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Posts tagged ‘Texas Governor Greg Abbott’

Texas Suing Federal Government to Block Syrian Refugee Settlement


waving flag

Written by    Thursday, 03 December 2015

URL of the original posting site: http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/immigration/item/22076-texas-suing-federal-government-to-block-syrian-refugee-settlement

Texas Suing Federal Government to Block Syrian Refugee SettlementThe Texas Health and Human Services Commission filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in Dallas on December 2 asking for an immediate restraining order and a hearing by December 9 to petition for an injunction that would prevent resettlement of Syrian refugees within Texas.

The suit, filed by state Attorney General Ken Paxton, names U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. State Department, the International Rescue Committee, and others as defendants, charging that they are violating federal law by moving forward with the planned resettlement of two Syrian families. The suit accuses the defendants of violating their “statutory duty” to consult with the state in advance of placing refugees in Texas.

Reuters quoted Paxton’s statement: “The point of this lawsuit is not about specific refugees, it is about protecting Texans by ensuring that the federal government fulfills its obligation to properly vet the refugees and cooperate and consult with the state.”Do you want

A report in the Texas Tribune noted that the lawsuit alleges that federal officials violated the Refugee Act of 1980, which requires that the federal government “shall consult regularly” with the state regarding the placement of refugees. Texas also asserts that the International Rescue Committee violated a separate provision of the act requiring that the nonprofit work “in close cooperation and advance consultation” with the state.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is an NGO whose mission is to offer emergency aid and long-term assistance to refugees and those displaced by war, persecution, or natural disaster. It has its origins in the International Relief Association (IRA), founded in 1931 in Germany by two left-wing factions, the Communist Party Opposition (KPO) and the Socialist Workers Party (SAP).

The IRC released the following statement about its refugee resettlement programs in Texas:

Refugees are victims of terror, not terrorists, and the families we help have always been welcomed by the people of Texas. The IRC acts within the spirit and letter of the law, and we are hopeful that this matter is resolved soon.

Three days after the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and five other governors joined Rick Snyder of Michigan and Robert Bentley of Alabama, both of whom had issued statements on November 15 declaring that their states would not be open to the Syrian refugees the Obama administration plans on “resettling” in the United States.Do you want

Abbott, the governor of the nation’s second largest state in both area and population, sent an open letter to President Obama that stated, in part:

As governor of Texas, I write to inform you that the State of Texas will not accept any refugees from Syria in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack in Paris.

Further, I — and millions of Americans — implore you to halt your plans to accept more Syrian refugees in the United States. A Syrian “refugee” appears to have been part of the Paris terror attack. American humanitarian compassion could be exploited to expose Americans to similar deadly danger. The reasons for such concerns are plentiful.

The FBI director testified to Congress that the federal government does not have the background information that is necessary to effectively conduct proper security checks on Syrian nationals, Director Comey explained: “We can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them.”ATTA BOY

Governor Abbott stated that, effective November 16, he is directing the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas.

More governors joined Abbott, Snyder, Bentley, and the others, and by November 17, they numbered 30. The states so proclaiming include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Some defenders of the federal government’s power to resettle refugees among the states despite the states’ opposition have denied that the states have the right to refuse. Among these is Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas. “The bottom line is, refugee admission is a federal matter, reflecting our values as a nation,” said Burke. “Texas and other states don’t have veto power in this area.”Bull

Most strict constitutionalists would disagree with Burke’s opinion and maintain that the states have “veto power” (technically called the power of nullification) not only in this area, but in any area where the federal government attempts to usurp authority vis-à-vis the states that is not specifically granted to it by the Constitution.

In an article on the subject posted by The New American on November 30, constitutional attorney and contributor Joe Wolverton explored the arguments concerning whether state governors have the right to refuse entry into their states of refugees fleeing Syria.

The first point that Wolverton addressed was the assertion made by those claiming that federal authority supercedes the rights of the states on the matter — citing the “supremacy clause” of Article VI of the Constitution. He reminds readers that the Supremacy Clause does not declare that all laws passed by the federal government are the supreme law of the land, but only “laws of the United States made in pursuance” of the Constitution.

In other words: in pursuance thereof, not in violation thereof.

To prove this point, Wolverton quotes Alexander Hamilton’s language found in The Federalist, No. 33:

If a number of political societies enter into a larger political society, the laws which the latter may enact, pursuant to the powers intrusted [sic] to it by its constitution, must necessarily be supreme over those societies and the individuals of whom they are composed…. But it will not follow from this doctrine that acts of the larger society which are not pursuant  to its constitutional powers, but which are invasions of the residuary authorities of the smaller societies, will become the supreme law of the land. These will be merely acts of usurpation, and will deserve to be treated as such. [Emphasis in original.]

Wolverton notes that the Constitution has little to say about immigration (although Article I, Section 8 empowers Congress to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.”) However, naturalization is not the same as immigration, since (he writes): “Immigration is the act of coming to a country of which one is not a native. Naturalization, however, is defined as the conference upon an alien of the rights and privileges of a citizen.”

In a rare statement on which branch of government has the power to regulate immigration, noted Wolverton, President Ulysses S. Grant wrote in a memo to the House of Representatives: “Responsibility over immigration can only belong with the States since this is where the Constitution kept the power.” 

As Wolverton concludes his article:

With respect to the difficult and potentially dangerous position in which [Arizona] Governor Ducey and the other 30 or so state executives find themselves, one wonders where in the Constitution states are required to ask the federal government’s permission to exercise a power they specifically retain under the Bill of Rights, namely the power to grant or refuse permission for entry into their sovereign territory to an immigrant, no matter what label that immigrant is given by the federal government.

The 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.”

Since the power to regulate immigration is not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, then it must, as Grant wrote, belong to the states.

The right of states to nullify unconstitutional usurpations of power by the federal government is well documented in the writings of the Founding Fathers. As just one example, Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1798 in his Resolutions Relative to the Alien and Sedition Acts:

… Where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non foederis,) to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them.

The states have firm grounding upon which to assert their authority to determine which aliens may or may not be admitted into them, but their current methodology may not be the strongest weapon they have. Lawsuits filed in federal courts are apt to be decided against them by federal judges. However, by exercising the concept of nullification, the federal government could not so easily dismiss their resistance, without triggering a constitutional crisis.

