Pentagon, kill more Syrian civilians, New York Times says


This video from the USA says about itself:

Iraq Reports Civilian Casualties in U.S. Airstrikes on ISIS

13 October 2014

Iraq has reported civilian casualties resulting from U.S. airstrikes targeting ISIS. According to the Los Angeles Times about 18 civilian casualties were found after a building was bombed in Euphrates River Valley town, Hit. The U.S. military has denied that there is any evidence of the reported casualties. Are these casualties inevitable when carrying out airstrikes in highly populated areas? We discuss it, in this Lip News clip with Mark Sovel and Elliot Hill.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

The New York Times calls for blood in Iraq-Syria war

27 May 2015

The New York Times published a major front-page critique Tuesday of the Obama administration’s military tactics in the air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The article quotes several US and Iraqi military and intelligence officials, most of them unnamed, denouncing the supposed restraint on bombing due to excessive fears of killing civilians.

The article’s headline, “With ISIS in Cross Hairs, U.S. Holds Back to Protect Civilians,” gives the flavor of the piece, suggesting that ISIS could be easily crippled or destroyed if only the White House were not so squeamish.

Reporter Eric Schmitt—one of a group of Times correspondents who are regular conduits for the CIA and Pentagon—begins the article, “American intelligence analysts have identified seven buildings in downtown Raqqa in eastern Syria as the main headquarters of the Islamic State. But the buildings have gone untouched during the 10-month allied air campaign.

“And just last week, convoys of heavily armed Islamic State fighters paraded triumphantly through the streets of the provincial capital Ramadi in western Iraq after forcing Iraqi troops to flee. They rolled on unscathed by coalition fighter-bombers.”

An accompanying photograph shows ISIS fighters brandishing weapons atop an armored personnel carrier parading through the streets of Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital in eastern Syria. The obvious implication is that what could be targeted for a photograph could also be targeted for a smart bomb or drone-fired missile.

Schmitt continues: “American and allied warplanes are equipped with the most precise aerial arsenal ever fielded. But American officials say they are not striking significant—and obvious—Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians.”

According to Schmitt, “But many Iraqi commanders, and even some American officers, argue that exercising such prudence is harming the coalition’s larger effort to destroy the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or Daesh, and that it illustrates the limitations of American air power in the Obama administration’s strategy.”

And further, “A persistent complaint of Iraqi officials and security officers is that the United States has been too cautious in its air campaign, frequently allowing columns of Islamic State fighters essentially free movement on the battlefield.”

The language is provocative. The US targeting process is “often cumbersome”; critics “say there are too few warplanes carrying out too few missions under too many restrictions.” Pilots hover over targets for hours waiting “for someone to make a decision to engage or not.” US officials responded to Iraqi targeting requests by attacking “the least important 5 percent” of targets, and “either neglected our requests or responded very late.”

Schmitt quotes exactly one critic by name, a Major Muhammed al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi officer in Anbar province, who blames alleged US “restraint” for the loss of Ramadi and other Iraqi military defeats. Two other sources are described as the “pilot of an American A-10 attack plane” and an Iraqi “army commander in Salahuddin Province, of which Tikrit is the capital.” Otherwise, the critics are merely referred to in the most general terms, suggesting that the article is not the product of genuine investigation, but a semi-official trial balloon, alerting the television producers and newspaper editors who take their lead from the Times that a significant shift in US military tactics is being prepared.

When Seymour Hersh published his recent exposé of US government lies about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he was harshly attacked by critics in the corporate-controlled media for relying heavily on witnesses whose identities had to be kept secret for their own protection.

Schmitt uses anonymous sources for the opposite purpose—not to debunk US government lies, but to spread them, putting into circulation the propaganda of the military-intelligence apparatus, backed by powerful political forces, including the entire Republican Party and significant sections of the Obama administration itself. But there will be no media pundits denouncing Schmitt and the Times for their “thinly sourced” report on the US bombing campaign against ISIS.

As Glenn Greenwald points out today in the Intercept, the Times article fails the most elementary test of journalistic objectivity, since it accepts without question the claims of the Pentagon and CIA that the US bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria has up to now spared civilians. Greenwald cites credible claims from independent observers of nearly 1,000 civilians killed by US bombing since the air war against ISIS began last summer.

The actual figures given in the Schmitt article are 12,500 ISIS fighters killed and only two Syrian children as collateral damage—ludicrous Pentagon numbers that echo CIA Director John Brennan’s claim, at one point in the drone war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that there had not been a single civilian casualty.

