Ted Cruz: Jade Helm Outcry Is 'Natural Consequence of Untrustworthy Fed Gov't'
Doug McKelway reported on "Special Report" about a large-scale domestic military exercise that is sparking a lot of concern among Texans.
“Jade Helm 15" is scheduled to take place this summer in seven Western states, including Texas.
It involves training exercises on private and public land – while such exercises are hardly unique, even the military acknowledges the “size and scope” of this one sets it apart.
While the White House and Pentagon are downplaying concerns, this hasn’t stopped a barrage of blogs and tweets warning about whether the federal government is preparing for “martial law.” Even actor Chuck Norris is keeping his “eyes of a ranger” on the situation.
Western-state officials are now caught between a desire to calm their residents – and yet not appear to stoke any conspiracy theories.
Some websites have jumped on the fact that the military said soldiers would practice operating in "hostile" territory during "Jade Helm."
Officials have downplayed the language though, saying that was a "fictional" reference, not an attempt to label parts of the country as "hostile."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said his office has reached out to the Pentagon about the exercise and he has no reason to doubt what the Pentagon is saying.
"I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty because the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration. The natural consequence is that many of the citizens don't trust what it's saying," said Cruz.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the Pentagon has provided the information that was requested and is "open and up front about our training activities."
Still, Texas lawmakers have been inundated with conspiracy theories from local residents.
At one town hall meeting, a man expressed skepticism when he was assured that the exercise "is not a preparation for martial law" in the United States.
"You may have issues with the administration. So be it. But this institution right here [the U.S. Army] has been with you for over 240 years. Period," Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, of Special Operations Command, told the town hall meeting.
Lastoria said all the Special Operations Command wants to do is make sure soldiers are properly trained for combat overseas.
But one man in the crowd responded that he didn't believe a word Lastoria had said, while another questioned why these military forces can't instead defend the southern border.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) already has asked the State Guard to monitor the training exercises. Abbott was criticized by other Texas lawmakers, who accused him of "pandering" to conspiracy theorists by taking that action.
He said Thursday in Washington that he's trying to "facilitate communication" and make people feel comfortable and informed about what's going on.
The All-Star Panel, Jonah Goldberg, Mara Liasson and Steve Hayes, weighed in on the story. Watch McKelway's report above and the panel's thoughts below.