Conspiracy

Operation Revelation

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Here's the intro to a press release from the sheriff of Bossier Parish, Louisiana:

Bossier Sheriff Larry Deen has unveiled a new emergency operations plan that will be a continuation of public safety in Bossier Parish should disaster ever strike here at home.

The plan, known as Operation Exodus, will provide for self-sufficiency in the event of a manmade or natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Exodus will take local volunteers, train them and use them in response to a catastrophic disaster in the area. These volunteers will work in conjunction with the Bossier Sheriff's Office to secure and protect viable resources in such an event.

Exodus makes provisions for disasters so that Bossier Parish can be self-sufficient if necessary. "If an event were to happen nationally or locally, we want to make sure that we could take care of the people of Bossier, no matter what," said Bossier Sheriff Larry Deen. "Being prepared is the key." Within Exodus, local resources such as food, water, oil, gas, and medical facilities will be protected by teams consisting of highly-trained volunteers and BSO deputies. The plan also has use for church facilities and people with all sorts of backgrounds and talents.

From the sheriff who brought you "Operation Laura" and "Operation Anatomy of a Murder."

I'm all for smart, volunteer-driven emergency preparedness, but there's a number of potential problems here. The focus on physically securing necessities suggests that the sheriff is expecting riots, of the kind being reported in post-quake Chile, even though such events are the exception rather than the rule during a disaster. A later passage in the press release proclaims the need to contain "fear and panic," even though, again, panic in a crisis is very rare. This exaggerated fear of rioting and public panic has often prompted officials to adopt a centralized, militarized, and paranoid approach to disaster response. And sure enough, Talking Points Memo has posted a video of the volunteers in Bossier training for combat, with a deputy discussing the need to present "an overwhelming show of force prior to any incident taking place."

Add in the weaponry at the Bossier unit's disposal—the Shreveport Times reports that the arsenal includes "a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on something the sheriff's office calls 'the war wagon'"—and this looks like the intersection of two ugly trends: the militarization of disaster response and the militarization of police work. Worse yet, the news release is filled with overwrought language about "homegrown terrorists…in our midst" (aided by—horrors!—"the easy accessibility of the internet"). According to a follow-up report in Talking Points Memo, the sheriff's department claims that "there have been cells and people operating even within our parish that have been trained as terrorists or went overseas to be trained as terrorists." I associate this sort of countersubversive rhetoric with a red squad, not the Red Cross.

Operation Exodus has come in for some criticism since the story hit the national press this week. But rather than taking a civil libertarian angle, many of the critics have engaged in countersubversive rhetoric of their own. From last night's Rachel Maddow show, for example, here's Crazy for God author Frank Schaeffer:

MADDOW: Operation Exodus draws its name from the Book of Exodus in the Bible. The sheriff explains that in his press release. What do you make of linking an effort like this to the Old Testament?

SCHAEFFER: Well, it's kind of symbolic, because the story of Exodus is the Jews, the people of God, fleeing an unjust ruler. So obviously it's a backhanded comment about the United States government, Barack Obama, what have you.

You have to love that obviously. For the record, the sheriff's press release had this to say about the Biblical allusion: "In the book of Exodus, the Israelites were totally on their own, learning to be self-sufficient and handle everything alone, just as the plan provides."

More from Schaeffer:

In my mind it links up with these sheriffs who at the CPAC meeting a couple of weeks ago took an oath to break the law and not follow orders if they don't like being told. Really what this is is just another evidence of the fact that there's a right-wing fringe in this country, sometimes tied to militia movements, sometimes tied to the religious right that I write about in my book Crazy for God, sometimes just loonies, who essentially have just given up on the United States government.

I gather that the sheriffs that Schaeffer is alluding to are the Oath Keepers, a group of current and former military, law enforcement, and other government personnel who have pledged to disobey unconstitutional orders. Not any old policies that "they don't like being told," but 10 specific commands. Sixth on the list is "any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps." Since the Oath Keepers' founder has written angrily about violations of civil liberties in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I suspect that this was inspired by the infamous incident in which people fleeing New Orleans were blocked by armed agents of the Gretna police department. The police chief there defended his decision with language that echoes the fears in fellow Bayou State cop Larry Deen's press release: "There was no food, water or shelter in Gretna City. We did not have the wherewithal to deal with these people. If we had opened the bridge our city would have looked like New Orleans does now—looted, burned and pillaged."

In other words, the Oath Keepers are promising to do the exact opposite of what Deen seems to be doing. The concern in Bossier Parish is that the sheriff could use his civilian auxiliary (largely consisting of former policemen, according to the Shreveport Times) in ways that violate the Bill of Rights. The cops and ex-cops in the Oath Keepers have sworn to refuse orders that violate the Bill of Rights. It makes no sense to conflate the two. When Schaeffer tries to tie them together, he is engaged not in analysis but in a foggy sort of fearmongering.

