Paranoia over the massive "Jade Helm 15" training exercise by the U.S. Army planned for July has taken a left turn, with concerns emerging about the potential environmental damage and perceived militarization of America.
Carol Miller, a community activist and former health official under Presidents Reagan and Clinton, raised the issues in a May 11 article published in the left-wing Counterpunch.org and questioned why the news media and progressives are allegedly defending or ignoring a potential threat.
"Anti-militarism activists are shaking their heads in amazement," Miller wrote in the piece. "Militarized violence has become the new normal in the USA... Yet, the largest war “game” ever undertaken by the Pentagon is now getting huge amounts of superficial media attention. The media is not focusing on the tremendous financial cost, the potential environmental consequences, or the unconstitutionality of the plan."
Miller's details her work in the Peaceful Skies Coalition, a group that began in 2010 to try to limit the number of military jets flying overhead in Western states, and discusses the potential environmental disaster looming with a live-ammunition bombing program by the U.S. Navy in Alaska set to begin next month.
She's also an honorary board member for the National Center for Frontier Communities who has "lived in a frontier mountain village in northern New Mexico since 1976," her bio on the Center's website states.
People should "stand up" against this sort of military training, Miller writes in her article, warning that, "The last shreds of democracy are at stake."
She's currently visiting family on the East Coast and could not be reached. We'll let you know if she returns our message.
New Times was informed about the piece by an email from Tucson attorney and musician Kathleen Williamson, who supported former New Times' writer John Dougherty's 2010 bid as a Democratic challenger to U.S. Senator John McCain.
Williamson, a longtime foe of overhead flights by jet fighters in southern Arizona, urged New Times not to "fall into line too readily."
The activist-lawyer-songwriter was one of several people who contacted New Times following our April 28 article about Jade Helm 15 and its Arizona connection. Like some others, she seemed to be somewhat miffed that our headline for that article wrote off the Jade Helm conspiracy theorists as "wackos." Hers was the first response to that article we received from someone who wasn't a right-winger.
It seems that speculation and theories about the planned, two-month Jade Helm 15 exercise are too large to be contained by one side of the political aisle. The Internet continues to blaze with information and news about the military exercise and related concerns, and the theories are expanding and evolving.
As Sam Biddle of the left-wing Gawker.com noted in March, "you don't need to believe in FEMA death domes or an Islamofascist White House to find Jade Helm a little bit unsettling—even if it just a routine exercise meant to simulate a future Middle Eastern war zone inside America."
Justin King, a writer for FifthColumnNews.com, which bills itself as neither left- nor right-wing, asserted in an article last month that the "real threat" of Jade Helm 15 isn't the exercise itself, but rather how it's distracting people from what he calls the "real conspiracy" of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade deal being pushed by President Obama and opposed by many Democrats.
Most of the concern is still coming from right-wing sources, though.
New Times has received several more emails from people worried about the exercise's implications. One Phoenix resident told us earlier this month that:
"Questioning Jade Helm does not make me a whacko. Quick example, why are the State Department and the FBI involved in a military exercise? When would the FBI ever be used for a military operation that - rational thinking - would always be outside the United States? What's the value of having US soldiers "blending in" within the area of the exercise? Maybe helpful if a war breaks out in Canada, but not anywhere else in the world. To question things like this does not make a person a conspiracy theorist or a whacko. While there certainly are lunatic fringe people in this world, people like me are not waiting behind our front doors, armed and waiting for the military to invade our neighbor."
We also received a note from the local guy who sparked our original post:
"I was the 'wacko' that sent that jade helm letter. you might find this of interest, since apparently the link that i sent to you was taken down. this is the pdf for the armys own resettlement project. i also might add that this 'exercise' is ILLEGAL *look up posse comitatus* and that now there are new bright military spotlights on some corners on miller road in buckeye. by the way, you forgot to mention the chinooks, the special forces, the green beret,and other military offices also included in jade helm while calling me and fellow concerned citizens 'wacko'. thank you for informing the public of this exercise, although it might have been more informative had you actually done any research on the subject. have a nice day!"
He included the following link to bolster his concerns: http://info.publicintelligence.net/USArmy-InternmentResettlement.pdf
Posts from concerned Valley residents pepper a Facebook site dedicated to all things Jade Helm 15:
"Anonymously from the Operation Jade Helm And Beyond inbox:
"I'm in Glendale (AZ) and something hasn't been right all day. Huge dump trucks and white shuttles without windows. hardly any people. People driving out with spare tires strapped on the hoods of their cars. You'll see."
...and another example...
"Anonymously from the Operation Jade Helm And Beyond inbox:
"Anonymous please, close friend works at AZDOT in Tucson Az., Two days ago a truck and trailer can in needing a flat tire changed. It was carrying two military vehicles marked UN on them. All workers in the shop were told no cameras,video or questions. Men dressed in dark blue uniforms."
Last month, a Rasmussen poll indicated that 45 percent of Americans "are concerned that the government will use U.S. military training operations to impose greater control over some states, with 19% who are Very Concerned."
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.
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Follow Ray Stern on Twitter at @RayStern
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