Thinking About Conspiracies

Back to the Iowa National Guard issue for a bit.  My skepticism here of any broad plan to confiscate guns isn’t related to any general trust in government, or in Obama.  I think Obama would ban all firearms if he thought he could get away with it politically, and there are certainly a lot of folks in government who share that view.  But our government is not a secret cabal.  It’s made up of a lot of ordinary Americans who believe in a lot of the same things you’ll find among other ordinary Americans. In order to believe that the exercise in Iowa is intended as a test run for gun confiscation, you need to believe the following, all of which I find highly implausible:

  • The President and the Democrats have made plans for a widespread confiscation of firearms using the National Guard.  There are several problems with this.  For one, where’s the bill?  I can’t remember ever seeing a bill in Congress that goes this far.  So far the worst we have in this Congress is Congressman Rush’s licensing and registration bill. There’s lot of chatter about renewing assault weapons bans, gun show loophole, and various other stupid measures on The Hill, but no chatter about gun confiscations that I’ve heard of.  This must be a pretty tight conspiracy, considering all the staffers who would have to know, and who haven’t said anything about the Dems secret plans.
  • Why only the Iowa National Guard?  Where’s the training for the rest of the guard units that would need to be used for such a massive confiscation measure?   Where’s the bill authorizing the use of the guard in this manner?  Because under current law, it would be unlawful.
  • That the Adjudant General of the State of Iowa, and probably the NRA A-rated Governor that appointed him, is in on the conspiracy.  As best I can tell, this particular National Guard unit is not been activated into federal service.  If the unit has not been activated, they are under the command authority of the Governor of Iowa, through the Adjutant General’s office.  Now, the various state National Guards are administered through the National Guard Bureau at the Department of Defense, but they basically set standards, pay for the training and equipping of the various state National Guard units, and periodically review Guard units to assess their readiness to be called into federal service.
  • Obama has ordered the National Guard Bureau to start conducting exercises for weapons seizures.  In which case many people in that office would have to know.  The various people in that office would also have to apply pressure various state Adjudant General’s offices to conduct the training of their units for this measure.  All this without anyone leaking anything to the media.  I suppose it could be conducted under the guise of training for Iraq, but to be honest, if that’s the guise, that ends up being, in effect, what it will be for.  The military trains to do terrible things all the time, but mostly to people who deserve it.  I don’t doubt there are people who wish to turn the military to do terrible things to us, but would the military obey such orders?  The military made up of millions of individual ordinary Americans who take an oath to the constitution.

In order to really believe that this Guard Unit is training with the specific idea of confiscating arms from Americans, you’d essentially have to buy the notion that Obama is going to seize power and become a dictator.  Our system set up to distribute power among a large number of entities, thus making it harder for one person to demand control, or to secretly manipulate the system without someone talking.  If Obama wanted to confiscate guns through our current system of government, he’d have to put his cards on the table first, and so far, those cards haven’t appeared.

I find the prospect of Obama seizing dictatorial power highly improbable, and I doubt Obama would find enough willing to enforce his decrees.  I spent the past eight years listening to this from the left in regards to Bush becoming a dictator.  Well, Bush served out two terms and we had a peaceful transition of power as described by our Constitution.  Now it appears I’ll have to spend the next four to eight years (let’s hope four) listening to this crap from the right.  I have little faith in government as an entity, but I have strong faith that the system that defines our Federal Republic is one that makes it extraordinarily difficult for any one person to rule.

18 thoughts on “Thinking About Conspiracies”

  1. My own initial response was…rather strident…but I’m starting to cool down a bit.

    “Why only the Iowa National Guard?” Was it planned by the Iowa Governor, not the National command, perhaps?

    Or this could have been a trial balloon.

    Mostly, though, I think this was just a failure of anyone at any level to ask, “What’s this going to look like?”

    I really do hope that this one being shot down so quickly and thoroughly has made some planners piss their pants as they realize just how touchy America is at the moment, particularly with regards to anything that looks even remotely like preparing America to invade itself.

    The outrage over this was completely justified, even if somewhat misplaced. This is something we should be pretty damn prickly about.

    My thought is that every household that volunteered for this needs to have a rifle or shotgun proudly on display, and that initial responses to queries about “weapons dealers” should point to the nearest sporting goods store. Just to remind everyone that we are, after all, in America, where you need to expect an armed populace.

  2. It probably was planned under Bush. They ran some Special Forces – Delta – Seal training ops in major US cities a few years back without bothering to notify the local authorities. It’s a miracle no one was killed.

    On the other hand, Obama’s overreaching on cabinet appointees convinces me his judgment is as bad as his philosophy. I can see them cooking up a theory whereby he had authority under his powers as commander in chief and under the Patriot Act to declare an emergency and do a New Orleans / Katrina type search and seizure using the Guard. They would expect to be overturned by the courts, but of course by that time the guns would all be in the smelter.

  3. Or this could have been a trial balloon.

    Who’s floating the balloon?

    I agree that it’s likely someone not thinking about what it would look like. Also something not thinking carefully about the implications of getting civilian communities involved in military exercises.

  4. In order to really believe that this Guard Unit is training with the specific idea of confiscating arms from Americans, you’d essentially have to buy the notion that Obama is going to seize power and become a dictator.

    You do? As you said in the first post, the drill could have been planned under Bush. Or it could have been planned further down the chain of command. And it wouldn’t necessarily mean anyone plans on becoming a dictator either. At least not in the planner’s mind. Going back to the Cold War, I’m sure the Feds had contingency plans for fighting a domestic, communist coup. Before that, plans to fight a fascist coup. Etcetera, etcetera, on back to the Whiskey Rebellion.

