Once upon a time, there was a nation of people who believed everything they were told by their government.

When terrorists attacked the country, and government officials claimed to have been caught by surprise, the people believed them. And when the government passed massive laws aimed at locking down the nation and opening the door to total government surveillance, the people believed it was done merely to keep them safe. The few who disagreed were labeled traitors.

When the government waged costly preemptive wars on foreign countries, insisting it was necessary to protect the nation, the citizens believed it. And when the government brought the weapons and tactics of war home to use against the populace, claiming it was just a way to recycle old equipment, the people believed that too. The few who disagreed were labeled unpatriotic.

When the government spied on its own citizens, claiming they were looking for terrorists hiding among them, the people believed it. And when the government began tracking the citizenry's movements, monitoring their spending, snooping on their social media, and surveying their habits—supposedly in an effort to make their lives more efficient—the people believed that, too. The few who disagreed were labeled paranoid.

When the government let private companies take over the prison industry and agreed to keep the jails full, justifying it as a cost-saving measure, the people believed them. And when the government started arresting and jailing people for minor infractions, claiming the only way to keep communities safe was to be tough on crime, the people believed that too. The few who disagreed were labeled soft on crime.

When the government hired crisis actors to take part in disaster drills, never alerting the public to which "disasters" were staged, the people genuinely believed they were under attack. And when the government insisted it needed greater powers to prevent such attacks from happening again, the people believed that too. The few who disagreed were told to shut up or leave the country.

Finally, the government started carrying out covert military drills around the country, insisting they were necessary to train the troops for foreign combat, and most of the people believed them. The few who disagreed, warning that perhaps all was not what it seemed, were dismissed as conspiracy theorists and quacks.

By the time the government locked down the nation, using local police and the military to impose martial law, there was no one left in doubt of the government's true motives—total control and domination—but there was also no one left to fight back.

Now every fable has a moral, and the moral of this story is to beware of anyone who urges you to ignore your better instincts and trust the government.

In other words, if it looks like trouble and it smells like trouble, you can bet there's trouble afoot.

For instance, while there is certainly no shortage of foul-smelling government activities taking place right now, the one giving off the greatest stench is Jade Helm 15. This covert, multi-agency, multi-state, eight-week military training exercise is set to take place from July 15 through Sept. 15 in states across the American Southwest.

According to official government sources, "Jade Helm: Mastering the Human Domain" is a planned military exercise that will test and practice unconventional warfare including, but not limited to, guerrilla warfare, subversion, sabotage, intelligence activities, and unconventional assisted recovery. The training exercise will take place in seven different southwestern states: California, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Nevada.

The military map listing the locations that will host the exercise shows Texas, Utah, and the southern part of California as "hostile territory." According to U.S. officials, these three areas are marked as hostile to simulate environments where American troops are viewed as the enemy. The other areas on the map are marked as permissive, uncertain (leaning friendly), or uncertain (leaning hostile).

Now the mainstream media has happily regurgitated the government's official explanation about Jade Helm. However, there is a growing concern among those who are not overly worried about being labeled conspiratorialists or paranoid that the government is using Jade Helm as a cover to institute martial law, bring about total population control, or carry out greater surveillance on the citizenry.

In the first camp are those who fear that Jade Helm will usher in martial law. These individuals believe that the military plans to infiltrate the states with large numbers of gun owners and attempt to disarm them.

A second camp fears that the military exercises are merely a means to an end—namely total population control—by allowing the military to discern between friendly civilians and hostiles. This concern is reinforced by military documents stating that a major portion of Jade Helm training will be about blending in with civilians, understanding how to work with civilians, using these civilians to find enemy combatants, and then neutralizing the target.

Finally, there is the third camp which fears that Jade Helm is merely the first of many exercises to be incorporated into regular American life so that the government can watch, study, and better understand how to control the masses. Certainly, psychological control techniques could be used in the future to halt protests and ensure that the nation runs "smoothly."

It remains to be seen whether Jade Helm 15 proves to be a thinly veiled military plot to take over the country (one lifted straight out of director John Frankenheimer's 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May), turn the population into automatons and psychological experiments, or is merely a "routine" exercise for troops, albeit a blatantly intimidating flexing of the military's muscles.

However, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the problem arises when you add Jade Helm to the list of other troubling developments that have taken place over the past 30 years or more: the expansion of the military industrial complex and its influence in Washington DC, the rampant surveillance, the militarized police, the privatized prisons, the school lockdowns, the roadside strip searches, the military drills on domestic soil, the fusion centers and the simultaneous fusing of every branch of law enforcement (federal, state and local), the stockpiling of ammunition by various government agencies, the active shooter drills that are indistinguishable from actual crises, etc.

Suddenly, the overall picture seems that much more sinister.

Call me paranoid, but I think we'd better take James Madison's advice and "take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties."

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