It is notable that Schmitt directly compares the supposedly feeble US air campaign against ISIS—only 15 strikes a day, with three quarters of planes returning without dropping their bomb loads because of restrictions on targeting—to the more aggressive campaigns in Libya (50 strikes a day), the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 (85 strikes a day), and the 2003 invasion of Iraq (a staggering 800 strikes a day), in what was described by the Bush administration as an effort to produce “shock and awe” among the Iraqi victims.

The conclusion is ominous: the US government and its Arab and imperialist allies are preparing to escalate the air war in Iraq and Syria to produce thousands, if not tens of thousands, of civilian casualties.

Schmitt’s article is a signal to begin preparing the American people to accept war crimes on the scale of the previous US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it is a demonstration that the Times, which sets the political agenda for the bulk of the American media, will play its role in justifying and covering up for these crimes.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday that the US had agreed to provide air support for so-called “moderate rebels” being trained in Turkey, once they cross the border into Syria: here.

Protests against United States military bases in Japan


This video is called Okinawa protest at Henoko base.

By Ben McGrath:

Protests in Japan denounce US military presence

27 May 2015

Japanese protesters gathered outside the parliament building in Tokyo on Sunday to demand the removal of a US base on the island of Okinawa. Numerous rallies have been held recently, both on the island and the Japanese mainland, to oppose the US military’s presence in the country.

An estimated 15,000 people took part in Sunday’s protest, denouncing plans to move the US Marine Corp Air Station Futenma base to a new location at Henoko, which is currently being constructed. Futenma is located in the city of Ginowan, while Henoko sits along a less populated coast in Okinawa. Many people held banners reading, “No to Henoko.” They demanded the base be removed from the prefecture altogether.

One protester, Akemi Kitajima, told the press: “We must stop this construction. The government is trying to force the plan, no matter how strongly Okinawa says ‘no’ to it.” The demonstrators also expressed opposition to US plans to deploy CV-22 Ospreys to the Yokota Air Base in Tokyo.

A larger protest took place on the previous Sunday, when 35,000 people gathered on Okinawa to oppose the base relocation plan. The protests began that Friday and continued throughout the weekend. On the Saturday, demonstrators marched around the Futenma base and were joined in other cities across the country by approximately 2,600 others. Besides their opposition to the base, people shouted slogans, such as “Oppose enhanced Japan-US defense ties,” directed against Japan’s turn to militarism.

Plans to move the Futenma base have been in the works since 1996, following the 1995 brutal kidnapping and rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by three US servicemen, which resulted in widespread anti-US protests. Other, less publicized crimes by US personnel have also stoked anti-US sentiment.

Okinawa, however, is on the front lines of any conflict with China. A majority of the 47,000 American troops stationed in Japan are on the island, strategically located in the East China Sea adjacent to the Chinese mainland. Okinawa plays a key role in Washington’s “pivot to Asia,” designed to surround China militarily and economically subordinate it to US interests.

There is little chance the Obama administration would agree to relocate the Marine base off the island, especially at a time when it is engaged in provocations with China. The relocation of the base, which was outlined in a 2006 agreement between the US and Japanese governments, has provoked persistent protests. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came to office in 2009 promising to revise the agreement, but the Obama administration refused point blank to discuss the issue with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and worked to undermine him. He was forced to accept the 2006 deal, then resigned in June 2010. His DPJ replacement, Naoto Kan, quickly reaffirmed his full support for the US alliance.

The current Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government has not only made clear that the base relocation will proceed. It has stepped-up the remilitarization of Japan, acting in concert with Washington as part of the US “pivot” against China.

The recent demonstrations have been organized by citizens groups with ties to the Okinawan prefectural government. Governor Takeshi Onaga was elected last November as an independent, largely on his opposition to the Futenma base and its relocation. He is formerly of the ruling LDP and draws support from the conservative Shinpukai faction that left the LDP due to its support for the Okinawan bases.

Okinawans have for decades had a strained relationship both with Japan and the United States. Known as the Ryukyu Kingdom until it was annexed by Imperial Japan in 1879, the island saw heavy combat at the end of World War II, during which more than 100,000 civilians were killed. Following the war, Okinawa remained under direct US control until 1972, two decades after the US occupation ended in the rest of Japan.

