Between Greece’s tragic, Berlin-mandated descent into the Third World and the epic meltdown in China’s equity markets, it would be easy to forget that the US government is (re)annexing Texas next week.
For those unaware (or for anyone who might have lost track of the US Spec Ops schedule), the military is set to kick off Jade Helm 15 next Wednesday, which means the Lonestar lockdown is less than one week away. If you’re unfamiliar with the operation, here are the barebones basics:
Jade Helm is an eight-week joint military and Interagency Unconventional Warfare exercise conducted throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Essentially, from July 15 to September 15 some military personnel are going to take a trip out west and pretend like they are conducting covert operations overseas.
On the surface, that doesn’t sound too exciting, but thanks to some very unfortunate wording in an official US military slide deck and an even more unfortunate map which designates Texas as “hostile” territory (of course the same map also identifies San Diego as harboring a militant insurgency, so the US Spec Ops Command probably assumed it wouldn’t be taken literally) quite a few Texans came to believe that the federal government was up to no good with Jade Helm.
The situation quickly spiraled out of control and became a veritable media circus after Texas governor Greg Abbott called up the state guard and “Texas Ranger” Chuck Norris pledged to defend the state from a Navy SEAL incursion. Topping it off was former Texas lawmaker Todd Smith — a 16-year veteran of the Texas House of Representatives and self-proclaimed Last of the Fact-Based Republican Mohicans — who, in a letter to Abbott, suggested that anyone who was suspicious of the federal government’s intentions in the state was a “hysterical idiot.”
With just six days to go until the government begins the exercise, expect the rumor mill to come alive because as The Washington Post reports, the media will be given no access to the drills. Here’s more:
Jade Helm 15, the controversial Special Operations exercise that spawned a wave of conspiracy theories about a government takeover, will open next week without any media allowed to observe it, a military spokesman said.
Embedded reporters won’t be permitted at any point during the exercise, in which military officials say that secretive Special Operations troops will maneuver through private and publicly owned land in several southern states. Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, a spokesman for Army Special Operations Command, said his organization is considering allowing a small number of journalists to view selected portions of the exercise later this summer, but nothing is finalized.
“All requests from the media for interviews and coverage of U.S. Army Special Operations Command personnel, organizations and events are assessed for feasibility and granted when and where possible,” Lastoria said in a statement released Wednesday to The Washington Post. “We are dedicated to communicating with the public, while balancing that against the application of operations security and other factors.”
The exercise is scheduled for July 15 through September 15 and is expected to include more than 1,200 troops. Army Special Operations Command announced the exercise in March, saying its size and scope would set it apart from most training exercises. For months, some protesters have said Jade Helm is setting the stage for future martial law.
The Washington Post has several times requested access to observe the exercise, making the case to the military that first-hand media coverage would help explain the mission. Lastoria said it is not possible to allow a journalist to travel with Special Operations forces in the field, citing the isolated nature of the mission and the need to protect the identity of the forces involved.
The military has granted access to Special Operations in the past, however. In one recent example, a journalist observed the exercise Robin Sage in North Carolina, writing a profile for Our State, a magazine. The exercise is considered a final test for Green Beret soldiers in training and calls for them to work through a scenario in which they organize a guerrilla force to overthrow the government of the fictional nation of Pineland.
Got that? Basically, WaPo reasons that because one Kevin Maurer (reporting for OurState.com) was allowed to observe the imaginary overthrow of a made-up country called “Pineland” two and a half years ago in “backyard theaters of war across central North Carolina”, the paper should be allowed to observe whatever is or isn't going on in Texas.
In any event, it’s clear that the military is intent on keeping prying eyes away from Jade Helm. We’ll leave it to readers to decide what that says about government accountability and transparency.
And to the US Spec Ops Command we say this: just because you’ve kept the media out, doesn’t mean no one is watching…