Originally published April 28 2015
Huge crowd of concerned Texas citizens protest Jade Helm at Bastrop Commissioners Court
by B. Pierson
(NaturalNews) A diverse array of Americans was present at the Bastrop County Commissioners Court at 9:00 AM on April 27, 2015. Citizens filled the seats in the courtroom, lined the walls and crowded the hall outside. Most of them were anxious to attend the meeting that would take place two hours later, where Operation Jade Helm 15 would be discussed.
By 11:00 AM, the crowd had more than doubled. Veterans, concerned citizens and even the county commissioners were astonished by the huge turnout, especially by how many younger persons showed up, informed through alternative and social media.
The crowd was too large for the courtroom, so a separate viewing room was set up downstairs, where a TV relayed the court proceedings via Skype, which cut out intermittently to the immense frustration of the local citizens, many of whom never heard their questions answered or concerns addressed.
County Judge Paul Pape presided over the meeting and said its purpose was to inform and answer questions about Jade Helm, not entertain conspiracy, advocate political viewpoints or try to change constituents' minds on the matter.
(The courtroom was packed, with no place left to sit or stand.)
Judge Pape began the meeting and introduced two representatives for Operation Jade Helm, which he referred to as "this project." Director of Public Affairs of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria would be providing most of the information during the meeting, and he was joined by Thomas Meade, the operations planner for Jade Helm.
"RMTs [realistic military training] are training that is conducted off of the federal reservation," said Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria after being introduced. "It is done on private property, and it's a process that's designed to ensure proper coordination between the Department of Defense and representatives of the local and regional authorities [who] are made aware of the training. ... It's held on private property and it can be held in some instances on public property, such as like a state park."
(Even the impromptu viewing room downstairs was crowded with at least 80 attendants.)
Landowners volunteered their private property for the Jade Helm exercises, Lastoria explained, going on to say, "Jade Helm is simply just a challenging eight-week training exercise for unconventional warfare, and it's an exercise that will be conducted throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. ... Jade Helm 15 will run from 15 July to 15 September 2015. Personnel participating in Jade Helm or units participating in Jade Helm will come from U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg. They'll be on the ground for about eight weeks, and we'll have some Navy SEALs participating for about two weeks. United States Air Force Special Operations Command will take part in it at varying points in time throughout the eight weeks. And there will be a small amount of U.S. Marine Force Special Operations Command participating for about two weeks. And then for about five days, 82nd Airborne Division will have a battalion participating with about 600 soldiers, 600 paratroopers."
He also said that "interagency partners" would also be involved, including the State Department and the FBI. Many attendees wondered why the State Department, the government body charged with conducting foreign affairs on the behalf of U.S. citizens and that covered up the murder of our ambassador in Benghazi and started a proxy war in Ukraine under Hillary Clinton's command, would be involved. Lastoria said it was because, when invading a country, "we have to go in, get rid of the enemy forces, a lot of the times we have to rebuild the country, so the Department of State is one of our interagency partners. ... With the State Department, it's all about nation building."
According to Lastoria, another major component of Jade Helm will be soldiers training to blend in with the local community. Several audience members questioned how soldiers would be blending in with the community if they are on private property, and Lastoria responded that "role players" would also be involved, simulating communities in rural land, where soldiers must infiltrate them. The "role players" will be dressed as civilians -- presumably American civilians -- and their job will be to "pick up on" soldiers' activities. The FBI would also be investigating these role players, and soldiers will gather unspecified information to relay to the FBI as well.
Lastoria said that this operation, the first of its kind in U.S. history, was about getting "back to the basics," claiming that not going through with these exercises would be like allowing a muscle to wither. He did not clarify why the U.S. military needs to train its muscle to adapt to U.S. terrain, nor did he clarify this point when asked later by the audience, instead repeating the line that it would help our soldiers overseas.
During the presentation, Lastoria claimed that the name "Jade Helm" means nothing. They're just completely random, pointless words, according to him, so don't read too much into it or try to associate it with China's rising economy and military or the blue helmets of UN's peacekeeping forces. He also claimed that the information regarding Jade Helm that was released on the internet was not finalized and citizens were never supposed to have seen that they labeled Utah and Texas as "hostile." They had meant to take the South and Southwest and draw a fictional country out in the ocean instead. He promised that, next time, the military will do a better job of concealing this information so citizens don't get worried.
