The urban legends about black helicopters, clandestine military camps, tunnels underneath major airports, secret cabals, hidden detention camps, trains loaded with caskets and body bags and the like were around long before the Internet. The Web just made them easier and quicker to spread.
One of the tea-party organizations even has reported an anonymous claim there were train cars moving around the country with prison-like shackles installed.
Most people dismiss such reports as hyperbole or the fretting of nutcases.
But now there are powerful new forces aligning with those who are suspicious of the federal government, doubt the official public statements and aren’t reassured by the insistence that everything is all right, including members of Congress.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, released a statement Tuesday responding to constituents’ worries about Jade Helm 15, a previously announced military exercise to train thousands of military personnel on public – and even private – property outside of military bases.
It’s to take place in half a dozen states.
“Over the past few weeks, my office has been inundated with calls referring to the Jade Helm 15 military exercise scheduled to take place between July 15 and September 15, 2015. This military practice has some concerned that the U.S. Army is preparing for modern-day martial law,” Gohmert said.
“Certainly, I can understand these concerns. When leaders within the current administration believe that major threats to the country include those who support the Constitution, are military veterans, or even ‘cling to guns or religion,’ patriotic Americans have reason to be concerned.
“We have seen people working in this administration use their government positions to persecute people with conservative beliefs in God, country, and notions such as honor and self-reliance. Because of the contempt and antipathy for the true patriots or even Christian saints persecuted for their Christian beliefs, it is no surprise that those who have experienced or noticed such persecution are legitimately suspicious.”
Jade Helm is getting a lot of attention for several reasons, including the fact that the military has designated for purposes of its exercise several mostly-Republican regions as “hostile” territories.
“Having served in the U.S. Army, I can understand why military officials have a goal to see if groups of Special Forces can move around a civilian population without being noticed and can handle various threat scenarios,” Gohmert wrote. “In military science classes or in my years on active duty, I have participated in or observed military exercises; however, we never named an existing city or state as a ‘hostile.’ We would use fictitious names before we would do such a thing.
“Once I observed the map depicting ‘hostile,’ ‘permissive,’ and ‘uncertain’ states and locations, I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, ‘cling to their guns and religion,’ and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution. When the federal government begins, even in practice, games or exercises, to consider any U.S. city or state in ‘hostile’ control and trying to retake it, the message becomes extremely calloused and suspicious.”
He said those who already are distrustful of government “overreach” become even more suspicious “of whether their big brother government anticipates certain states may start another civil war or be overtaken by foreign radical Islamist elements which have been reported to be just across our border.”
“Such labeling by a government that is normally not allowed to use military force against its own citizens is an affront to the residents of that particular state considered as ‘hostile,’ as if the government is trying to provoke a fight with them. The map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped so the federal government is not intentionally practicing war against its own states.”
Earlier, it was Texas Gov. Greg Abbott who issued an order to the Texas State Guard to oversea any activities in his state to ensure that Texans’ “safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.”
“By monitoring the operation on a continual basis, the State Guard will facilitate communications between my office and the commanders of the operation to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect Texans,” he told Maj. Gen. Gerald Betty, the commander of the Texas State Guard.
“Directing the State Guard to monitor the operation will allow Texas to be informed of the details of military personnel movements and training exercise schedules, and it will give us the ability to quickly and effectively communicate with local communities, law enforcement, public safety personnel and citizens.”
Actor and WND columnist Chuck Norris raised the issue in a recent commentary.
“Last week, I laughed as some progressives in the mainstream media tried to mock Gov. Abbott for telling the Texas State Guard to monitor the Pentagon’s Jade Helm 15 military ops that are occurring this summer in seven states, including California and Texas,” he wrote.
“If you haven’t heard about Jade Helm 15, you need to. It is multi-state training mission for special operations soldiers scheduled over an eight-week period in July and August, with most of the activity happening on private property but some public, too. The official website press release from March 24 admits: “While multi-state training exercises such as these are not unique to the military, the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart.'”
Norris said Abbot was right to give Betty instructions.
“Concerned Texans and Americans are in no way calling into question our brave and courageous men and women in uniform. They are merely following orders. What’s under question are those who are pulling the strings at the top of Jade Helm 15 back in Washington. The U.S. government says, ‘It’s just a training exercise.’ But I’m not sure the term ‘just’ has any reference to reality when the government uses it,” he wrote.
Concluded Norris: “If Washington wants to cool the embers of controversy, then it should quit stoking the fire, as with the posting of a map of Jade Helm 15 ‘just’ exercises that label some areas of the country, including Texas, as ‘hostile,’ according to KHOU 11 News in Houston and verified by the Washington Post.”
He said that whatever Jade Helm 15 “actually is, I think it is more than coincidental that the FBI director just confessed in February that the presence of ISIS can be felt in all 50 states of the U.S.”
“And that the Pentagon is suddenly running its biggest military training exercise with every branch of the military across seven Southwestern states. Whether deterrence, display of power or something more covert or devious, let’s not come with any patronizing nonsense of impotence and simplicity when its origin is in Washington.”
U.S. Army Special Operations Command officials responded to some of WND’s questions about the issue, stating in writing that the exercise is to train Special Operations Force to respond to an international crisis.
Officials said they need to train in areas that are not inside military bases.
“Different environments provide opportunities to experience new and unique training experiences,” the Army said. “These environments add realism and greater training value for U.S Special Operations Forces.”
To make things smoother, the Army told WND, officials have briefed local governments.
They blamed “inaccurate” information on either accident or “personal agendas.”
But they declined to answer whether it is unreasonable for Americans to be concerned about a government that takes away rights to oppose abortion and follow biblical standards for marriage, for example.
There have been two general responses: those from conservatives who doubt Washington is telling the whole story and from liberals who poking fun at conservatives.
Among the former is Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who told Bloomberg.com he’s been trying to get answers from the Pentagon.
“My office has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise. We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don’t trust what it is saying.”
He explained that he has confidence in Abbott.
“I think part of the reason [for questions] is we have seen, for six years, a federal government disrespecting the liberty of the citizens. That produces fear, when you see a government that is attacking our free speech rights, or Second Amendment rights, or religious liberty rights. That produces distrust.
“Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you,” he warned.
CNN quoted Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren, who said: “Jade Helm is a long planned and coordinated exercise. We are not taking over anything.”
And “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart launched a diatribe: “Oh dear Lord. Yet another waste of Texas funds that could have been spent on actual threats, like your infamous chainsaw massacres. Texas, it’s not that I don’t find it adorable that your governor thinks your State Guard could take on the United States military. It’s like a little dog growling at a big dog, or an 8-year-old picking a fight with the Predator.”
But a local Fox outlet in Utah reported the controversy was creating a “firestorm” in that state.
And the Houston Chronicle reported a smaller military exercise called Robin Sagei n 2002 in which a sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina shot and killed a Specials Forces candidate.
The deputy said he wasn’t aware of the exercise. He pulled over the truck carrying two participants over because it was suspicious, and he saw what appeared to be two machine guns in a bag.
According to WRAL-TV, the judge in the case said there was evidence the officers tried to bribe the deputy with fake money, too.