Despite the dumb conspiracy theories, Jade Helm 15 deserves scrutiny

Jade Helm
The logo of the military training exercise that has some people exercised.

A U.S. Special Operation Command (SOCOM) military training exercise in seven southwestern states has triggered an outburst of right-wing conspiracy-mongering about “everything from a ploy to confiscate Americans’ guns to an excuse to abduct political dissidents.” 

While these fears may be unfounded, even laughable, more people paying close attention to the Jade Helm 15 exercise is a good thing.

The trick is to separate what is driven by feverish hatred of President Obama (for expanding health care, for seeking to ban assault weapons, for winning two elections handily) and what is driven by appropriate worry about the national security state (for engaging in mass surveillance at home and waging perpetual war abroad).

So far Obama fever is prevailing.

The SOCOM slide show on Jade Helm, touted by the conspiracy theorists, is less than frightening. It portrays a training exercise for Green Berets, Navy SEALS, the 82nd Airborne for possible deployment to foreign countries where the population might be hostile, friendly or somewhere in between. It provides contact information, for interested citizens. This seems reasonable on its face, not a harbinger of federal “invasion.”

But vigilance isn’t inappropriate.

While liberal news sites scoff at “wing nuts” who interpret these ordinary activities as cover for something sinister, they often overlook the fact that the U.S. military does have a Northern Command, created in the wake of the Sept.11 attacks “to provide homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.”  Its motto is “Defending Our Homeland.”

It does not appear that Northcom has a role in Jade Helm 15 but it is worth noting that SOCOM now has a provisional command, SOCNORTH, which is part of Northcom.

Northcom engages in appropriate activities like fighting wild fires. It is also party to more problematic endeavors such a planning for terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. In one recent exercise, Northcom contemplated a variety of “complex catastrophes,” such as a massive California earthquake, where “civil unrest, would require yet another federal agency to be brought in, such as the Department of Justice, to assist local authorities with that response.”

How the U.S. government — now empowered with NSA-collected metadata on almost every single U.S.citizen — would deploy the military on U.S. soil in times of national emergency is a matter of legitimate concern across the political spectrum. How the U.S. military would interact with local police departments, which are often heavily militarized and have targeted peaceful political dissidents, is also an important issue.

The culture of secrecy that now dominates the U.S. government demands no less. It is no conspiracy theory to note that the Obama administration has sanctioned the assassination of American civilians on foreign soil via a process that is almost completely secret.

When Senator Rand Paul asked questions in March 2013 about whether assassination of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil was possible, he received the vaguest of answers. Paul then launched a very popular filibuster on the Senate floor in which he said:

 “The president’s response? He hasn’t killed anyone yet. We’re supposed to be comforted by that. The president says, I haven’t killed anyone yet. He goes on to say, and I have no intention of killing Americans. But I might. Is that enough? Are we satisfied by that? Are we so complacent with our rights that we would allow a president to say he might kill Americans?”

We should not be so complacent. We should pay attention to government actions like Jade Helm 15 to insure that they conform to law, are transparent, enjoy public support, and do not contemplate or sanction the violation of constitutional rights.


12 thoughts on “Despite the dumb conspiracy theories, Jade Helm 15 deserves scrutiny”

  1. gerry campeau

    Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01) released the following statement on the ‘Jade Helm 15’ exercises scheduled to take place in Texas and various other 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.

    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.

    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. 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.

    Such labeling tends to make people who have grown leery of federal government overreach become 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.”

    Source: []

  2. gerry campeau

    For 48 years i believed that LHO was lone assassin my reasoning was that improbable can happen over time. Two years ago i had a OMG look at Obamas family connection to CIA, the improbable became the probable with only Pres. Carter looking clean but he was military and his NSA Zbigniew Brzezinski is still trying to go to war with Russia.

    1. But for a failed carburetor clogged with sand in a storm some think Carter would have been a hero instead of a goat. So the official story goes.

  3. “We should not be so complacent. We should pay attention to government actions like Jade Helm 15 to insure that they conform to law, are transparent, enjoy public support, and do not contemplate or sanction the violation of constitutional rights.”

    What constitutional rights? Anyone who can read English should recognize that the Constitution has been flaunted and disparaged mercilessly since the Wilson Regime, and that the criminal syndicate sitting in DC since the coup in Dallas in utterly ultra vires constitutionally.

