Conspiracy theories over Jade Helm training exercise get some traction in Texas

The eight-week exercise starting in July and planned for locations in Texas, New Mexico, California and other Southwestern states, they say, is part of a secret plan to impose martial law, take away people’s guns, arrest political undesirables, launch an Obama-led hostile takeover of red-state Texas, or do some combination thereof.

But when Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive to the Texas State Guard to keep watch over the military operation, seeming to give those concerns some official credence, it raised a more credible question: To what degree has the extreme become mainstream in Texas?…

“I have been an eyewitness to the sort of radicalization of Republican primary politics in Texas, but this was just a shocking extension of this fanaticism,” Todd A. Smith, a Republican lawyer and former state legislator, said in an interview. In a letter to the governor’s office, he criticized Mr. Abbott for “pandering to idiots.”

In the interview, Mr. Smith added, “I was really shocked to read that a governor was issuing press releases employing the Texas State Guard at taxpayer expense to protect us from the U.S. military, and that he felt like that was either something that was important from a policy perspective or necessary from a political perspective. Either one is unbelievable to me.”