Sunday, August 31, 2014

How Texas Gov. Rick Perry is Recruiting for Armed and Unregulated Militias

by Nomad

After an close call at the Texas border between Border Patrol guards and armed militias, isn't time we should start asking who is in charge? When it comes to leadership, Governor Rick Perry has been an excellent recruiter for armed and dangerous vigilante groups.

The Brownsville Incident
"Land's sakes, that's a good way to get your head blown off!" That's what somebody should have warned one lucky militia member with more bullets than brain matter.

According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, a US Border Patrol agent near Brownsville Texas mistook a member of an armed militia for an illegal intruder on Friday.
It was apparently a close call.    
Omar Zamora, a spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday that the agent was chasing several suspects through an area of thick brush near the Rio Grande on Friday afternoon when he came upon a militia member holding a shotgun or rifle.
After the patrol agent fired several rounds, the militia member, reportedly, threw down his weapon immediately (no doubt wetting himself about that time). Fortunately nobody on either side was injured. 
Somebody nearly learned the limits of his Second Amendment rights the hard way.

The identity of the man was not released to the public and it isn't clear whether the Cameron County Sheriff will press criminal charges.  
Zamora did not identify the patrol agent and said it was not clear what organization the militia member belonged to. He was standing on private property at the time of the incident.
Clearly  it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. And the next time state and federal border patrol encounter armed groups, things could easily be tragic.

Border Vigilantes On Call
Indeed, there were unheeded warnings.
Last July, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  declared that the agency does not "endorse or support any private group or organization from taking matters into their own hands as it could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences."

According to a Houston Chronicle article, armed militia groups along the Texas border have grown to more than 10 active "teams" from El Paso to the Rio Grande Valley,
These groups which included Oathkeepers, Three Percenters and Patriots, began organizing and recruiting as the hysteria began over the influx of immigrant children crossing the border.
Other groups may include
  • Bolinas Border Patrol, 
  • Central Valley Militia,
  • Independent Citizens Militia, 
  • Alpha Team, 
  • Bravo Team, 
  • FOB Harmony, 
  • Operation Secure Our Border: 
  • Laredo Sector, 
  • O'Shanessy's Team, 
  • the 77's and 
  • Camp Geronimo
Clearly this is a problem Governor Rick Perry has not addressed. (Perhaps he is afraid to cross them?)

Barbie Rogers is the founder of the Patriots Information Hotline which has been instrumental in organizing  and finding new members for the militias. According to Rogers, many of the groups are stationed on ranch land with permission from the owners.  

She has called upon the Governor to send even more Texas National guard personnel to defend the border. She also says to Rick Perry that "if cost is an issue" to "call the militia. They will come if you call them."
As one militia leader said:
“We have patriots all across this country who are willing to sacrifice their time, money even quit their jobs to come down and fight for freedom, liberty and national sovereignty.”
Whether Perry knows it or not, he has already called up the armed gangs.

How Rick Perry Recruited for Militias
In July, State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio stated that she adamantly opposed the presence of such groups. In a statement, Van de Putte, who is running against state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, for lieutenant governor, said:
"Local law enforcement and federal border patrol agents have been clear. The presence of these outside independent militia groups does nothing to secure the border; it only creates an unsafe situation for law enforcement officials that are protecting our communities. Unfortunately, the vile rhetoric of my opponent inspires misguided efforts."
In a statement, the Texas Democratic Party called on Patrick and Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, to denounce the "armed vigilantes."
But to date there has been silence.

The situation was not helped at all when Governor Rick Perry and Fox News reporter Sean Hannity posted photos of themselves decked out in military-style clothes standing beside heavy arms.

The photos sparked a wave of internet acidic comments mocking Perry and Hannity as pretend tough guys looking for a photo op. For example,
Hannity tweeted out photos showing himself with the governor, with weapons and enough ammunition to shoot plenty of kids who dare to step across the border and cross into the United States.
How many new militia recruits this macho posturing from Perry and Hannity is hard to know. 
Certainly the stunt was unhelpful to say the least.
The source adds:
Naturally, America already has Border Patrol agents who are fully trained and capable of rounding up the kids and making sure U.S. laws are obeyed when the children cross the border.
Here's a CNN interview from about a month ago, in which Governor Perry is intentionally vague about who will and who will not be protecting the borders. After naming a series of official agencies, (including  the Department of Public Safety and the Department of the Parks and Wildlife) he adds
"There will be other individuals who will come to assist in securing that border."

You can draw your own conclusions. But keep in mind, how people who might be considering joining a militia group might interpret Perry's ambiguous remarks.

Breitbart and the Muslim Rug
When it came to the border defenses, the hysteria from the right wing media has been pretty much non-stop.
For example, writers from the less-than-accurate Breitbart News recently attempted to exaggerate the potential threat of Middle Eastern terrorist infiltration from America's southern border.  
No one is denying this possible threat but it isn't any more real than it was when Al-Qaeda was in full bloom during the Bush era. However, Breitbart added nothing to the discussion (except unreasoned panic) when it reported that a security contractor had found a "Muslim prayer rug" on the Arizona border.