Bin Laden’s death, in Hollywood pro-torture film and reality


This video says about itself:

Zero Dark Thirty: Glorifying torture in bed with the CIA

16 December 2012

Writer Glenn Greenwald argues that Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, which is already a front-runner to win the 2013 Best Film Oscar, is politically and morally reprehensible and a glorification of torture. Hollywood and the film’s director Kathryn Bigelow have climbed into bed with the CIA and produced pernicious propaganda for the view that the USA is always on the side of “good”, whatever our enemies do is always because they are “evil”, and anyone who is a Muslim is a “terrorist suspect”.

By David Walsh in the USA:

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty

CIA-embedded Hollywood liars and their lies

15 May 2015

Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, was a detestable work for many reasons. The film, released in December 2012 to much critical acclaim, was promoted as the true story of the decade-long hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, assassinated by the US military in Pakistan in May 2011.

Now we know, thanks to Seymour Hersh and his article in the London Review of Books, that, along with everything else, the Bigelow-Boal film was a pack of lies from beginning to end. About the only plot element of Zero Dark Thirty that remains unrefuted is that the CIA did indeed operate illegal “black sites” and horribly torture people.

As our original review noted, the film’s central figure, CIA agent Maya, is shown “conducting a single-minded pursuit of clues leading to the whereabouts of bin Laden, while bravely battling resistance from the entire male-dominated leadership of the CIA until she finally prevails.

“According to this improbable version of events, the junior female analyst single-handedly brought about the May 1, 2011 raid on the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan that ended in the assassination of bin Laden and the shooting of several other defenseless men, women and children.”

“Improbable” seems to be the key word here.

Hersh points out in his lengthy piece that bin Laden was not living secretly at the time of his killing in a well-guarded hideout, as depicted in the film, but “had been a prisoner of the ISI [Pakistani intelligence service] at the Abbottabad compound since 2006.” He further explains “that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011 [seconded by Zero Dark Thirty], but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer [a “walk-in”!] who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US.”

So there was no intense debate at CIA headquarters as to whether bin Laden was actually living at the location in question, an important sequence in Bigelow’s film. In the face of rather wishy-washy superiors, Maya boldly insists it is a “100 percent” certainty that the house’s mysterious resident is indeed the al Qaeda leader. In actual fact, Pakistani officials had acknowledged to their American counterparts he was there in Abbottabad (“less than two miles from the Pakistan Military Academy,” and “another mile or so away” from “a Pakistani army combat battalion headquarters,” observes Hersh) and even handed over a DNA sample to prove the point.

Nor was there a deadly shoot-out at the compound. The Pakistani military and intelligence deliberately stood down and let the US Navy Seal team do its dirty work. “An ISI liaison officer flying with the Seals guided them into the darkened house and up a staircase to bin Laden’s quarters,” writes Hersh. Bin Laden was unguarded and unarmed, living on the third floor of the “shabby” house “in a cell with bars on the window and barbed wire on the roof.”

Nor did any CIA official identify the body after the murder, as Maya is shown doing in Bigelow’s film, because two members of the Seal team obliterated bin Laden, an elderly, seriously ailing man. Hersh writes that “some members of the Seal team had bragged to colleagues and others that they had torn bin Laden’s body to pieces with rifle fire. The remains, including his head, which had only a few bullet holes in it, were thrown into a body bag and, during the helicopter flight back to Jalalabad, some body parts were tossed out over the Hindu Kush mountains—or so the Seals claimed.”

So much for the events that Bigelow absurdly claimed only “come along once or twice in a millennium”! So much for what Zero Dark Thirty’s director praised as “the brave work of those professionals in the military and intelligence communities”!

Bigelow and Boal hardly made a secret of the fact that they enjoyed intimate and unprecedented cooperation from the CIA and the Obama administration in the development of the project. Emails and transcripts released in May 2012 revealed that the previous July Bigelow and Boal had met with Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers and other Defense Department officials. Boal had earlier held discussions with top administration officials, including Obama’s Chief Counterterrorism Advisor John O. Brennan and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough.

One of the released emails, from a CIA spokesperson, explained that the agency and other US government entities “have been engaging with the film’s screenwriter, Mark Boal. … Both Mark and Kathryn have told us how impressed they are with the Agency’s work in the UBL [Usama bin Laden] operation and how eager they are to bring that to the screen.”

The CIA and the administration gave the green light to the film, vetted or had changes made in its script and gloated about its usefulness as propaganda.

One of the principal lines of defense of the filmmakers and their apologists against critics was that Zero Dark Thirty did not render a judgment, was apolitical and simply presented the unadorned facts.

Boal evidently chose to believe (and pass on) every bit of information provided to him by the CIA, not exactly an organization known for its scrupulous adherence to the truth.

