Martial Law, leaked reports, denials and reversals
by MATTHEW GAULT
During Barack Obama’s presidency, conspiracy theorists loved say he would soon declare martial law. Wing nuts speculated Obama would use anti-Trump protests as an excuse to march the U.S. military into the streets. According to the wild theories, he’d use the coming riots to cling to power should The Donald win. Some even warned that shadowy brokers would pay professional rioters.
It didn’t happen.
Even more ridiculous was the Jade Helm 15 madness that swept through the country in the Summer of 2015. As part of an elaborate and routine military exercise, Special Operations Forces spread out across remote parts of Texas to train. According to the conspiracies, this was all an elaborate cover for martial law.
Believers pointed to abandoned Wal Marts along state highways that would serve as FEMA camps. Fevered internet trolls posted picture after picture of nondescript military vehicles cruising along Texas highways. Beige humvees were the new black helicopters.
And nothing happened. Jade Helm 15 passed without incident. Now, thanks to reporting from the Associated Press and Vox as well as a leaked memo from the White House, we know that Trump’s team toyed with the stuff conspiracy theories are made of. Trump’s DHS briefly considered using the military as a civilian police force.
That’s right, in under a month The Donald actually considered a plot millions have associated with Obama over the past eight years.
In the early hours of Friday morning, The Associated Press tweeted out that it had learned Trump was considering the mobilization of 10,000 National Guard troops to enforce immigration policy. The fear was that Trump would send America’s military into the cities to round up people for mass deportation.
Hours later, both Vox and AP released their stories about the National Guard idea, along with an 11 page memo dated Jan. 25 that outlined the plan. Check out the pertinent portion:
“I am directing the Commissioner of CBP and the Director of ICE to immediately engage with the Governors of the States adjacent to the land border with Mexico and to those states adjoining such border States for the purpose of entering into agreements of section 287(g) of the INA to authorize qualified members of the state National Guard, while such members are not in federal service, or qualified members of a state militia or state defense force under the command of the Governor, to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the apprehension, investigation and detention of aliens in the United States.”
In short, Trump’s alleged memo would empower individual governors from states bordering Mexico to use the National Guard to enforce immigration policy. Even if the victims of force aren’t technically citizens, that’s martial law
Press-secretary-in-name-only Sean Spicer denied that the White House had written the memo and yelled at the AP for not seeking comment before releasing the story. The AP insisted it had repeatedly asked for comment and been ignored. The Department of Homeland Security embarrassed Spicer by admitting it had, in fact, kicked the idea around the office. Though they claim it was never seriously considered.
The claim doesn’t hold water. The act of writing up the memo proves someone considered martial law and took it seriously. The fact that someone leaked it to the press means either A — that the administration wanted to gauge public reaction or B — that a White House staffer feared its contents and wanted people to know. Neither is an attractive option.
For eight years, conspiracy theorists and right wing radio warned America that Obama was coming for our guns. They told us that martial law was around the corner and that the man in the White House was a wannabe dictator intent on destroying the American way of life. We lived on a knife’s edge, they claimed, one step away from troops in the streets and people in FEMA camps.
And it never happened. Not even close. Now, barely a month into the Trump presidency and The Donald has already floated the idea of using martial law to enforce mass deportation. I hope the conspiracy theorists are paying attention. Their greatest fears may soon be reality.
Over at Reddit’s ever popular Trump feeding frenzy, /r/The_Donald, fans see the leaked memo as further proof of the President’s genius. The current theory on the popular message board is that Trump’s team floated the memo around the office to see who’d pick it up and leak it to the press.
Their view ascribes a level of sophistication and intelligence to the current administration which doesn’t exist. Trump isn’t playing 4D chess, he’s meandering through a slow game of checkers, bored out of his mind.
Stay defiant and remember which president actually considered using troops on American soil to enforce policy.
Writing is hard. Money is short. Support this reporter. Follow Defiant on Facebook and Twitter.