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Texas Governor Calls for Statewide ‘Stand with Law Enforcement’


waving flagby Bob Price and Lana Shadwick 2 Sep 2015

Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for police officers across the state of Texas to honor the funeral of slain Harris County Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth on Friday. The Governor asks that all police officers across the state “stand with law enforcement” by turning on their emergency lights for one-minute to mark the beginning of the deputy’s funeral being held in Houston.

“Respect and pride in our law enforcement must be restored in this state and nation,” said Governor Abbott in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “It is time to unite in solidarity to support the men and women who serve and protect our communities. I ask that communities across Texas support this cause for unity and remember the essential role that law enforcement plays in keeping Texas safe and strong.”

Abbott announced a procession of law enforcement patrol cars will gather at the north drive of the Texas Capitol on Friday morning as a show of unity.

The Governor’s statement calls for the following:

  • WHO: All Law Enforcement Officers
  • WHAT: Law Enforcement Patrol Cars Turn On Red And Blue Flashing Lights
  • WHEN: Friday, September 4th, 11:00AM CT

Civilian vehicles could also show a statement of support for Goforth’s family and all law enforcement officers by turning on their headlights and emergency flashers at the designated time.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick joined in Abbott’s call for honoring the fallen deputy. “I challenge all Texans to think about how underappreciated our officers must feel, how dangerous their jobs are, how they leave their families everyday not knowing if they are coming home and more importantly,” Patrick wrote in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, “if there is anything you can do to help make their job a little easier.”

The Lt. Governor suggested the following as a way for the public to show support for law enforcement:

  • Start calling our officers sir and ma’am all of the time. It’s a show of respect they deserve
  • Every time you see an officer anywhere, let them know you appreciate their service to our community and you stand with them
  • If you are financially able, when you see them in a restaurant on duty pick up their lunch check, send over a dessert, or simply stop by their table briefly and say thank you for their service
  • Put their charities on your giving list
  • If your local law enforcement has volunteer-citizen job opportunities, sign up

Patrick asked Texans to join him in prayer to support fallen law enforcement officers. He will be attending a special service at the First Baptist Church of Conroe Wednesday night at 5:15 p.m. The church is located at 600 North Main Street in Conroe.

This comes in the wake of Deputy Goforth’s brutal assassination, allegedly by a black man named Shannon Miles. The suspect is reported to have, for no other reason that Goforth was wearing a police uniform, fired fifteen rounds from a pistol into the head and back of the deputy.

Over 1,000 people turned out for an impromptu vigil Saturday night at the Chevron station where Goforth was murdered, as reported by Breitbart Texas.

The man accused of shooting Deputy Goforth, Shannon Miles, appeared in court in Houston on Monday morning surrounded by a dozen deputies, as reported by Breitbart Texas.  Miles has been charged with capital murder of a peace officer. The felony charge can include the death penalty.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said the suspect unloaded 15 rounds into the deputy.

Breitbart Texas has reported about the anti-peace officer rhetoric in Texas, and about graffiti images calling for violence against police have appeared on property around Houston, Texas. The emojis show a police officer with a gun pointed to his head.

Law enforcement officials have stated that this anti-police rhetoric must stop.

A Texas woman garnered an unexpected national spotlight on Tuesday after tweeting that a Harris County deputy deserved to be executed was arrested.  Monica Foy tweeted after Deputy Goforth’s death, “I can’t believe so many people care about a dead cop and NO ONE has thought to ask what he did to deserve it. He had creepy perv eyes…,” as reported by Breitbart Texas. Foy was arrested in her home county on an assault warrant out of Houston. The arrest stems from a 2011 incident where she allegedly punched a former co-worker in the face causing bodily injury.Never Argue Delusional

Breitbart Texas reported that funeral services for Deputy Darren Goforth has been set for Friday at 11:00 a.m. at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. The mega-church is the fifth largest in the country and can accommodate thousands of people.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate judge. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2

Bob Price is the associate editor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.

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Kansas Governor Brownback Issues Order Protecting Beliefs of Clergy About Same-Sex “Marriage”


waving flagWritten by  , Friday, 10 July 2015 

URL of the original posting site: http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/21236-kansas-gov-brownback-issues-order-protecting-beliefs-of-clergy-about-same-sex-marriage

Kansas Governor Brownback Issues Order Protecting Beliefs of Clergy About Same-Sex “Marriage”

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued an executive order on July 7 that prohibits the state government from taking any action against any individual clergy, religious leader, or religious organization that “acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.” The governor said his order protects “Kansas clergy and religious organizations from being forced to participate in activities that violate their sincerely and deeply held beliefs.”

Brownback issued the executive order, entitled “Preservation and Protection of Religious Freedom,” in response to last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, mandating recognition of same-sex “marriage” in all 50 states. In the order, he cited the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Section Seven of the Bill of Rights of the Kansas Constitution, and the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act (which he signed in 2013), all of which protect the religious liberty of Kansans. He quoted from the latter, which provides that state government shall not “substantially burden a person’s civil right to exercise of religion.”

Building on that legal foundation, Brown noted that “the recent imposition of same sex marriage by the United States Supreme Court poses potential infringements on the civil right of religious liberty” and that “government actions and laws that protect the free exercise of religious beliefs about marriage will encourage private citizens and institutions to demonstrate tolerance for those beliefs and convictions and therefore contribute to a more respectful, diverse, and peaceful society.”burke

Getting down to specifics, Brownback ordered:

The State Government shall not take any discriminatory action against any individual clergy or religious leader on the basis that such individual declines or will decline to perform, solemnize, or facilitate any marriage, based upon or consistent with the individual’s sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction

The four Catholic bishops in Kansas issued a joint statement urging state officials to make the enactment of new legal protections for those who are opposed in conscience to same-sex marriage a top priority in coming months. The bishops praised Brownback’s order and said in a statement: “Generations of Americans have taken freedom of conscience for granted. We, sadly, do not have that luxury anymore.”It HasNever Been About Marriage

Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently issued a similar memo to all agency heads in his state, granting state employees who object on moral grounds to same-sex marriage some protection against the ruling. Abbott’s memo stated: “All state agency heads should ensure that no one acting on behalf of their agency takes any adverse action against any person, as defined in Chapter 311 of the Texas Government Code, on account of the person’s act or refusal to act that is substantially motivated by sincere religious belief.”Big Gay Hate Machine

While orders such as Brownback’s and Abbott’s mitigate some of the most harmful effects of the Supreme Court’s overreaching decision on same-sex “marriage” — about which Justice Samuel Alito said in his dissent, “The Constitution leaves that question to be decided by the people of each State” — they fall far short of other remedies available to the states. One such remedy is nullification, a little-used technique in recent history, but a viable one nevertheless. As Joe Wolverton noted in a recent article for The New American on the prospect of states using nullification to resist the application of Obergefell v. Hodges within their borders:Leftist Giant called Tyranny

Nullification, whether through active acts passed by the legislatures or the simple refusal to obey unconstitutional directives, is the “rightful remedy” for the ill of federal usurpation of authority. Americans committed to the Constitution must walk the fences separating the federal and state governments and they must keep the former from crossing into the territory of the latter.