In an email sent May 10, 2011, Boal informs George Little of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs that he and Bigelow “are making a film about the extraordinary effort to capture or kill Usama Bin Laden. Given the historical nature of the subject matter, we intend to make accuracy and authenticity hallmarks of the production, for we believe that this is one of those rare instances where truth really is more interesting than fiction.”

One doesn’t know whether to laugh or …

In another remarkable email from June 13, 2011, Defense Department Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson wrote Under Secretary of Defense Vickers that “At the direction of Director [Leon] Panetta, CIA is cooperating fully [with the filmmakers] … For the intelligence case, they [Boal and Bigelow] are basically using the WH[White House]-approved talking points we used the night of the operation.”

And, as it turns out, those talking points were a series of fabrications.

In a February 2013 radio interview, Boal asserted: “Of course we tried to be as honest as we could. Who would go into a movie like this knowing there’s going to be the scrutiny there is, knowing the importance, knowing the deep underlying fissures in our political system on the policy issues and try to play fast and loose? You’d have to be out of your mind to do that.” Was Boal out of his mind then? Or had he simply bought into the “war on terror” so deeply that he was incapable of identifying lies when they were told him?

It is almost farcical. This is Boal, in the same radio interview, on the details of the hunt for bin Laden, now exposed as part of a White House-CIA cover story:

“I think that what led to Osama Bin Laden’s death is the work of thousands of people over the course of 10 years. We depict some of them. There were many different places that the information came from. Some of it came from the detainee program. A lot of it came out of good old-fashioned sleuthing, detective work, some of it came out of electronic surveillance. There’s a whole host of methods, but at the end of the day what the movie is really about that there’s a cerebral cortex involved here.”

Boal here admits somewhat grudgingly—after all, he is a liberal-minded man!—that only “some” of the information came from “the detainee program,” i.e., torture. And, as a result of Boal’s including this claim in the film, Zero Dark Thirty became part of the argument in certain circles for the effectiveness of “enhanced interrogation.” But, in any case, it was all made up! Interrogations and torture had nothing to do with bin Laden’s being located.

Hersh writes: “That US intelligence had learned of bin Laden’s whereabouts from information acquired by waterboarding and other forms of torture,” a complete invention, was “pushed by [John] Brennan and [CIA director] Leon Panetta.” A bunch of retired CIA officers had been called in, according to one of Hersh’s sources, “‘to help with the cover story. So the old-timers come in and say why not admit that we got some of the information about bin Laden from enhanced interrogation?’ At the time, there was still talk in Washington about the possible prosecution of CIA agents who had conducted torture.”

It is difficult to express in words the contempt one feels for individuals like Bigelow and Boal.

They were both “leftists” of a sort once upon a time. In the 1970s Bigelow (born 1951) was a radical opponent of the Vietnam War, a figure on the artistic “avant-garde scene” and a student of postmodernism at Columbia University. One of her earliest film projects was a critique of US counterinsurgency methods and the use of death squads.

According to Jordan Michael Smith in the Nation, Boal (born 1973), a graduate of Oberlin College, “began writing for The Village Voice in 1998, documenting concerns about the burgeoning US surveillance infrastructure. … Boal was also freelancing for Mother Jones. In a terrific 1999 cover story, he investigated a garment factory in Kentucky that qualified as a sweatshop because of its below-sustenance wages, dangerous working conditions and intimidation against union organizers.”

Both have evolved, along with many other former middle class protesters and dissidents, into enthusiastic defenders of the state and its brutal operations, at home and abroad.

“You gotta be kidding me.” – Seymour Hersh on the timing of the new Bin Laden documents: here.

SEAL Team Six the classified US special operations unit best known for killing Osama bin Laden, has grown into a “global manhunting machine”, that often kills civilians and operates with only partial oversight, according to a major new report: here.

In a lengthy article published Sunday, the New York Times provided a glimpse into the criminal and grisly methods employed by Seal Team 6, a secret unit within the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The unit was made famous by the phony accounts of its assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, cover stories that were blown last month by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, who exposed the operation as the cold-blooded murder of an unarmed and decrepit individual who had been fingered by Pakistani intelligence: here.

