Louie Gohmert Gets Why Some Texans Are Worried About a Military Takeover

The Texas congressman is joining others in his state calling for the Pentagon to alter the Jade Helm 15 military exercises.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) walks on the House Chambers floor before a vote for speaker on Capitol Hill January 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. The 114th Congress convened today with Republicans taking majority control of both the Senate and House of Representatives. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Matt Berman
May 5, 2015, 12:11 p.m.

U.S. Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand is pre­par­ing to launch a months long, multi-state ex­er­cise across private and pub­lic land to pre­pare Army spe­cial forces for threats any­where in the world. Or at least that’s what the Pentagon would want you to be­lieve. Of­fi­cials and cit­izens in Texas, one of the states in­volved, see something po­ten­tially more ne­far­i­ous in the ex­er­cise, dubbed Jade Helm 15. And now Rep. Louie Gohmert is join­ing them.

“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,” Gohmert said in a Tues­day state­ment. “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,” Gohmert wrote.

(RE­LATED: Is the Pentagon Mess­ing With Texas?

The con­gress­man took par­tic­u­lar is­sue with the lay­out and la­bels of the Pentagon map for the ex­er­cise. “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.” Gohmert called on the Pentagon to change the map, the names on the map, and said “the tone of the ex­er­cise needs to be com­pletely re­vamped so the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is not in­ten­tion­ally prac­ti­cing war against its own states.”

The Pentagon has in­sisted that claims that Jade Helm is any­thing oth­er than a mil­it­ary ex­er­cise—and one that it says would have in-state eco­nom­ic be­ne­fits—are com­pletely bunk.

“Jade Helm is a long planned and co­ordin­ated ex­er­cise,” a Pentagon spokes­man told CNN. “We are not tak­ing over any­thing.”

(RE­LATED: Which Cit­ies Are Sued the Most for Po­lice Bru­tal­ity?

But that hasn’t quelled con­cern. In late April, Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott sent an open let­ter to the Texas State Guard ask­ing it to keep a tight watch on the ex­er­cise. “Dur­ing the train­ing op­er­a­tion,” Ab­bott wrote, “it is im­port­ant that Tex­ans know their safety, con­sti­tu­tion­al rights, private prop­erty rights, and civil liber­ties will not be in­fringed.”

On Monday, Ab­bott de­fen­ded the let­ter, say­ing that his of­fice is “play­ing a pivotal role of gov­ern­ment and that is to provide in­form­a­tion to people who have ques­tions.”

Over the week­end, Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Ted Cruz told Bloomberg that his Sen­ate of­fice “has reached out to the Pentagon to in­quire about this ex­er­cise,” say­ing he has “no reas­on to doubt [the Pentagon’s] as­sur­ances, but I un­der­stand the reas­on for con­cern and un­cer­tainty.”

(RE­LATED: How Wash­ing­ton De­railed Amtrak

There has been plenty more con­cern from Tex­ans around the state, egged on in part by con­spir­acy-driv­en sites such as In­foWars, as well as minor celebrit­ies. “Wheth­er de­terrence, dis­play of power, or something more cov­ert or de­vi­ous, let’s not come with any pat­ron­iz­ing non­sense of im­pot­ence and sim­pli­city when its ori­gin is in Wash­ing­ton,” writes mar­tial-arts icon Chuck Nor­ris. 

Former Texas gov­ernor and po­ten­tial re­peat pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Rick Perry, though, thinks Ab­bott has gone too far. “It’s OK to ques­tion your gov­ern­ment. I do it on a reg­u­lar basis,” Perry said Tues­day. “But the mil­it­ary is something else.”

The Pentagon only has so many more ways of say­ing, “trust us—not Walk­er, Texas Ranger.”

Cor­rec­tion: An earli­er ver­sion of this story mis­stated the length of the Jade Helm ex­er­cise. It is planned to run from Ju­ly 15 through Septem­ber 15.

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