Wolverton cited no less an authority on the Constitution than Thomas Jefferson to support the legitimacy of nullification, quoting from the Founding Father’s statement in the Kentucky Resolutions:

That the several states who formed that instrument [the Constitution], being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and that a nullification, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under colour [sic] of that instrument, is the rightful remedy.

Though nullification is a valid, constitutional option, no state has thus far made an attempt to apply the principal to Obergefell v. Hodges. Granted, it has been only a few weeks since the decision was made, and such matters take time. However, that is all the more reason why serious discussions to consider that possibility should now be taking place.SCOTUS GIANT

One of the strongest statements suggesting nullification came from former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who said on Newsmax TV’s The Steve Malzberg Show shortly before the High Court handed down its decision that the states should ignore any Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. “A ruling by the Supreme Court is nothing but an opinion if the legislative branch and the executive branch do not enforce it,” said DeLay. “Not only that, if the states would just invoke the 10th Amendment and assert their sovereignty, they can defy a ruling by the Supreme Court. It’s in the Constitution. We can tell the court what cases they can hear.”

What DeLay described regarding telling the federal courts which cases they can hear is governed not by the 10th Amendment, which protects the sovereignty of the states, but by Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to make exceptions to and regulate the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Former Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) attempted to utilize this power when he introduced his We the People Act in 2004 and 2009. The bill, if it had passed, would have removed jurisdiction of federal courts from cases involving the establishment of religion, sexual orientation, abortion, and marriage.

Invoking such power made more practical sense when DeLay mentioned it prior to Obergefell v. Hodges being decided. Since the court has now ruled, it would be difficult to rescind its jurisdiction to decide on marriage cases retroactively. However it is not too late to use the other tool that DeLay recommended, the 10th Amendment, to which Justice Alito alluded when he said, “The Constitution leaves that question to be decided by the people of each State.”

If the decision should be decided by the states, then the states must declare that the power usurped by the Supreme Court in rendering that decision is null. Leftist Giant called Tyranny

Related articles:

Political Leaders Voice Discontent With Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

Catholic Leaders Vow to Stand Against Contraception Mandate, Same-sex Marriage

Texas AG: “Reach of Court’s Opinion Stops at the Door of the First Amendment”

Supreme Court Rubber Stamps Same-sex “Marriage” — Time for Nullification

Rome: Hundreds of Thousands Protest Against Same-sex Unions

Marriage Can’t Be Redefined

Sen. Lee and Rep. Labrador Propose Protection for Religious Liberty

Southern Baptist Leader: Prepare for Civil Disobedience Over Gay Marriage Ruling

As Gov. of Texas, Would Abbott Continue to Stand for States’ Rights?

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More straight dope on Jade Helm 2015 and the ‘Human Domain’


Coolest dudes on the planet, no matter whose pond they're wading in. (Image: U.S. Navy SEALs)
Coolest dudes on the planet, no matter whose pond they’re wading in. (Image: U.S. Navy SEALs)

Back in March, I wrote that Texas wasn’t being invaded in exercise Jade Helm 2015.  The exercise isn’t about confiscating guns, and it won’t involve violations of Posse Comitatus.

I’ve updated information as it has come along on the exercise: when Texas Governor Greg Abbott decided to have the Guard monitor it (which I support), and when it became clear that the exercise is to be spread geographically further across Texas than originally briefed (which bears watching).

Now it’s time to take on a theme that has taken off over the last month.  The Jade Helm exercise motto is “Master the Human Domain,” which has been a head-scratcher for many.  The expression “human domain” comes from a Department of Defense effort, dating from the mid-2000s, to codify and plan for the environment of human activity in which the military has to operate during non-traditional missions.

  • There are three things to say up front.  One, it does matter that this was chosen as the motto of the exercise.  It’s not just a cute slogan; it means the exercise is focused on “mastering the human domain.”
  • Two, almost all of the speculation I’ve seen out there on what “mastering the human domain” is about appears to be profoundly mistaken.  It’s not about eugenics, for example.  Nor do attempts to break down the words “Jade” and “Helm” as acronyms lead to anything validly connected to the DOD human domain effort.*
  • Three, the human domain aspect does illuminate some things for us, and it does suggest a particular area of concern, especially for an exercise series that is supposed to be held among the communities of the American people.

(If you’re already convinced about the DOD programmatic origins of the human domain concept – a number of websites have provided discussions of it – and if you understand that it is very much about information technology and intelligence, you can skip to the segments on “application to Jade Helm,” below.)

Notional geography for Exercise Jade Helm 2015.  (Army Special Operations Command briefing)

The “human domain”

The need for a “human domain” effort became clear as the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq unfolded.  Counterinsurgency, with its aspects of embeddedness and pervasive contact across all segments of society, just isn’t the same thing as the more conventional model of rolling in hot, blasting military targets to bits, and forcing a political settlement on a recognized authority in a capital city somewhere.

But information connectedness is also a key to understanding the idea of the human domain.  Modern insurgents and other disruptive elements make tremendous use of information technology (IT) – and that in turn means that DOD wants to find ways to use it even smarter than the bad guys do.  Instead of detection and intelligence systems being stovepiped and specialized, a modern military needs to move and breathe in a pulsating environment of smart data on the human domain, if it’s to be the most agile, fastest-moving actor in the conflict problem.  The smart data can cover everything from local social customs and economic activities to alerts gleaned from social media and the “meta-patterns” of cell phone use.

For obvious reasons, special forces – the ones whose disciplines are being exercised in Jade Helm 15 – find the human domain to be an especially big deal.  Because of the tasks they are assigned, the human domain is particularly likely to be relevant to their operations.  And the link between the human domain push in DOD, and the human domain motto of Jade Helm 15, has left a traceable paper trail.

