Pentagon dismisses conspiracies about Texas exercises08 may 2015, 17:28
The Pentagon on Thursday dismissed conspiracy theories about planned army exercises in Texas, saying there was no plot for a US military takeover of the state as some right-wing bloggers have alleged, AFP reports.
Faced with more than one question about the routine exercises at a press conference, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sought to defuse a flurry of rumors circulating about the drills.
Asked if the US military was planning to "overtake" Texas, Carter chuckled and said: "No."
"We are very responsive to any local officials who want to know about our training. We are very transparent, we've tried to be very transparent in this case and answer all questions," he said, adding the Pentagon was grateful for the hospitality offered by local officials.
Ever since the US Army's Special Operations Command announced the "Jade Helm 15" exercise in March, paranoid theories have taken off and gained momentum in the state.
Some commentators alleged the military was planning to impose martial law, or that President Barack Obama's administration was plotting to take away people's guns.
The state's governor, Greg Abbott, gave more fuel to the rumors when he directed the Texas State Guard to monitor the exercise, saying it was important for residents to know that their constitutional and private property rights "will not be infringed."
Hollywood action movie star Chuck Norris, known for his outspoken conservative views, also gave credence to the conspiracy notions in a recent commentary.
Even presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz weighed in, saying it was understandable there were concerns about the exercises because the federal government has been "disrespecting" the rights of its citizens for the past six years.
The discussion has become fodder for satire, with television comedian Jon Stewart telling Texans that it was "adorable that your governor thinks your State Guard could take on the United States military."
Titling his report "Fear and Absent Danger," Stewart noted that similar exercises in past years generated no controversy before Obama entered the White House in 2009.
The military drill is taking place in remote locations in Texas over several weeks and is supposed to "refine the skills of our special operations forces," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said.
Warren acknowledged there have been "some strange Internet conspiracy theories that have kind of kicked up over the last several weeks."