A former director of the CIA and NSA said Wednesday that hysteria in Texas over a 2015 U.S. military training exercise called Jade Helm was fueled by Russians wanting to dominate “the information space,” and that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott‘s decision to send the Texas State Guard to monitor the operation gave them proof of the power of such misinformation campaigns.
Michael Hayden, speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe podcast, chalked up peoples’ fear over Jade Helm 15 to “Russian bots and the American alt-right media [that] convinced many Texans [Jade Helm] was an Obama plan to round up political dissidents.”
Abbott ordered the State Guard to monitor the federal exercise soon after news broke of the operation. Hayden said that move gave Russians the go-ahead to continue — and possibly expand — their efforts to spread fear.
“At that point, I’m figuring the Russians are saying, ‘We can go big time,’” Hayden said of Abbott’s response. “At that point, I think they made the decision, ‘We’re going to play in the electoral process.’”
Jade Helm 15 was a planned military training exercise that became a fascination of conspiracy theorists before it even began. The exercise, which spanned several states, began in Texas in Bastrop County in 2015 and was described by federal officials as routine. But some conspiracy theorists speculated that the exercise was a covert effort to institute martial law. Hayden was not CIA director at this time.
Weeks before the exercise began, Abbott wrote a letter to the State Guard asking them to keep an eye on the operation so “Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.” In the letter, Abbott added that he had “the utmost respect for the deep patriotism of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to fight for and defend our freedom.”
Yet the move prompted significant criticism. Democrats questioned whether Abbott really trusted the military. Even some Republicans — including former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — spoke out in support of the exercise. Former state Rep. Todd Smith accused Abbott of “pandering to idiots.”
“I think it’s okay to question your government — I do it on a pretty regular basis,” former Gov. Rick Perry, who is now U.S. Energy Secretary, told reporters at the time. “The military’s something else.”
A spokesperson for Abbott did not immediately return The Texas Tribune’s request for comment Thursday, but Democrats are already seizing on Hayden’s remarks to further criticize the governor for calling the State Guard to monitor the operation.
“It doesn’t take an intelligence expert to see that Trump Republican Greg Abbott calling the Texas National Guard on the U.S. Military was downright idiocy,” Manny Garcia, the deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a news release, misidentifying the Texas State Guard. “Abbott still owes the men and women of our armed forces, and every single Texan, an apology.”
Hayden was CIA director from 2006 to 2009. His allegation isn’t the first one connecting Russian misinformation campaigns and Texas. Last year, federal lawmakers revealed a trove of information from ads purchased on Facebook, including ones showing that two Russian Facebook pages managed to organize dueling rallies in front of a Houston mosque in 2016.
Three judges suspended for drunken 3 AM fight at White Castle — that ended with two shot
Three judges were suspended after engaging in a drunken shooting outside a White Castle.
"Three Indiana judges involved in a Downtown Indianapolis fight in May that ended with two of the judges shot have been suspended without pay after the Indiana Supreme Court determined they committed judicial misconduct," the Indianapolis Star reports. "In an opinion issued Tuesday, the court said judges Bradley Jacobs, Andrew Adams and Sabrina Bell 'engaged in judicial misconduct by appearing in public in an intoxicated state and behaving in an injudicious manner and by becoming involved in a verbal altercation.'"
What Zelensky knew: The devastating and darkly ironic impact of Trump’s attempt to bribe Ukraine
In their effort to exculpate President Donald Trump in the impeachment inquiry, Republicans put Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s denial that he ever felt pressure from the White House to open up investigations into Democrats at the center of their argument. A new GOP memo says that both leaders have acknowledged “there was no pressure” on the famous July 25 call that sparked the inquiry and thus argues that the allegations made by Democrats that Trump abused his power don’t hold.
Greta Thunberg says ‘people must finally wake up’ to the fact Trump is ‘so extreme’ on climate change
Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg said Tuesday that US President Donald Trump's climate change denialism was "so extreme" that it had helped galvanize the movement to halt long term planetary warming.
She spoke in an interview with AFP on the eve of her departure from North America where she has spent almost three months.
"He's so extreme and he says so extreme things, so I think people wake up by that in a way," the 16-year-old said from on board a sailboat preparing to depart from the East Coast town of Hampton, Virginia for Europe early Wednesday.
"I thought when he got elected, now people will finally, now people must finally wake up," she continued.