When DOD issued the first strategic guidance for the “human domain” of warfare in 2010, the military services hopped on board with their individual program lines to do R&D and develop doctrine in their respective warfighting spheres.  Figure 1, from an Air Force presentation on human domain factors modeling, shows a snapshot of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps players from 2011.  The focus on irregular warfare is clear (although the effort still lacked programmatic specificity at that point.)

Figure 1.  Service programs to optimize operations in the human domain.  "HSCB" refers to Human Social, Cultural, Behavioral factors. (Graphic: Briefing by Dr. Mark T. Maybury, Chief Scientist, USAF. Link in text)

The broad extent of the human domain effort can be seen in figure 2, from the Defense Technical Information Center.  It depicts several years’ worth of related studies and projects contracted by DOD entities – both the DOD staff and the services – through a DOD program launched in 2008 called the Minerva Initiative.  The high-level interest in the human domain as a focus of warfighting was affirmed in a white paper from the Army, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Command in 2013.

Figure 2.  List of DOD Minerva initiative studies commissioned with universities, 2009-2016. Most related directly to human domain requirements. (Graphic: DTIC.  See link in text)

The thread we are most interested in is the one that runs through the Army, whose special forces command, USASOC (U.S. Army Special Operations Command), has been on point to the public for Jade Helm.  The Army was already on the trail of human domain warfighting at the time DOD adopted it as an official line of effort.  By 2007, the Army had cobbled together an Army Human Terrain System (official website here), which deployed Human Terrain Teams to try to operationalize insights from anthropology and related disciplines to improve operational methods and outcomes in Afghanistan.  The project has, admittedly, come in for intense criticism from multiple vectors (e.g., here, here, and here).

But Army doctrine authorities remain committed to human domain programming (i.e., training for it, developing systems for it, having doctrine for it).  And Army special operations forces are building their plan for the future force around it, as laid out in the ARSOF 2022 planning document.

In doing this, ARSOF planners draw their authority partly from the joint Special Operations Command (SOCOM), whose vision for a force in 2020 is cited on page 7 of the ARSOF 2022 document:

“SOCOM must not only continue to pursue terrorists wherever we may find them, we must rebalance the force and tenaciously embrace indirect operations in the Human Domain — the totality of the physical, cultural and social environments that influence human behavior in a population-centric conflict.” …

“While SOF is designed to contribute to or support efforts in every domain of warfare, the vast majority of SOF expertise lies in the Human Domain of competition, conflict and war. The Human Domain is about developing understanding of, and nurturing influence among critical populaces. Operating in the Human Domain is a core competency for SOF and we are uniquely suited for successful operations or campaigns to win population-centric conflicts.”

It would require too much space here to discuss all the elements taken into account in “population-centric conflicts.”  For further reading, I recommend a study updated for USASOC in 2013 called Human Factors Considerations of Undergrounds in Insurgencies.

The SOF emphasis on the human domain is significant because Jade Helm is a SOF exercise.  But it’s also significant because Jade Helm is designed to feature interoperation between special forces and conventional forces.  That point has been emphasized in the public briefs on the exercise, and Jade Helm makes so much of it because of a recent trend in thinking about such interoperability in the Department of Defense, both within the SOF community and at the higher levels of command that subsume all warfare communities.

See background links within the text of my March post on Jade Helm – but also see here: an Army War College paper from 2013 on “Interdependence between U.S. Army Special Operations Force and Conventional Forces.”  This paper has been broadly cited in community discussions of the needs and future of SOF, and it too places a significant emphasis on the human domain.

Unquestionably, the capstone SOF exercise of a generation – which is what Jade Helm 2015 is – will be about operating in the human domain.  The motto “Master the Human Domain” reflects that.

Application to Jade Helm: Cultural understanding

But what does that mean for the exercise this summer?  A lot of websites out there are trying to make this about population control of some kind (i.e., through deception, subversion, detention), up to and including a eugenics push.  (Just do a search on “Jade Helm” and “eugenics” and you’ll come right to the websites.) It is, however, nothing of the sort.

For one thing, nothing in the background material on the human domain effort can legitimately be read in that light.  The essential premise of the military’s human domain concept is quite clearly that populations and their cultures and routine activities take moral and political precedence over military tasks.  The military posture will be one of adapting – working within the constraints of local norms – and, if possible (as mission-appropriate), influencing and persuading.  Whether SOF or conventional forces, the U.S. military expects to operate frequently in an environment dictated by local human conditions – not to dictate those things to the local people.

The strategic utility of this mindset, and whether America ought to be sending forces out to operate in this way, are topics for another time.  (I don’t dispute that it’s legitimate to question using military force in this way.)  The point here is that mastering the human domain is predicated on it, and the exercise play in Jade Helm will be too.

This point underlies one of two key aspects of Jade Helm that we can extract from the emphasis on “mastering the human domain.”  I’ll address the second aspect in the segment below on “intelligence operations.”

Regarding the first aspect, which I refer to generally as “cultural understanding”: we know that Jade Helm is an unconventional warfare exercise, meaning that it’s about the irregular warfare discipline of supporting foreign insurgencies against hostile governments (again, see my March post).  There are two big clues as to what that means for the exercise.

One clue was embedded in the USASOC brief shopped around Texas in March and April.  Slide 7 of that brief explained why Texas was chosen for the live-play terrain:

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has conducted numerous exercises in Texas because Texans are historically supportive of efforts to prepare our soldiers, airmen, marines and sailors to fight the enemies of the United States.

The second bullet on that slide provides a good compilation of operating requirements that are common to SOF and all human domain warfighting:

To hone advanced skills, the military and interagency require large areas of undeveloped land with low population densities with access to towns.  The proposed areas offer the conditions conducive to quality training because of real obstacles to challenge joint and IA personnel during planning and execution of their tasks.  These challenges include:

– Operating outside the normal support mechanisms

– Adapting to unfamiliar terrain, social and economic conditions

– Operating in and around communities where anything out the ordinary will be spotted and reported (locals are the first to notice something out of place)

The opportunity to work with civilians to gain their trust and understanding of the issues

In an interview with blogger Aaron Wilson, the Army spokesman for Jade Helm, LTC Mark Lastoria, added some depth to that earlier clue:

Q: [Wilson] What is this “blending in” that you talked about in Bastrop [TX]?

A: [Lastoria] We want to get the Midwest mindset going, it is an adaptive technique, a subtly [sic] we need to master, quite different than Atlantic Coast style.

