When the Army begins two months of training exercises called Jade Helm 15 tomorrow across the U.S. Southwest, some in the far right will recycle warnings that martial law is at hand. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to “continuously monitor” Jade Helm to reassure Texans that “their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.” The New York Times says the situation brings to mind the 51-day Branch Davidian siege of 1993 near Waco, Tx., when four agents and a half dozen member of the sect were killed. After that, federal agents began to use more patience with defiant militant groups.
In Nevada last year, federal Bureau of Land Management agents tactically retreated rather than get into a shooting war with rifle-toting supporters of Cliven Bundy, a rancher given to racist rants who owed the government more than $1 million in grazing fees amassed over two decades. Another “Waco can happen at any given time,” said Mike Vanderboegh, a prominent figure in the Patriot movement. He added ominously: “But the outcome will be different this time. Of that I can assure you.” The current number of Patriot groups has been estimated at 874 by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In a survey last year for the Police Executive Research Forum, law enforcement agencies expressed far more concern about threats from right-wing extremists than from Islamic fanatics. The New America Foundation says that since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people in the U.S. have been killed by non-Muslim extremists than by self-proclaimed jihadists.