    Appearances are all that are left of “democracy” in Amerika.
    See: Perspectives on Politics [doi:10.1017/S1537592714001595] © American Political Science Association 2014

  4. On 9/30/11 a CIA drone, under authority of the president, killed Anwar al_Awlaki in Yemen. al Alaki was a known terrorist, and had been the presiding imam at the Falls Church, Va. Islamic center. Several 9/11 terrorists were his parishioners.
    On 10/14/11 al Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman al Alaki, was killed by a CIA drone strike in Shabwa, Yemen. He was 16 years old, and an American citizen, born in Denver.
    The government later regretted the killing, calling it a mistake.
    No one has ever asserted that the 16 year old was involved with terrorism. But his dad certainly was. The president has never explained why this innocent American teenager was killed by his own government. But then they never explained killing the president of the United States either…

    1. I thought that four official Federal government investigations DID explain the killing of an American president.
      Just because you don’t like the results doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been investigated A better question would be why each and every. Investigation stated that Lee Oswald fired all of the shots that hit Connally and JFK. Why were all of those individuals wrong and you are right?

      1. Dear Photon – Simply stated, because numerous relevant facts, events, and government activities were withheld in all those investigations. That’s an admitted and indisputable fact. Also, many relevant documents still remain sequestered. Photon, you seem like a serious person – do you dispute this fact? If you do, then I’ll know (for sure) that you’re simply a provocateur and a person not interested serious factual dialog.

      2. None of those four investigations could give a plausible motive for Oswald, so no, it hasn’t been “explained.”

        The HSCA’s investigation did not find that Oswald “fired all of the shots,” but rather that there was “a high probability that at least two gunmen fired at the President.”

      3. What a disingenuous comment, carefully phrased to be technically accurate but nonetheless misleading.
        Yes, the WC and the HSCA found “that LHO fired all the shots that hit Connally and JFK.”
        You omitted the part of the HSCA report which stated:
        “The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee was unable to identify the other gunman or the extent of the conspiracy.”
        I think that this, the most recent statement on this matter by the U.S. government, qualifies as “never explaining the killing of the president of the United States.”
        I renew my request that you unmask yourself, Doctor. I suspect I have cross-examined you somewhere along the line. You seem very similar to the hired gun experts we confront in trial every day. I would be curious to review transcripts of your prior expert testimony. That’s usually how we trip up self-proclaimed experts.

      4. Lawrence Schnapf

        The conclusions reached by the prior government bodies were based on circumstantial evidence developed using forensic evidence that is now known to be unreliable. For example, Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis (CBLA) can no longer be used by experts to state that the ammo was fired from a particular weapon to the exclusion of all other wepaons. Fibers evidence also cannot be used to establish they came from a particular source. Hence, we now know that the government could not link the MC rifle to the fragments in the car and that fibers in the blanket that purportedly held the rifle cannot be linked back to oswald’s shirt or hairs.

    2. Yes, I too ask this same question, the question Photon is asking. I don’t find that the two cases mentioned here have much in common. That the sixteen year old was killed is really regrettable, a terrible act. I just don’t see why this is being compared to the JFK assassination. I think that four official investigations by government agencies should not be ignored, passed off as nothing, as faked and deliberate deceit. Perhaps someone simply encouraged Oswald, more of an accessory to the crime than a real all out conspiracy. Or perhaps there really was another shooter, making it a very small, contained conspiracy. But to dismiss very substantial evidence because of who did the investigation and what they discovered is a mistake. Just why couldn’t they be right on or very close to the truth?

      1. Lawrence Schnapf

        @sammy- First, the conspiracy to kill JFK could have been as small as a couple of exiles with the COVERUP conspiracy being comitted by the government for the “greater good” (e.g., prevent world war, protect disclosure of assassination attempts agst Castro and involvement with mob, etc). Government employees forced to go along could easily be muzzled under the risk of losing their pensions.

        Regarding why official investigation should be discounted, let’s put aside the CIA obstruction and congressionnal intereference with the investigation through staff changes and cutting back budget. The key conclusions of the investigations were based on flawed forensic evidence. NAA, CBLA and fiber evidence is now known to be flawed and unreliable. Vincent Bugliosi says of all the cases he has prosecuted, he never saw one where there was so much evidence against one defendent. Is that evidence of overwhelming guilt or evidence of planted/flawed evidence?

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