A Houston Chronicle editorial is getting a lot of attention. Written by journalist Lisa Falkenberg, the editorial, titled “Dear Texas militia, forget Jade Helm. Please keep an eye on DPS” warns those concerned with Operation Jade Helm to look towards an ongoing and similar procedure called “Operation Strong Safety II”.
Operation Strong Safety II was supposed to last 90 days as a security training measure, is now in it’s 7th month, has cost over 700 million dollars, and has been responsible for over 4,000 new “security” cameras in populated areas.
The editorial in The Houston Chronicle says:
Dear Maj. Gen. Gerald “Jake” Betty,
I hope this letter finds you well. I know over there at the Texas State Guard, y’all got your hands full with Gov. Greg Abbott’s request to snoop on the federal troops while they train in Bastrop in case they try to take our guns and our Texas liberty and our last remaining tubs of pre-recall Blue Bell.
But, as a native Texan and concerned citizen, I humbly ask you to extend your watchful eye toward real chicanery going on a bit further south.
The Texas Department of Public Safety may be a good ol’ homegrown Texas agency, but that never-ending special operation they got going on along the border to curb illegal entry and crime raises more “concerns” than syndicated radio conspiracy theorist Alex Jones can shake a megaphone at.
Start with the name. If you thought the title of the federal training exercise, Jade Helm 15, was vacuous, try Operation Strong Safety II. It’s equally unhelpful and not nearly as poetic.
You want government overreach? If the governor is concerned about 1,000 members of elite U.S. special operations forces coming to Texas to train in a temporary exercise this summer, consider that his predecessor called the same number of Texas National Guard troops – yes, I said National! – to the border for a 90-day “surge” that has now dragged on more than seven months and cost more than $100 million. And lawmakers are on track to approve another $721 million for border security, much of which will go to DPS operations, including a continued influx of state troopers to the increasingly militarized Texas-Mexico border.
The Jade Helm folks are training in mostly remote areas. The Strong Safety troops and troopers are getting up close and personal with Texas residents along the border. And who’s under siege?
You want conspiracy theories? Well, DPS has 4,000 surveillance cameras along that border, and they want more. Sure, they say they’re to monitor the unaccompanied kids and the cartels. But how do we know? What’s more Big Brother than the siege of thousands of prying electronic eyes lurking amid the cacti?
Finally, you want deception? Well, there really haven’t been any valid claims of deception against the military officials organizing the eight-week Jade Helm training exercise across the Southwest. Actually, military officials seem to have been nothing but forthcoming and patient in addressing Texans’ concerns.
DPS? Not so much.
I’ve written before that neither DPS Director Steve McCraw, nor former Gov. Rick Perry, who called for the operation, nor the public officials who went along with it, have provided data to prove the operation has been effective or was needed in the first place.
All we’ve gotten from DPS are anecdotes and unsubstantiated numbers, and the agency has even dragged its feet in complying with public information requests from the Chronicle. Earlier this year, the Austin American-Statesman caught the agency inflating dollar figures on the value of drugs it seized before releasing the information to lawmakers.
Now, it appears that Statesman reporters have debunked another DPS claim: that Operation Strong Safety II took nearly 150 million tons of illegal drugs off the streets.
Turns out, DPS can claim only 10 percent of that haul, according to a Statesman analysis published this week of DPS’ own numbers on its drug interdiction efforts during the latest surge. The rest of the drug seizures came from other law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Border Patrol and other – gulp – federal agencies.
The numbers prompted state Rep. César Blanco, D-El Paso, a former military intelligence analyst, to call out McCraw for failing to provide lawmakers the information they need to determine border funding.
So, in closing, Maj. Gen. Betty, I know you’re a busy man, but I do hope you can take my concerns at least as seriously as the governor has taken those of Texas’ resident conspiracy theorists.
This border operation isn’t a training exercise. It isn’t a figment of anybody’s Vitamin B-12-laced imagination. And neither are those squirrelly guys at the DPS.
They’re coming for our liberty, our privacy and our pocketbooks. Maybe even our Blue Bell.
We need a volunteer Texas militia we can trust to look into it for us. Nobody else seems to care.
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