What Lastoria is talking about is learning and adapting to cultural cues in the human domain.  He points out (elliptically, but you know this if you know where ARSOF regularly conduct exercises) that the cultural conditions in Texas will be somewhat different from those on the Atlantic Coast.  (Primarily North Carolina.)  That’s a desirable feature for a robust training evolution.

But put that together with the original point from the briefing: that Texas was chosen because of the traditional friendliness of the population.  That characteristic fits well with the population profile SOF would expect if it deployed abroad for unconventional warfare.  The U.S. would deploy SOF to link up with friendly elements of local populations for an unconventional warfare mission.

Putting it all together now: we might know going in that these foreign populations were friendly (like Texas) in the sense of sharing a political goal with us.  But SOF would still need to understand their local norms to operate among them successfully.  That, in sum, is the live-play proposition of Jade Helm.

The other big clue to this “cultural understanding” aspect of the human domain in Jade Helm is also from Lastoria’s interview with Aaron Wilson.  It’s this brief passage:

Q:  What does the wooden clog symbolize in your logo center between the crossed arrows and dagger?

A:  It relates to N. European resistance to tyranny going back some 70 years and a reuniting with a democratic form of governance.

Frankly, although I didn’t key on the clog, I immediately thought of the U.S. connection with European resistance movements when I first saw the original briefing back in March, and connected it with the meaning of “unconventional warfare.”  The main example that occurred to me was the French resistance in World War II.  The clog would symbolize equally the resistance movements in the Netherlands and Belgium.  (Although Lastoria refers to “northern Europe,” other examples from the same period would be the resistance movements in Greece and the Balkans.)

image: http://libertyunyield.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Jade-Helm-logo.jpg

Jade Helm logoJade Helm, in other words, really is about practicing the skills needed to embed with a resistance movement in a foreign population, where the government is hostile.  “Mastering the human domain” relates to the requirements and skills for that mission.

I don’t believe the exercise scenario designates the state government of Texas as a hostile entity.  There is no indication of that.  Given the fact that straightforward conclusions about Jade Helm make sense based on DOD policy, and on what has actually been said about the exercise, there appears to be no reason to speculate fancifully on this head.

“Hostile,” where it is played live in these exercises, is typically played by a separate force drawn from the designated agency or service participants, and organized to act independently.  In this case that would include DOD entities and players from other agencies, such as homeland security and the FBI.  (If you’d like a concurring opinion on that from another vet, I can recommend the very sensible post here.)

Application to Jade Helm: Intelligence operations

That said, the second key aspect of Jade Helm should be of concern to us.  And the validity of this concern is revealed most clearly by filtering the Jade Helm event through the prism of the “human domain.”

To put it briefly: from the perspective of American citizens, collecting and processing intelligence for human domain operations is likely to be intrusive and unacceptable in the IT realm.

Almost nothing has been said in public about the IT element in human domain operations, as it relates to Jade Helm.  But if you investigate human domain theory, IT figures hugely in it.  Much of operationalizing the human domain concept is about leveraging – wait for it – “Big Data”: that universe of data now floating around on people and events.

An example that would probably apply to an exercise like Jade Helm is monitoring the routine communications of the local population, whether by scooping in data from social media or by some means of watching patterns in communications metadata (e.g., big spikes in cell-phone calls just before major events, or just after something unique has been detected by the locals).  These are simplified examples, meant to suggest the categories of phenomena that human domain intelligence would be looking for.

Figure 3.  Schematic of old-style intelligence collection and analysis: stovepiped “INTs” tasked against specific targets, and compared and analyzed with a focus on those targets to produce an assessment.  Note the arrow at the top pushing outward from the grab-bag of INTs. (Graphic: Chandler P. Atwood, National Defense University. Link in text)

But the Big Data aspect of the approach is what’s most important.  (Hang in there with me; I promise you, this all matters.)  The concept of human domain intelligence explicitly says that the old-style collection of data – against designated targets, and once those targets are thought to be meaningful – is inadequate.  See figure 3 for a representation of this old-style mode of collection.

What human domain intelligence envisions is using the Big Data construct of persistent surveillance, meaning that the types of activity from which you can sometimes need to draw conclusions should be collected constantly and comprehensively, and then stored, and “pulled” from – data-mined – at the moment of need.  (See figures 4 and 5.)

Figure 4.  Schematic of “activity based intelligence” (ABI): persistent, all-INT collection from which network connections in the human domain can be developed, and which can be data-mined for specific current needs.  Note how the orange arrow is inverted, “reaching into” the Big Data database for what is needed for a particular problem.  (Graphic: Chandler P. Atwood, National Defense University. Link in text)

If this sounds like the description of NSA’s notorious database – the trillions and trillions of bits of unfiltered metadata being collected and stored on Americans’ IT activities over the past decade – that’s because it is.  The chirpy tone in which DOD briefers and contractors discuss the need for a persistent, Big Data approach indicates how routine and accepted the concept is today in government planning.

(For additional perspective, see the entire brief here from which figure 5 is an excerpt, and note the proposed application for emergency management and law enforcement use in slides 30-32.  The vision for using Big Data involves massive and persistent “mapping” of human activity.  In DOD’s human domain approach, Big Data is focused through the lens of an analytical rubric called Activity Based Intelligence, or ABI, which is discussed in the slide presentations linked above as well as here and here.)

Figure 5.  The emphasis on "persistent surveillance" as a core element of activity based intelligence. The idea is to record activities, or events, as they occur, store them in a massive database, and mine them later as necessary.  GEOINT refers to geospatial intelligence, which includes human activities referenced to terrain as well as natural physical features. (Graphic: Joseph D. Fargnoli, RITRE Corp. Link in text)

Now, constant collection is a very fine thing against foreign targets. If our special forces deploy into foreign territory to assist an insurgency we support against a hostile government, I hope the military is collecting the living snot out of the whole environment, IT included, as persistently and intrusively as we can manage.

But if an exercise is being held in the state of Texas – whose IT environment is being persistently collected against, to simulate the conditions special forces need for mastering the human domain?  What are they doing with the data?  What happens to the data afterward?  Is this something the citizens of Texas would approve?

Interestingly, in spite of the cloak of secrecy that always attends special operations, I’ve seen one reference to IT surveillance in reporting on Jade Helm, from this Gawker post by William M. Arkin in May:

Jade Helm is particularly focused on what’s called intelligence preparation of the battlespace (IPB), and the skills of surveillance and cellphone interception—targeting—that goes on in the Middle East and Africa.

