause and help to prevent these damaging events.”
Hunter is the hapless hero of the tale. He’s home on leave from Afghanistan and watching a PG-13 action movie with a buddy when he pulls out his phone to find a date using a Tinder-style app called Meet+Cute. Then he matches Brandi—a famous influencer with a huge following.
On the date, Brandi seems distracted. She’s not even sure where Afghanistan is!
But she perks up when he mentions he met a famous celebrity there. Hunter took a selfie with the local celeb and, poor fool that he is, didn’t understand why the CIA was mad when he did it.
Looking to impress Brandi, he shows off his pic.
But she posts it.
Which totally screws over the asset.
Kudos to the artist for perfectly capturing the horror of realizing that being online has fucked up your entire life.
He goes into hiding and the government loses an asset. Luckily, they know who to blame.
Now it’s time for the lesson of this comic.
Dangerous Disclosure contains many important lessons: don’t ever post, don’t trust influencers, and clear all your selfies with an authorized agent of the CIA. That last is bad advice, given that poor handling of documents by the CIA contributed to the deaths of 30 spies in China.
Operational security is important, but America’s assets are less likely to be fucked over by a random soldier than they are by Washington. For two decades, Afghan and Iraqi translators and assets have tried to get entry into the U.S. Many are fleeing credible threats on their life, threats earned because they helped America. But the visa process takes years and is often denied or slowed, despite the Pentagon’s constant vouching for its local assets.
A Pentagon produced comic may seem strange, but the U.S. Military’s use of comics as a training tool is almost as old as the medium itself. Captain America and others went to war against the Axis powers in World War II, but the Pentagon also commissioned artists to create training documents in comic book form. Comics legend Will Eisner produced P.S. Magazine, a monthly maintenance manual for the Army.
The lessons of military comics are often anodyne and may seem silly to a civilian, but _Dangerous Disclosure_’s message is one we can all get behind. Take it slow on a first date. Don’t be a Tripp and don’t reveal your most exciting selfie until you’re sure you can trust the person.