United States warplanes killing Iraqi civilians again


The identity document of Danya Laith Hazem, eight, killed in air strike on 4 April in the village of Fadhiliya. ‘The US-led coalition needs to be far more open about who it is killing,’ says one critic. Photograph: Courtesy of Family

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Slaughter of Iraqi family in suspected US-led air strike hints at cost of war

Five members of one family, including a pregnant woman and girl aged eight, died in one village. Other victims of the anti-Isis air campaign may go unrecorded

Fazel Hawramy in Irbil and Raya Jalabi in New York

Thursday 14 May 2015 20.01 BST

Mustafa was jolted awake by the thunderous sound of two large explosions. As the ground shook beneath him, he could hear a young woman screaming in the distance.

Bolting out his front door, he found several hundred men running through the dark towards an olive farm on the outskirts of the village of Fadhiliya, 10 miles north of Mosul. The farm, home to a family of seven, had been hit by an air strike some time after midnight, the local imam said.

Outside the ruins of the two-storey farm house – now a tangled mess of iron rods and concrete slabs – the men found 16-year-old Lina Laith Hazem in hysterics.

They sifted through the rubble for hours, looking for other survivors amid the surrounding chaos. They found only one, Shahd Hazem Abdulla, Lina’s 25-year-old aunt.

“We used our bare hands to pull the bodies out,” said Mustafa, a farmer in his late 40s.

By 9am on 4 April, five corpses had been pulled from the wreckage, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old child. All five were members of the same family: Hazem Abdulla Shahin, 69; his wife Nadya Nouri Dawoud, 60; their son Laith Hazem Abdulla, 43; his pregnant bride Hana Ali Abdulla, 43, and their eight-year-old daughter Danya Laith Hazem.

“We wrapped the dead in blankets and buried them the same day,” said Rahim, a relative of the family who helped uncover the bodies.

Since 8 August a US-led coalition including Canada, Britain, France, Jordan and other countries, has carried out several thousand air strikes, as part of its campaign against the Islamic State militant group, which last year declared it had established a caliphate across vast swaths of Iraq and Syria. …

Until last week, the US denied that any civilians had been killed in either Syria or Iraq during the nine-month campaign. Following reports that 52 civilians had been killed in an air strike in Syria, the Pentagon announced that it would launch an investigation.

But watchdog groups, like the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, warn that many more civilian casualties have gone uncounted. By SOHR’s count, at least 66 civilians have been killed by coalition air strikes in Syria alone since last September.

A local Iraqi member of parliament said he was in no doubt that the Abdulla Shahin family were killed by a coalition air strike.

“It was a mistake,” Mala Salim Juma Mohammad said. “The coalition needs to compensate the family adequately.” Juma said that although he had not known the family personally he had ascertained they had no connection to militants.

Chris Wood, the founder of Airwars.org, a not-for-profit transparency project aimed both at tracking and archiving the international air war against Islamic State estimates that at least 167 – and as many as 455 – people have been killed during more than 2,100 air strikes in Iraq.

“It’s very difficult to be precise about civilian casualties in the context of a fast-moving air war, in which those areas being bombed by the coalition are firmly under the control of Islamic State/Daesh,” said Wood.

“What is absolutely clear is that coalition claims of no confirmed civilian deaths are untenable. The US-led coalition needs to be far more open about who it is killing – and to swiftly admit its mistakes when strikes go wrong.” …

The deaths of the Abdulla Shahin family, was but the latest misfortune for Fadhiliya, which was overrun by Islamic State militants in August 2014.

Many of the village’s residents, including the five victims of the air strike, were members of the Shabak ethnic minority. Unlike other minorities such as Christians, Turkomans and Yazidis – who are considered devil worshippers by Isis militants – the 300,000 Shabaks are predominantly Sunni Muslims, and have largely escaped being targeted by Isis. But some Shabak are Shia, and have been targeted for abuse by the militants. Many Fadhiliya residents told the Guardian they did not initially flee the Isis advance because they had nowhere else to go and because they did not consider themselves a target. …

But the men, who still live in Fadhiliya, denied there were any Isis units stationed near or around Hazem Abdulla’s olive farm.

But all current and former residents who spoke with the Guardian agreed that Hazem Abdulla and his family had no links with the militant group.

A relative of Hazem – who asked not to be named because some of his relatives still live in the village – told the Guardian that his uncle had no relationship with the militants.

“[The coalition] are killing innocent people in the name of fighting terrorism,” he said.

But he said that after the air strike, the militants used the incident in their propaganda, telling residents of the village that the attack revealed the US-led coalition’s “true” intentions for the region.

“The incident has been hard on the village,” said Mustafa, the neighbour. “It was a shock to everyone. Hazem was a good man.

