The U.S. military’s plans to conduct a massive military exercise called Operation Jade Helm in Texas and other Southwestern states has provoked tremendous controversy. Some people are asserting the exercise is a prelude to martial law. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered Texas State Guard forces to keep an eye on the military. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said that Abbott’s order was “one of the dumbest things I have ever heard.” Virginia loves the military, McAuliffe said. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia accused Texans of being paranoid.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is trying to put people’s minds at ease. “We’re not taking over anything,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said.
Last March, I wrote about Operation Jade Helm in my article “The Biggest Threat to American Liberty,” where I pointed out the antipathy toward standing armies that characterized America’s Founding Fathers and our American ancestors. The possibility that an Operation Jade Helm could have been held in the United States during most of the first century of America’s history was non-existent because our American ancestors never permitted a large permanent military establishment to be part of America’s governmental system. It was only after World War II that a vast permanent military establishment, along with the CIA and the NSA, became grafted onto our federal governmental structure, thereby effectively becoming the fourth branch of the federal government and the most powerful branch at that.
What modern-day Americans don’t want to recognize is that the adoption of the national-security establishment fundamentally altered the founding federal governmental structure of the nation. That was pointed out by President Eisenhower in his Farewell Address in 1961. He told the American people that the “military-industrial complex” was entirely new to our nation and, more important, that it posed a grave threat to the liberties and democratic processes of the American people. His concerns were echoed by President Kennedy, who repeatedly expressed concerns about the possibility of regime change in the United States brought about by the military.
Of course, people like McAuliffe and Manchin would undoubtedly say that Ike, JFK, America’s Founding Fathers, and our American ancestors were paranoid. The military-industrial complex, CIA, and NSA are our friends, they say. They keep us safe. They are patriots. They would do nothing to harm our nation.But people like McAuliffe and Manchin just don’t get it. As I point out in my new book Regime Change: The JFK Assassination, the national-security establishment wouldn’t effect regime change here within the United States out of bad motives. On the contrary, if they ever felt the need to exercise the omnipotent power they wield within America’s governmental structure, it would be entirely out of their desire to protect “national security.” In other words, they would be doing it for us, not to us.
Consider the regime-change operation that took place in Chile in 1973. At that time, Chile’s governmental structure was similar to that of the United States today — four branches of government — executive, legislative, judicial, and national-security. The national-security branch concluded that the democratically president, Salvador Allende, who headed up the executive branch, posed a grave threat to Chilean “national security” and, thus, needed to be removed from office in order to save the nation.
There was one big problem, however — the Chilean constitution, which, like the U.S. Constitution, provided for only two ways to remove a president from office — impeachment and the next election.
Articles of impeachment failed to garner the required number of votes under the Chilean constitution and the next presidential election was about 3 years hence. The national-security branch was convinced that the nation could not survive that long with Allende in office. So, they went on the attack, with one branch of the government waging war against another branch. When Allende refused an unconditional surrender demand, his position in the National Palace was attacked by Chilean infantry and armor troops while Chilean Air Force fighter jets fired missiles into the palace. The national-security branch won the war, dissolved the executive and legislative branches, and made the judicial branch a subordinate branch of the military.
Pinochet’s troops and intelligence agents proceeded to kidnap and round up people who were suspected of being communists, took them to concentration camps or military dungeons, tortured them, raped them, detained them indefinitely, re-educated them, or killed them. In all, around 40,000-50,000 suspected communists fell victim to the regime-change operation, with some 3,000 of them being killed.
There are two important things to recognize in this operation: The national-security branch always made it clear that they were the good guys — the patriots who were saving the country from communism. The bad guys — the traitors — they said, were the president and other Chileans who held communist and socialist beliefs or who had served in the Allende administration. In the minds of the national-security establishment, while their actions were illegal under the constitution, they were saving the country — they were protecting “national security.”
In fact, that is precisely the mindset of many Pinochet lovers today. Despite the manifest illegality of the action under the Chilean constitution, they take the firm position that the Chilean national-security branch of the government did the right thing. The constitution, they say, is not a suicide pact. It is the job of the military and the intelligence branch of the government, they say, to protect “national security,” including when “national security” is threatened by a democratically president of the country.
The other important thing to recognize in this operation was that the U.S. national-security branch held that same mindset — that it is the moral duty of a national-security branch of a government to do whatever is necessary to protect “national security,” including removing a president from office whose policies are threatening “national security.”
How do we know this?
Because it was the Pentagon and the CIA that were teaching that principle to Chilean military officials from 1970-1973 at the School of the Americas. They were teaching them that they had a moral duty to violate the constitution and remove Allende from power, in order to protect “national security.” After all, don’t forget that it was the U.S. government that had thrown the forces into motion for a military coup in Chile soon after Allende was sworn into office in 1970. As part of its regime-change operations in Chile, the U.S. military and the CIA engaged in bribery, kidnapping, and assassination, and, as President Nixon ordered them, to secretly “make the economy scream.”
Moreover, both the CIA and the Pentagon were ecstatic over the Chilean regime-change operation. It’s what they had been working for three years. And given the impending defeat of U.S. forces in Vietnam, the U.S. national-security state couldn’t have been more pleased with what their counterparts were accomplishing in Chile and Latin America — rounding up, incarcerating, torturing, and killing people who believed in communism without taking hardly any military casualties.
Is the U.S. national-security state using Operation Jade Helm to do what the Chilean national-security state did in Chile? Not likely. It’s just a training exercise, in order to be prepared for any and all contingencies, especially ones that involve threats to “national security.”
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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