The US military says its seven-state Operation Jade Helm 15 this summer will be a training drill for special forces—but Gov. Greg Abbott appears to have his doubts. Amid online conspiracy theories that the operation is an excuse for President Obama to impose martial law on Texas and put political prisoners in FEMA camps disguised as closed Walmarts, the Texas governor announced last week he had ordered the State Guard to monitor the military exercises to safeguard the "safety, constitutional rights, private property rights, and civil liberties" of Texans, NPR reports. This was too much for some of Abbott's fellow Republicans, including former State Rep. Todd Smith, who accused the governor of "pandering to idiots."
"I am horrified that I have to choose between the possibility that my Governor actually believes this stuff and the possibility that my Governor doesn't have the backbone to stand up to those who do," Smith wrote in an open letter to the governor. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, says he does not believe the military operation is cover for a coup, but his office will ask the Pentagon about it anyway because "the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration," Raw Story reports. It's not clear why the July 15 to September 15 exercise has generated such paranoia, though the "perhaps impolitic" slogan "Mastering the Human Domain" may have worked against it, writes Bob Campbell at the Odessa American.