Speed Reads


Russia goaded Texas governor into acting on right-wing conspiracy, teeing up 2016 meddling, ex-CIA director says

In 2015, the U.S. military held training exercises, called Jade Helm 15, in Texas and several other states — and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called up the Texas State Guard to monitor the U.S. military so "Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights, and civil liberties will not be infringed." On Wednesday, former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden told the Morning Joe podcast that Abbott was goaded into action by Moscow.

Russia "took their game to North America in 2015, and I won't belabor it here but there was an exercise in Texas called Jade Helm 15 that Russian bots and the American alt-right media convinced most — many — Texans was an Obama plan to round up political dissidents," Hayden said. "It got so much traction that the governor of Texas had to call out the National Guard to observe the federal exercise to keep the population calm. At that point, I'm figuring the Russians are saying 'We can go big time,' and at that point I think they made the decision, 'We're going to play in the electoral process.'"

"For anyone with at least one foot planted in reality, it was clear that Jade Helm 15 wasn't actually an Obama-orchestrated Trojan Horse meant to implement martial law in Texas, take away all the guns, and lock up political dissidents in abandoned Walmarts," said Justin Miller at The Texas Observer. But "if Hayden's report is right, then the governor of Texas was fooled into siccing the Texas State Guard on U.S. troops by Russia. ... Conspiracy theorists like Austin's Alex Jones and alt-right outlets like Breitbart certainly fueled the hysteria, but it jumped from the fringes to the mainstream when Texas Republican politicians started publicly entertaining the idea that Jade Helm had ulterior motives."

"Another Jade Helm–style exercise is planned for San Angelo in June," Miller adds. "Oddly enough, now that Trump is president, there's a notable lack of freaking out this time."