The Defense Department was forced to issue an apology Saturday after a tweet was sent out the day before suggesting the military would not hesitate to bomb millenials attempting to raid Area 51.
The offending tweet, accompanied by a photo of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, was posted Friday by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS), a Defense Media Activity organization, in response to the “Storm Area 51” event, which was held the day after the tweet was posted.
The tweet received some immediate backlash online. “The military should not be threatening to kill citizens, not even misguided ones,” Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, tweeted Friday.
On Saturday, DVIDSHub deleted the troubling tweet and issued an apology.
The “Storm Area 51” movement evolved from a Facebook post that went viral. Hundreds of thousands of people signed up for the “Storm Area 51: They Can’t Stop Us All” event, which jokingly called for people to overrun the remote Nevada air force base to “see them aliens.”
The event was ultimately canceled by the organizers due to safety concerns, although some people did show up and there were a handful of arrests.
The Air Force was taking the potential threat seriously, though. “Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected,” Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said a few days prior to the event. “People deserve to have our nation’s secrets protected.”
Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan added that the service was coordinating its efforts with local law enforcement. “There’s a lot of media attention, so they’re expecting some folks to show up there. We’re prepared, and we’ve provided them additional security personnel, as well as additional barricades.”