Arkin doesn’t say what the source of this factual assertion is, but it does fit in with the common focal points of special operations and human domain operations.  And Arkin gets some other things right, like his allusion to “Phase Zero” as the earliest preparing-the-battlespace phase of a campaign’s life cycle.  We can assume with confidence that he’s correct here.

Concerns about Jade Helm 2015

That’s why I conclude this post with a reiteration of concern about Jade Helm.  The more we know, the better defined our concerns can be.  Initially, my main issue was that Americans should not simply accept being conditioned to having military exercises unfold in the midst of our communities.  We need not imagine that anyone has bad intentions, to recognize that that is still a bad idea.  It opens a door to misuse, down the road, of inherently dangerous activities we’ve become complacent about.

The other concern is what exactly will be going on with the IT-oriented, persistent-surveillance-plus-Big-Data aspect of Jade Helm and its human domain focus.  Someone in Texas – ideally, starting with the governor – should know what’s being done in that regard.

Big Data and the human domain: a simplified schematic of the mass of collectible "event" data available for characterizing the human domain in which a military force will operate.  It's one thing if this schematic is overlaid on Afghanistan.  It looks a little different if it's overlaid on Texas.  Whose data and "events" are being recorded, to map the human domain?

In fact, a condition of holding this kind of exercise in a state should be that the governor can select some people to be read into the requisite defense programs, and watch what’s being done in real time.

Senators and congressmen certainly have the right to inquire into this on behalf of their constituents.  There’s a valid need for operational secrecy, but if the American people are being collected on by any agency of the government, they have the right to critical, skeptical, even adversarial representation.  Ideally, more than one branch or level of government should be looking out for their interests.  One of the purposes of checks and balances is to ensure against just such a situation as unchecked presumptions being made in favor of the executive branch.

Government collecting Big Data on the American people, for general purposes, is a whole separate question, and I won’t get into it here.  But the necessity of doing it for a military exercise – assuming that is in fact what’s being planned – is a distinct question in and of itself.  The line protecting Americans’ rights becomes very shaky if military exercises start treating the citizens as if we are foreign collection targets, just because that can be done undetectably, without citizens being aware of it. 

* A number of websites are repeating a theme that “Jade” stands for Joint Assistant for Deployment and Execution, and that this planning software is connected somehow to the human domain aspect of the exercise.  This is incorrect (indeed, rather laughably so).

The Air Force commissioned a DARPA project in 1997 to produce a computerized tool that would help build a fearsome deployment-planning database known to harassed mid-grade officers as the TPFDD (“tip-fid,” or Time-Phased Force Deployment Data).  The project ran through 2001, and was reported out here.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with the human domain effort.

The word Helm, meanwhile, is not an acronym for “Homeland Eradication (or Elimination) of Local Militants.”

freedom combo 2

Former terror suspect well known to the FBI is named as one of two gunmen shot dead by cops after attack on anti-Islam ‘draw Muhammad’ art contest near Dallas


waving flagBy Wills Robinson and Ted Thornhill and Lydia Warren For Dailymail.com

A former terror suspect has been named as one of the gunmen shot dead by police after the two attackers blasted an unarmed security guard in the ankle during an anti-Islam art contest in Texas on Sunday night.

Elton Simpson, 30, who was previously the subject of a terror investigation, and his roommate Nadir Soofi, 34, were armed with assault rifles when they were killed by a quick-thinking traffic officer after opening fire outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Dallas, at around 7pm.

The shooting unfolded as the American Freedom Defense Initiative held an event inside the building where caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were being displayed. Followers of Islam deem that any physical depiction of the prophet – even a positive one – is blasphemous.

Simpson, identified in court papers as an American Muslim, had been convicted of lying to federal agents about his plans to travel to Somalia five years ago, but a judge ultimately ruled it could not be proved that he was heading there to join a terror group. He was placed on probation.

Soofi, named as the second gunman by the Washington Post, shared an apartment with Simpson at the Autumn Ridge complex in Phoenix.

On Monday morning, FBI agents and investigators could be seen cordoning off and searching the apartment, as well as a white van believed to belong to Simpson. Investigators are also reviewing computer records from materials found at the home.

Shot dead: Elton Simpson, pictured left, and Nadir Soofi, right, opened fire outside an anti-Islam event on Sunday evening in Texas

Killed: FBI crime scene investigators look at the bodies of the two killed gunmen outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas on Monday. Police killed the two men after they opened fire at an anti-Islam event on Sunday
Killed: FBI crime scene investigators look at the bodies of the two killed gunmen outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas on Monday. Police killed the two men after they opened fire at an anti-Islam event on Sunday
ISIS supporters claimed on Twitter that one of the gunmen was a man calling himself Shariah Is Light on the social media site
ISIS supporters claimed on Twitter that one of the gunmen was a man calling himself Shariah Is Light on the social media site

On Monday, Simpson’s father said that he believes his son, who had worked in a dentist’s office, ‘made a bad choice’.

‘We are Americans and we believe in America,’ Dunston Simpson told ABC News. ‘What my son did reflects very badly on my family.’

Ahead of the attack on Sunday evening, several Twitter messages were sent out, and authorities believe Simpson was behind them. The last one was shared just half an hour before the shooting.

Followers of ISIS had been calling for an attack online for more than a week after learning that the competition in Garland would feature a ‘draw Muhammad’ art contest, with a prize of $10,000 for the best caricature.After the attack, the SITE Intelligence Group reported that an Islamic State fighter claimed on Twitter that the shooting was carried out by two pro-Isis individuals.

In a series of tweets and links, a jihadist named as Abu Hussain AlBritani, which SITE said was British IS fighter Junaid Hussain, claimed that ‘2 of our brothers just opened fire’ at the Prophet Muhammad exhibition in Texas.

‘They Thought They Was Safe In Texas From The Soldiers of The Islamic State,’ added the tweet.

Other ISIS supporters claimed on Twitter that one of the gunmen was a man calling himself Shariah Is Light on the social media site, using the now-suspended account name @atawaakul, according to New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi.

He had posted a message earlier that said ‘the bro with me and myself have given bay’ah [oath] to Amirul Mu’mineen [ISIS leader Al Baghdadi]. May Allah accept us as mujahideen #texasattack’.

The contest was just minutes from finishing when multiple gunshots were heard.

The two suspects had pulled up in a vehicle before getting out and firing at a security officer, 57-year-old Bruce Joiner, who was employed by the independent school district. He was later taken to hospital in a stable condition and was released on Sunday evening.