The day after the bodies were recovered, relatives of Hazem who had previously fled Fadhiliya, held a memorial service for their deceased in a village near Dohuk.

A sombre black banner hung in the village, the names of the dead written in yellow.

“They were martyred with the fire from a coalition strike in the village of Fadhiliya on 04/04/2015,” the banner read. “We come from Allah, and to Him we shall return.”

The White House announced Wednesday that 450 more American troops are being sent to Iraq as “trainers” and “advisers,” bringing the officially acknowledged US force there to over 3,500. The latest escalation of Washington’s renewed military intervention in a country decimated by the war and eight-year-long occupation begun in 2003 comes exactly one year after Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, fell to Islamist fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): here.

Pentagon taking over policing in the USA?


This video from the USA says about itself:

The growing militarisation of police

22 December 2011

Is access to military-grade weapons changing the mentality of crowd control?

In this episode of The Stream, we examine the increasing militarisation of civilian law enforcement with Alex Vitale, associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, and Spencer Ackerman, senior reporter at Wired Magazine.

From MintPress News in the USA:

US Isn’t Invading Texas, But Pentagon Is Prepping For Mass Civil Unrest

The Texas governor’s overreaction to upcoming U.S. military exercises has turned the state into a laughingstock, but might there be real risks from growing Pentagon involvement in protest policing?

May 13, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — Experts agree it’s unlikely that Obama is planning to invade Texas, or that the government is secretly using a network of tunnels built under Wal-Mart stores, but Americans should still worry about the effects of increasing militarization in their lives.

Slated to begin on July 15, Jade Helm 15 is a military training exercise that will take place in multiple states throughout the Southwest. The controversial exercise generated many fears about its real intentions. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott mobilized the National Guard earlier this month, apparently to quell fears that, “President Obama is about to use Special Forces to put Texas under martial law.” The decision was met with widespread criticism and satirical comment that even included other Republican party leaders like Rick Perry and John McCain.

While some of the more extreme theories stretch the boundaries of believability, they reflect real risks about the increasing presence of the military on U.S. soil and the increasing militarization of domestic security forces like the police. This is especially apparent in light of recent National Guard deployments in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of police slayings of black Americans.

Hysteria over Jade Helm 15 has created increased government accountability where there is normally only secrecy. Congress previously failed in its attempts to investigate U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), the division in charge of Jade Helm, and the Intercept’s Ryan Gallagher suggested, “very little is known about the scope and purpose of [SOCOM operations], given the extreme secrecy that often shrouds them.”

“Whom does this exercise serve: the American public? Special Forces soldiers training for some current or future mission? Defense contractors peddling new weapons for wars that are increasingly being fought by remote control?” asked Justin Peters in Slate on Monday.

He continued:

“SOCOM surely wasn’t going to volunteer this information before the Jade Helmers began complaining, and while it still might not, there is at the very least more public attention now being paid to this organization, and that’s a good thing.”

The Pentagon thinks you’re a ‘potential terrorist’

The military won’t be taking over the Southwest in July, but the Pentagon’s plans to respond to civil unrest with military tactics are real, as national security scholar and investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed revealed last year in a report for The Guardian.

In 2008, the Department of Defense first funded the “Minerva Research Initiative,” an effort that continues today. Minerva’s efforts included examining “social contagions” in order to understand how protest movements grow, with researchers studying Twitter posts by participants in the Arab Spring and other revolutionary movements.

Ahmed criticized the work funded by Minerva for failing to differentiate between constitutionally-protected protest and armed insurrection, citing a recent project that “conflates peaceful activists with ‘supporters of political violence’ who are different from terrorists only in that they do not embark on ‘armed militancy’ themselves. The project explicitly sets out to study non-violent activists.”

The idea that this research might be linked to exercises like Jade Helm 15 or used against domestic groups is not unrealistic, either. Ahmed interviewed David Price, a St. Martin’s University anthropologist, who cited examples of Pentagon exercises designed to quell protest and free speech. Ahmed reported: “One war-game, said Price, involved environmental activists protesting pollution from a coal-fired plant near Missouri, some of whom were members of the well-known environmental NGO Sierra Club.”

“Security agencies have no qualms about painting the rest of us as potential terrorists,” concluded Ahmed, underscoring that it’s only through the outcry of journalists and regular citizens that we can protect our essential freedoms from military control.

Dane County, District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced Tuesday afternoon that he would not bring criminal charges against the Madison, Wisconsin, police officer who shot and killed unarmed 19-year-old Tony Robinson, Jr. on March 6 of this year: here.