The item was found in a area that, the contractor called "a prime crossing from Yucca Springs over to Copper Canyon." 
The article quotes the unidentified witness:
“That’s when I saw this thing laying around. And I was like, ‘What the hell is that?’ We walked over there and I didn’t really want to pull at it not knowing what was on it. I poked a bit at it with a stick and noticed some of the Arabic writing and was just like, ‘Oh boy.’ I snapped a couple of photos and then went on our patrol.”
Interestingly there was no discernible Arabic script shown in the photo. If the item was of such importance, one would think that instead of poking it with a stick like a dead varmint, he might have attempted to process the evidence to show to an expert.

The story was, of course, wall-to-wall nonsense since practically everybody wants to come to the US, even Muslims. And all Muslims are not terrorists. A prayer rug isn't necessarily identifiable as such. Any rug could be a Muslim prayer rug as long as it is about a meter in length. Your grannie's throw-rug in the hall would do in a pinch.

So how the contractor determined conclusively it belonged to a Muslim is something any reputable news organization might have been curious about. In the end, using photos taken by the contractor, it was determined that the suspicious rug was in fact an Adidas soccer jersey

Even though it turned out to be a big laugh at Breitbart's expense, the reporters never bothered to follow up the story with a suitable correction for their readers.  

The Invasion that Never Was
Back in Texas, it can sometimes seem like the this kind of insanity is as unlimited as black gold. And. like petroleum,  the Texas production of the nonsense probably hasn't peaked. 

Every little bit of the hysteria propagated by people like Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert pushes gung-ho types into the arms of militia group leaders. Gohmert, you might recall, made a name for himself by claiming that pregnant terrorist women were crossing the Texas border to deposit their babies (like IEDs in diapers).

The reason?
So that the demon spawn could grow up to be suicide bombers a couple of decades later. Like most of Gohmert's improbable obsessions, it's too crazy to dispute.

However, as preposterous as they might sound to most of us, these ideas take root in some unloaded minds.
In July, on Fox News, Gohmert pushed his rhetoric even closer to the edge of sedition by claiming that when it came to the border, the President of the United States, the Commander in Chief, could not and should not be trusted. 

It plays right into the mentality that the only salvation for the country is the brave militia patriots who follow a higher law. And more dangerously it plays into that the federal government is the enemy. 

Similarly, Governor Perry asserted that ISIS terrorists were about to sneak across the Texas border and it was all thanks to "the Obama administration’s failures in Iraq and in securing the border." 

Much to the Texas governor's chagrin, both unhappy Mexican officials and representatives with the Pentagon threw an ice bucket on the baseless allegations.
“I’ve seen no indication that they are coming across the border with Mexico. We have no information that leads us to believe that. That said, we do know they have aspirations to hit western targets and it’s something, as [Defense] Secretary Hagel said yesterday, that we’ve got to take seriously and with have to try to be ready for it.”
Officials in Mexico were equally doubtful about Perry's claims. Ariel Moutsatsos, minister for public affairs at the embassy in Washington responded to the allegations like this:
“Mexican authorities have no record of the presence of Islamist extremist groups or individuals in Mexico..We take all possible measures to impede any terrorist activity in our territory.”
But even if it were true that Islamic terrorists were crossing the border, how an untrained militia member could determine who is friend or foes is hard to imagine. They apparently are unable to identity an Adidas sweatshirt without an expert

They are much more likely to accidentally shoot an unarmed American camper, or a Border Patrol agent doing his duty or one of their own.  
*   *   *
The Perry-Hannity photo-op, the governor's specious claims and the Breitbart News all served to create an overreaction, akin to hysterical panic. They also foster the idea that the only solution would be for armed civilians to take matters into their own hands.   
Has Governor Perry attempted, for example, to train Texas civilians how to look for and report suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities before taking the law into their own hands? 

After all, according to Perry, the federal government is doing nothing. His kind of irresponsible claim-making doesn't do anything for national security. For Rick Perry, Louie Gohmert and many others, stoking fears like this gets them the national attention they seem to crave more than the air they breathe. 

Whether they are are aware of it or not, it is precisely that fear and that helplessness that provides a perfect recruitment pitch for armed vigilante militias. 

Update: Sept 5, 2014
Talking Points Memo has some important information to add to the story above.
The armed militia member who was shot at by a border patrol agent last week is a convicted felon.
Rio Grande Valley TV station KRGV reported Wednesday that records show the man, John Frederick Forester, has misdemeanor convictions for theft and trespassing and a felony conviction for burglary.

Forester was violating federal statutes, then, when a border patrol agent who was chasing a group of immigrants last Friday in Brownsville, Texas spotted him holding a gun.
This is another reason why Perry's encouragement of unregulated civilian militia  was a lousy idea. And a dangerous one.