Attack: The bodies of shooting suspects are seen next to their vehicle as it is searched for explosives at an anti-Muslim event in Texas on Sunday. The two men had got out the vehicle and opened fire, wounding a security guard in the leg, before they were shot by police

Attack: The bodies of shooting suspects are seen next to their vehicle as it is searched for explosives at an anti-Muslim event in Texas on Sunday. The two men had got out the vehicle and opened fire, wounding a security guard in the leg, before they were shot by police

Elton Simpson was well known to the FBI. In 2010, he was convicted of lying to federal agents about his plans to travel to Somalia – although a judge ultimately ruled it could not be proved that he was heading there to join a terror group.

During the investigation, an FBI informant recorded their conversations, which showed Simpson talking about his intentions to fight for the Muslim way of life.

Court documents state: ‘Mr. Simpson said that the reward is high because “If you get shot, or you get killed, it’s [heaven] straight away”…. “[Heaven] that’s what we here for…so why not take that route?”‘

He added that in countries, such as Palestine, Iraq and Somalia, ‘they trying to bring democracy over there man, they’re trying to make them live by man-made laws, not by Allah’s laws’.

He went on: ‘That’s why they get fought. You try to make us become slaves to man? No we slave to Allah, we going to fight you to the death.’

In a recording from 2009, he told the informant that it was time they went to Somalia.

‘It’s time,’ he said. ‘I’m tellin’ you man. We gonna make it to the battlefield… It’s time to roll…

‘People fighting and killing your kids, and dropping bombs on people that have nothing to do with nothing. You got to fight back you can’t be just sitting down… smiling at each other…’

As the gunmen got out of their car with their weapons, one police officer – a tenured traffic cop – shot both men dead, Garland Police officer Joe Harn said at a press conference on Monday. The officer used his service pistol to shoot the men, who were carrying assault weapons.

‘With what he was faced with and his reaction and his shooting with a pistol, he did a good job,’ Harn said of the officer.

‘He did what he was trained to do, and under the fire that he was put under, he did a very good job and probably saved lives. We think their strategy was to get into the events center and they were not able to get past that outer perimeter.’

Randy Potts, a contributor for The Daily Beast, recalled how he was watching the speeches wrap up when a man wearing camouflage shouted: ‘Get inside the conference room now!’

‘The room was oddly quiet,’ he said. ‘A hush fell over the crowd of about 150, as if we were listening for something outside. Then a camo-clad security guard with a rifle got up on stage and announced that a cop and two suspects had been shot.’

He described how security surrounding the event was evident even as he drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center. The parking lot was surrounded by yellow tape and his ID was checked twice before he was allowed to enter.

Johnny Roby of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, had also been attending the conference. He said he was outside the building when he heard around 20 shots that appeared to be coming from the direction of a passing car.

Roby said he then heard two single shots before officers yelled that they had the car before he was sent inside the building.

The building, which had about 100 people inside, and surrounding areas were placed on lockdown by SWAT teams.

FBI bomb squad robots were then sent in to check the suspects’ vehicle, as the two bodies of the gunmen lay on the road beside it. The bodies were not immediately taken from the scene because they were too close to the car, which police feared had incendiary devices inside.

Shortly before midnight, police alerted media that a strong electronic pulse would be activated near the scene, presumably as part of the bomb squad’s work, and a loud boom was heard moments later, though police did not comment further on what was carried out.

The art event had been condemned by critics as an attack on Islam, but the organizers insisted they were exercising free speech.

Some Twitter users began posting about the shooting using a #JeSuisGarland hashtag, mirroring the #JesuisCharlie hashtag that became popular after January’s jihadist attacks in France. In that incident, gunmen killed 12 people in the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in revenge for its cartoons of the prophet.

After the gunfire in Garland, those inside the building started to sing patriotic songs, including the national anthem and God Bless America, and said a prayer for the injured security guard after one woman pulled out an American flag from her bag.

Garland Police officer Joe Harn said on Sunday evening they had been monitoring the build-up to the event and had not received any credible threats.

During a press conference, he described how the shootout lasted only seconds. A large area around the Center remained blocked off late into the night.

Update: On Monday, Garland Police spokesperson Joe Harn praised the traffic officer who took down both of the attackers
Update: On Monday, Garland Police spokesperson Joe Harn praised the traffic officer who took down both of the attackers

Texas Governor Greg Abbott described the incident as a ‘senseless attack’ and praised the ‘swift action’ of Garland law enforcement.

Security guard Bruce Joiner was shot in the leg while standing outside the building. His injuries were not life-threatening
Security guard Bruce Joiner was shot in the leg while standing outside the building. His injuries were not life-threatening

The attack unfolded shortly after Dutch member of parliament and leader of the far-right Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, had delivered his keynote speech. There had been calls by members of Congress for him to be stopped at the border so he would not be able to speak.

‘We are here in defiance of Islam to stand for our rights and freedom of speech,’ he said during his speech shortly before the building was shut down. ‘That is our duty… Our message today is very simple: we will never allow barbarism, never allow Islam, to rob us of our freedom of speech.’

His remarks were met with a standing ovation. He then told the audience that most terrorists are Muslims, and ‘the less Islam the better’.

In 2009, he sparked controversy for showing a controversial film which linked the Koran to terrorism and has previously said the Netherlands is being taken over by a ‘tsunami of Islamisation’.

Pamela Geller, the organizer of the event and the leader of Stop Islamisation of America, wrote on her personal website after the attack: ‘This is a war. This is war on free speech. What are we going to do? Are we going to surrender to these monsters?’

In a post in late March, she insisted that the event was necessary to fight back against what she described as ‘the jihad against freedom’.

It was set up by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and had been described by opponents as an attack on Islam. They booked the center a little more than a week after Islamic militants in France killed 12 people at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The Garland Independent School district, who own the cultural center, allowed the event to go ahead despite criticism from residents and local Muslims that it was a risk to public safety.

The group spent $10,000 on 40 additional security officers, aware of potential threats they may attract, while Garland Police officers were fully prepared to deal with any issues that arose.

Before the event, the New York-based organisation made the headlines for its sponsorship of anti-Islamic adverts which it paid to run on transit systems in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and San Francisco.

A picture taken from inside the event just before the attack showed Geller giving a check for $12,500 to Bosch Fawtin who won the event.

He told the Dallas Morning News he believed there would be no danger because of the high levels of security surrounding the event.

‘I had known it would be secure, but seeing it is a whole new thing,’ he said before the shootings.

