White House officials on Wednesday brushed off Gov. Greg Abbott’s concerns that an eight-week federal training exercise could infringe on Texans’ rights.
Abbott announced Tuesday that he has directed the Texas State Guard to monitor Operation Jade Helm 15 — a military exercise that will bring about 1,200 troops to Texas between July and September to simulate special operations in “hostile” territory.
When asked about Abbott’s actions Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that “in no way will the constitutional rights or civil liberties of any American citizen be infringed upon while this exercise is being conducted.”
Abbott said in a letter this week that he is dispatching the state Guard because “it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.”
Having the Guard monitor the exercises will let Texans “be informed of the details of military personnel movements and training exercise schedules and it will give us the ability to quickly and effectively communicate with local communities, law enforcement, public safety personnel and citizens.”
“I have no idea what he’s thinking,” Earnest said. “The civil liberties and constitutional rights of American citizens will be in no way affected by this exercise.”
The operation will bring top-tier military personnel — from the Navy SEALs to the Green Berets — to Texas for training exercises. But some Texans worry about a federal occupation, likely because the fictitious battlefield for the exercise labeled this state “hostile” territory.
When Earnest was asked Wednesday whether Abbott’s move was a result of “paranoia,” he did not answer directly but did say that the service members won’t be incognito. They’ll wear armbands.
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610