Throughout the Maddow clip, the words "Homegrown Terrorists Are In Our Midst" appear in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. It's a quote from Deen's press release, and I assume it was selected to mock the sheriff as a hysteric. If you tuned in midway through the interview, though, you'd probably think it was a straightforward summary of the segment's message.

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  1. Movement of jah people?

    1. argghh now that song is stuck in my head

  2. You are in favour of people organizing? What are you a communist? Fucking parasites.

    1. Hurr durr. I’m incapable of distinguishing between voluntary cooperation and coercion. Hurrr…

  3. It’s just amazing how people like Maddow and Schaeffer are completely unable to see anything outside of their political worldview. I just can’t see how you can live your life like that without going insane.

    1. I think it’s more a symptom of their insanity, Epi. They went nuts years ago, you’re just picking up on the outward expression of their peculiar psychosis.

    2. Well, Maddow is nuts. And Schaeffer? He’s got some serious daddy issues. (It would be hard not to when you’re raised by a theological giant)

  4. Not surprising the sheriff would do something like this. In the event of a disaster (or anything he can label as such) he ends up in charge of an army, with control of all the food, water, fuel, etc. What’s not to love?

  5. He’s probably worried that people will become lawless and illicitly start arranging flowers.

    1. FTW!

    2. LOL
      +!

    3. Ladies and gentlemen I think we have a thread winner here.

      1. Well, Maddow is nuts. And Schaeffer? He’s got some serious daddy issues. (It would be hard not to when you’re raised by a theological giant) how to give a blowjob

  6. Jesse, how much does Reason pay you to watch MSNBC? Market forces aside, whatever the amount, it can’t possibly be enough.

  7. “In the book of Exodus, the Israelites were totally on their own”

    I respectfully disagree.

    1. “Oh, G-D dammit, manna again!!!”

  8. So, if I want to carve out my own kingdom as a warlord after a major disaster, I should become a sheriff?

    1. “Sheriff Roscoe P. Libertate…a coo coo coo”

  9. Better not visit my realm–I mean, county–in the event of a major disaster.

    “The revolution is successful. But survival depends on drastic measures. Your continued existence represents a threat to the well-being of society. Your lives mean slow death to the more valued members of the county. Therefore, I have no alternative but to sentence you to death. Your execution is so ordered, signed Libertatos, Governor of Tampa IV.”

      1. We convene with thee every Tuesday at 2100 hours. Punch and pie at the TGI Friday’s on North Dale Mabry.

    1. It’s Kodos! Kill him!

      1. Don’t be silly. I’m Anton Karidian, actor. Remember that Gatorade commercial? That was me.

  10. This may be a stretch, but it really seems like the police are starting to view themselves as an occupying force rather than the old “serve and protect” neighborhood watchmen. I wonder how pervasive this attitude really is.

    1. Think of it this way: When you are on the freeway and you see a trooper parked on the side of the road, do you think to yourself (1) “Phew, glad he’s there, I feel safer knowing he’s nearby,” or (2) “Crap, I hope he doesn’t decide to light me up.”

      Now ask yourself if most of the motorists going by feel the same way.

      1. Interestingly, sage, I was just thinking much the same thing the other night when I was driving on Blanchard; I saw a cop drive by, and I thought “you know, there once was a time when I might have said ‘good, some police presence makes this area safer'”, but instead, all I thought was “I hope one of my lights isn’t out–don’t want to give him an excuse to pull me over”.

        1. We need the dues.

        2. The QP in your spare-tire well may have been a factor in your thought process

      2. When I was a kid our parents told us the cops were our friends, and we should look for one if we needed any kind of help. Do you know anyone that tells their kid that these days?

    2. “starting”? Shit, what we see here is somebody getting really comfortable with the idea that he is the military governor.

      1. Military governor. You know what he should do? Get a tank or an A-10 and name it the Death Star.

  11. Fucking cops!

  12. You’ll be laughing out of the other side of your face when the zombies are at the gates.

    1. Indeed.

  13. The plan, known as Operation Exodus, will provide for self-sufficiency in the event of a manmade or natural disaster or a terrorist attack.

    Has anybody explained to those hillbillies that they cannot possibly be self-sufficient under those post-apocalyptic conditions if they aren’t self-sufficient right now?

  14. What do you think are the odds of Schaeffer addressing, or even acknowledging, the fact that he’s simultaneously criticizing LEO’s who want to defy illegal orders, and those who want to give them?