At this point in the meeting, Lastoria now said that "a lot of," rather than all of, the training in Texas will "take place on private land," and soldiers will be identified by an orange armband in public.
Once the Commissioners opened the floor to questions, one citizen asked, "In light of the people's overwhelming opposition to this martial law program, would the Commissioners Court consider reversing their invitation to these guys, and would the court be offended if I told the colonel that I didn't believe a single word that he just said?" The question was met by overwhelming applause from the audience, in both the courtroom and the viewing room below. Judge Pape responded, stutteringly, by saying that the agenda was to discuss Operation Jade Helm, and they wouldn't be taking any action whatsoever.
One commenter asked if military personnel would be knocking on people's doors. Lastoria hinted that that is a possibility. "We shouldn't have to," he said, claiming that the only reason would be to warn residents about helicopters flying overhead at night.
When a question referred to Jade Helm possibly being connected to Agenda 21, Lastoria actually denied having knowledge about the UN's published plan to control "sustainable development" in the world, despite his high position in dealing with military intelligence of international scope.
Later, a young lady asked if it was possible for the citizens to reverse the court's decision. Judge Pape replied, "I'm not going to say it can't be reversed." However, he also said that the commissioners absolutely would not reverse their decision, so the decision is final, even though the citizens present indicated that they would have voted otherwise.
One commenter at the meeting asked why more isn't being done to secure the almost-nonexistent southern border, while millions of dollars are being spent on this single military operation that concerned citizens have overwhelmingly rejected. The courtroom burst into applause at the question, but Lastoria declined to answer it.
Upon being asked whether the military might assume a law enforcement role, Lastoria hinted that the Posse Comitatus Act may in fact be violated, saying, "We shouldn't have to" enforce the law, but soldiers will act as "good Samaritans" in such cases if necessary. Another commenter asked about the federal government labeling "right-wingers," "gun owners," "Christians," Constitution advocates and others as "domestic terrorists" and if this concerned Lastoria at all, but he refused to answer, instead telling him to take it up with the President and the Department of Homeland Security. The commenter ended his turn saying to Judge Pape, "I voted for you, sir, I respect you. And the people of Bastrop do not want this." His comments were followed by another loud round of applause.
(Center: Judge Paul Pape; Far right: Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria.)
Judge Pape later expressed surprise at the large turnout of citizens concerned about military training taking place in their backyard. He said that it was "good for democracy," although no democratic process was involved and the people had no vote other than to vote for representatives now making decisions contrary to their constituents' wishes.
At one point, Lastoria himself brought up the issue of the five Wal-Mart Supercenters that recently closed under mysterious circumstances. In response to a question regarding UN trucks being spotted in so-called "hostile" states, he said that neither the United Nations, the DHS nor Wal-Mart have anything to do with Jade Helm. Later, Lastoria would say that the Wal-Mart closings were due to "labor disputes" and a retaliation against unionization attempts, though only one of the closed Wal-Marts was known for labor activism. He essentially claimed to know that Wal-Mart was engaged in a conspiracy and was lying about the "plumbing issues," even though he also pretends to have no knowledge of Agenda 21. Further on during the presentation, Lastoria refused to answer a question as to whether he would violate the Constitution by following an order to disarm American citizens.
Lastoria also explained that exercises would be taking place in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida, spreading out across the conservative-leaning South and Southwest. Additionally, the operation will involve cybersecurity exercises. The military representatives did not specify what kind of cybersecurity exercises but did say that they would not occur in Bastrop County.
After 1:00 PM, Judge Pape adjourned the meeting, leaving many in the audience with unanswered questions. As the audience filed out of the courthouse, many citizens muttered their distrust of the military operation, complained that Lastoria refused to properly answer questions and accused the Commissioners Court of being bought off. The crowd left the courtroom, frustrated with a government they can't trust and angered by their lack of political recourse in another of many dark days in American "democracy."
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