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OPINION

Please don't feed the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theorists, Gov. Abbott

By JIM MITCHELL | The Dallas Morning News | Published: April 29, 2015

DALLAS (Tribune News Service) — We live in a world of conspiracy theories. Everyone is a victim, a target of someone else in the mind of conspiracy theorists.

So when outlandish theories abound, those in authority have a responsibility to tamp down this nonsense, not feed it.

But alas, as online chatterers fret that Operation Jade Helm 15, a large-scale training operation scheduled for elite military forces, such as the Navy SEALS and Green Berets, is a prelude to some sort of federal government takeover, what does Texas Gov. Greg Abbott do?

He gives “legitimacy” to the chatter in a backhanded sort of way.

The operation will involve about 1,200 personnel operating in Southwestern states including Texas from July 15 to Sept. 15. Instead of saying this is a routine military exercise, Abbott orders the Texas Guard to keep an eye on those federal scoundrels the rest of us call the honorable men and women of the U.S. military.

Never mind that the Southwest might actually allow troops to practice on terrain that resembles the environment they could encounter in the Middle East.

“During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed,” Abbott told Maj. Gen. Gerald “Jake” Betty, commander of the Texas State Guard, in a letter Tuesday.

The right response from Abbott should have been something like this.”Hey folks, it is a legitimate military exercise and my office will be working with the services to make sure these exercises cause as little disruption as possible.”

But as a result of Abbott’s odd command, Texas Democrats have seized this like a dog with a bone and Abbott has given conspiracy theorists space to speculate and agitate.

“If the governor truly respects the men and women of our armed forces, both national and Texan, he shouldn’t make public policy and operational decisions on the basis of tea party Internet chatter or the rants of conspiracy theorists,” said party spokesman Manny Garcia.

Psst, the Martians are coming, too, did you know? Pass it on.

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