    1. That just means he’s a first-rate intelligence. Or completely unaware of what he’s saying. Your call.

    2. Fluffy, if you point that out to him, he’ll short circuit in a logic loop, and then Spock can beam him out into empty space just before he explodes.

    3. Exactly. It’s like how the left is critical of the Oath Keepers – people who will refuse to obey un-Constitutional orders – as the same thing as this Exodus bunch.

  15. We are Bomad. We are complete. We are instructed. Our purpose is clear. Sterilize imperfection

  16. In my mind it links up with these sheriffs who at the CPAC meeting a couple of weeks ago took an oath to break the law and not follow orders if they don’t like being told.

    I didn’t know it was illegal for a sheriff to refuse to obey an order from his superiors – a soldier, yes, but a sheriff?

    1. At least in Texas sheriffs are elected officials and the chief law enforcement officer of the county.

      They answer to the county court for budget, but pretty much have no superiors except the voters.

  17. Here is a little more “balanced” report, written more than a month ago about this…

    http://www.nwlanews.com/index……;Itemid=56

    1. Rainy-day fun: Put that article next to the original press release, and count the differences.

      1. I wonder how much critical thinking about media has been degraded by people assuming mainstream media is “balanced” as they read regurgitated press reports…

  18. In my mind it links up with these sheriffs who at the CPAC meeting a couple of weeks ago took an oath to break the law and not follow orders if they don’t like being told.

    I gather that the sheriffs that Schaeffer is alluding to are the Oath Keepers, a group of current and former military, law enforcement, and other government personnel who have pledged to disobey unconstitutional orders.

    Good Lord. Even the military isn’t obligated to follow illegal orders, but this clown obviously believes he is above the Constitution, so that any orders that he gives have the force of law even if they violate the Constitution.

    1. This guy thinks he’s just going to seize power in an emergency, not realizing how much “order” comes from the consent of the citizenry. If he started acting all tyrannical, he’d be in shock at how disobedient Americans can be. In fact, nothing would be more likely to engender disorder than some petty tyrant issuing orders.

  19. This is only happening because of unfounded fear of having an African American president. This is fearmongering among the people of Louisiana. This will only lead to violence. The state has a history and the stigma of white supremecy. It would seem that in the aftermath of Karina, this state would want to succeed for its people. It is last in virtually every demeaning category charting the progress of people. I am orginally from Louisiana. I live among those who were ignorant in their thinking and actions. If there is not any progressive change with in the state, Louisiana and its people will continue to live in ignorance. No one wants to invest there, or visit or call…

    1. Is a drink appropriate?

      1. Constantly.

  20. Isn’t it inherently nationalistic and jingoistic to demand that the government protect “american” jobs from “foreign” competition? Isn’t it inherently nationalistic and jingoistic to demand that we spend 300 billion dollars on crops that don’t sell well so that “we’ll have an agricultural infrastructure in the event of a war that cuts off all trade.” Leftists are the fucking nationalist fuck jobs.

  21. Isn’t the whole “sustainability” argument inherently nationalistic? I mean, you’re basically saying that, “hey, we should be able to continue cut off from the rest of the world.” Why would you be cut off from the rest of the world? And if armageddon comes, nothing really fucking matters then, does it? They’re so worried about what they’re going to do when the world comes, that they put it before living our actual lives now. Plus, such policy encourages militarism and connectedness. Why does nobody get that?

    The left are the real cooks, and such issues are the only ones right wingers and left wingers have in common. Preparedness for militarism. Only libertarians seem to understand that if you act like a warmongering asshole in preperation of war, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

  22. “I suspect that this was inspired by the infamous incident in which people fleeing New Orleans were blocked by armed agents of the Gretna police department.

    I suspect it was inspired by the paranoid fantasies of people in the aftermath of the H1N1 scare.

    There were a lot of people who thought the Obama Administration was building American gulag “FEMA Camps” in Montana and elsewhere to hold every American who refused to be immunized.

    1. H1N1 scare

      You mean where the world governments ran around screaming PANDEMIC! THE END IS NIGH!

  23. If you don’t like it, stay out of Bossier Parish. Talk is cheap.

  24. The concern in Bossier Parish is that the sheriff could use his civilian auxiliary (largely consisting of former policemen, according to Shreveport Times) in ways that violate the Bill of Rights. The cops and ex-cops in the Oath Keepers have sworn to refuse orders that violate the Bill of Rights. It makes no sense to conflate the two.

    Sure it does. Both groups are gun owners. That’s a liberal “close enough.”

    1. I believe you spelled the word ‘douchebags’ improperly, you seem to feel it is spelled ‘G-U-N O-W-N-E-R-S.’

  25. I suspect Sheriff Deen has watched one too many post-apocalyptic movies – and he is using these guys as his role models.

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