Locals in Garland said they were upset with the exhibit being held in their town, and tried to convince the city council to intervene.

One resident, Dorothy Brooks, said that the event was like shouting ‘fire!’ in a theater – an oft-cited example of freedom of speech taken too far.

She continued: ‘I understand that participants have a right to express themselves with cartoons, but I regret that this will be happening in our city.’

Another, Lena Griffin, asked at a city council meeting: ‘Do we want to be involved with this type of rhetoric?’ It is not an issue of free speech but clearly one of public safety.’

Winner: Artist Bosh Fawstin (left) is presented with a check for $12,500 by Dutch politician Geert Wilders (center) and Pamela Geller (right) during a ceremony at the Curtis Culwell Center just before the shootings occurred 

Winner: Artist Bosh Fawstin (left) is presented with a check for $12,500 by Dutch politician Geert Wilders (center) and Pamela Geller (right) during a ceremony at the Curtis Culwell Center just before the shootings occurred

The site obtained a letter from congressmen Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) and André Carson (D-Indiana) sent to John Kerry and Homeland Security asking them to bar a speaker for the event from entering the United Statescropped-different-free-speech-ideologies.jpg

Caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed have triggered violent protests in the past, including when the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published 12 satirical cartoons in 2005, triggering deadly protests in some Muslim countries.

In January, just weeks after the Paris attacks, an event called Stand with the Prophet was held in the same center. Muslim leaders from across the world gathered to try and combat ‘Islamophobes in America’ who had turned Muhammad into an ‘object of hate’.

Geller spearheaded about 1,000 picketers at the event. One chanted: ‘Go back to your own countries! We don’t want you here!’ Others held signs with messages such as, ‘Insult those who behead others,’ an apparent reference to recent beheadings by the militant group Islamic State.

Mr Abbott said state officials are investigating, and Dallas FBI spokeswoman Katherine Chaumont said that the agency is providing investigative and bomb technician assistance.

The Charlie Hebdo attack was followed by another a month later in Europe. A masked gunman sprayed bullets into a Copenhagen meeting in February attended by a Swedish artist who had been threatened with death for his cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

A civilian was killed and three police officers were injured in the attack, aimed at artist Lars Vilks, who stirred controversy in 2007 with published drawings depicting the Prophet Mohammad as a dog.

Denmark itself became a target 10 years ago after the publication of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad. The images led to sometimes fatal protests in the Muslim world.

CONTROVERSIAL CARICATURES: WHY DEPICTING THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD IS BANNED BY MUSLIMS

It’s not mentioned in Islam’s holy book, the Quran, but the religion’s ban on depicting the Prophet Muhammad — even favorably — has run firm through the centuries.

Religious traditions built over the years have prohibited such depictions out of respect for Muhammad and to discourage idolatry, according to Muslim scholars and clerics. The ban is further rooted in a wider prohibition against images or statues of human beings.

There have been exceptions. A rich tradition of depicting Muhammad emerged in miniatures and illustrations for manuscripts from around 1200 to 1700. The art is mainly from Turkey and Iran, where pictorial traditions were stronger than in the Arab world. The paintings often show traditional stories from Muhammad’s life, such as his journey to heaven, though in some the prophet’s face is obscured by a veil or a plume of flame.

Shiites also differ from Sunnis by depicting Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali, revered by Shiites who see him as the prophet’s rightful successor. His image — and those of his sons Hassan and Hussein — are plentiful among Shiites, adorning posters, banners, jewelry and even keychains. For Sunnis, the ban on depictions extends beyond the prophet to his close companions and wives.

‘The Prophet Muhammad enjoys sublime and supreme status among Muslims and it is impossible to let a normal person depict or act the role of the prophet,’ said Iraqi Shiite cleric Fadhil al-Saadi. ‘There is no confirmed information about the shape or the features of the Prophet … So nobody should come up with a painting or an image of him. That would represent an insult to the status of the prophet.’

With no explicit text against depictions — or against images of humans in general — the prohibition comes from deduction by Muslim scholars and interpreters over the centuries from the collections of Hadeeth, or sayings and actions of Muhammad.

The prohibition against depicting humans and other living beings, which emerged from scholars as early as the 9th century, came from reported sayings of Muhammad, in some of which he refused to enter a room with such depictions or challenged their creators to breathe life into them. The presumption was that such art would suggest man can emulate God’s powers of creation — and there were worries that statues in particular could encourage idolatry.

Islamic tradition is full of written descriptions of Muhammad and his qualities — describing him as the ideal human being. But clerics have generally agreed that trying to depict that ideal is forbidden. That puts satirical — and obscene — depictions like those in the French magazing Charlie Hebdo far beyond the pale.

While no one knows Muhammad’s true appearance, followers of the relatively modern, ultraconservative Salafi movement in Islam seek to emulate him as closely as possible — including in what they believe to be his physical features and dress. Hardcore Salafis wear a beard without a moustache, let their hair grow long, line their eyes with kohl or wear robes stopping around mid-shin, contending that was the prophet’s manner.

The ban also extends to his wives, daughters, sons-in-law, the first caliphs who succeeded him and his closest companions. In fact, Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, the Sunni world’s foremost seat of religious learning, has complained when ‘Mohammed, Messenger of God,’ an epic 1970s Hollywood production, depicted the prophet’s camel.

There is a thriving production of religious TV series in the Arab world depicting the times of the prophet. But Muhammad and his companions are never themselves shown. At times, a white light stands in for Muhammad in the films or in movie posters — and when they are meant to be addressing Muhammad, the actors usually speak into the camera. 

My Own Two Cents………New WhatDidYouSay Logo

Regardless of how you feel about the event, there is one fact that must remain absolutely clear. The event was about FREE SPEECH, organized by, and conducted by, people who are fed up with all the Islamification of America. Anytime you have one group of people controlling what all other groups can, and cannot say, is a form of tyranny that can never be tolerated. How they expressed this with the cartoons is objected to by people from all political sides. I understand. Still, killing people because you don’t like their speech can never be accepted.

We are Americans. Our freedoms have been eroded since the Wilson administration. What you are hearing are the voices of patriots refusing to give up quietly, and without a fight. I am one person who is tired of all the talk. and with this blog, and other activities, I am trying to wake up Americans to action (not violence).

I leave you with the following image I just created. Get ready. You are going to see it a lot in the coming days.

Free Speech Definition

freedom OARLogo Picture6

 

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