    As such, there may very well be people in government with “good intentions” who are planning for worst case scenarios where arms may be confiscated . One doesn’t have to be paranoid to see that. Nor does one need even factor in Obama to imagine how easily such a plan could spiral out of control. Like the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  5. I can see them cooking up a theory whereby he had authority under his powers as commander in chief and under the Patriot Act to declare an emergency and do a New Orleans / Katrina type search and seizure using the Guard. They would expect to be overturned by the courts, but of course by that time the guns would all be in the smelter.

    I don’t believe PATRIOT authorizes any such thing. In order for National Guard troops to be mobilized in New Orleans, it required the consent of the Governor of Louisiana. In fact, one reason it took the feds so long to do anything was because The Governor wouldn’t make a decision.

    The governing law here is the Posse Comitatus Act of 1879 and Insurrection Act of 1807. Mostly the Insurrection Act, which is 10 U.S.C. § 331. Blanco had to request help under this statute, and until she did, Bush couldn’t unilaterally deploy the National Guard from other states into the area.

    The Insurrection Act was actually modified to allow for this, but those amendments were repealed in 2008.

  6. illspirit:

    If such plans have existed for the history of our Republic, and I do believe they probably have, then our Republic hasn’t suffered much for them. I don’t support this particular type of exercise, precisely because of the potential precedent set of the military mucking about in civilian affairs, but I’m not particularly alarmed by the fact that someone planned it. It should be opposed because it’s a bad idea. I don’t think it’s indicative that preparations are being made for widespread disarmament.

  7. Unfortunately, buddy there are probably lots of people who believe that Obama is planning on becoming a dictator.

  8. I have little doubt of that Caleb, but I don’t consider such a belief any different from the left’s loony view for the past eight years that Bush was going to do the same. In fact, when it comes to scary exercise of military powers domestically, Bush makes Obama look like a piker. But we will see… Obama still has some time to catch up.

  9. imo this is just a training NCO/Officer with a personal agenda.

    Unless the guard operates differently than the regular army, it’s highly unlikely that anyone at the upper levels, either state or national, determines specific training exercises. This is why units have training NCOs/Officers to decide the type, scope and other specifics of the exercise. Upper levels just determine the requirements in a general sense: number of hours for each type of training, x number for physical, y number for weapons, etc.

    What scares me is that the locals didn’t respond with a resounding ‘oh hell no’.

  10. Sebastian, I’m not particularly alarmed either. My point was just there doesn’t need to be any evil conspiracy for there to be drastic plans. If you were to go dig around in the Pentagon or NSA basement, you could probably find some dusty old folders with contingency plans for a Martian invasion.

    Not because they believe it could actually happen, but because they like to have a plan for everything plus one. Well that, and, planning for seemingly absurd worst-case scenarios is a good mental exercise for learning how to think outside the box.

    So, yea, are they actively preparing to start confiscating tomorrow/next week/next month? Probably not. Do they have a plan for it, just in case? Well, it would be kind of silly for them to not have one, if you think about it.

  11. While arms confiscation would be one of the first ideas of someone who wanted to gain dictatorial power, the problem I see is the execution, i.e., who would mobilize to confiscate tens of millions of small arms? The confiscations would have to be nearly simultaneous, or millions of guns would get “lost” before the confiscators got their hands on them! I don’t see the US military or Guard doing any such thing, because IMO the military people are some of the best, most principled agents of the Republic there are! I would expect widespread mutiny against the execution of an unlawful order such as confiscation of all civilian arms within the states.
    More frightening to me is the idea of the mass of “sheeple” dutifully (and voluntarily) turning in their arms to agents of the government under some pretext of “the common good”.

  12. Execution is the real problem. At worst, we’d end up with a civil war. At best, a serious constitutional crisis. But I think, in the end, most of the military aren’t going to obey illegal orders. Door to door confiscation would be unlawful under the 4th Amendment, even if you put the Second Amendment aside.

  13. Clearly the military needs to do a better job of communicating it’s operations to the civilian population. This is just training for SASO. There is nothing special or sneaky about it.

    “Stability Operations apply military power to influence the political and civil environment, to facilitate diplomacy, and to interrupt specified illegal activities. Its purpose is to deter or thwart aggression; reassure allies, friendly governments, and agencies; encourage a weak or faltering government; stabilize a restless area; maintain or restore order; and, enforce agreements and policies.”

    Right now big chunks of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are SASO operations. SASO is a big component of most peacekeeping operations as well.

    In short, this would be like saying if the Army runs a live-fire exercise they are training to shoot US citizens. A little pre-panic research is probably a good idea.

  14. Folks, mulligan’s got it right. Unless you’ve been in a leadership position in a Guard or Reserve unit, you have no idea how difficult it is to come up with training plans that actually engage your people and keep them interested. I’ve been there, trust me, it’s tough. Cut the unit some slack and take off the tinfoil hats.

  15. Pretty good comments on this thread. It seems this might be more of a case of someone looking for a good training exercise that reflects the realities today’s Guardsman may find him or herself immersed in than any real nefariousness.

  16. I still say that if and when the time ever comes for massive sweeps nationwide to confiscate our guns, it will be executed by Obama’s newly-formed “civilian defense corps” or whatever rather than National Guard units. The National Guard unrest will just be on stand-by to quell the ensuing civil unrest in the aftermath of the gun grab and/or food riots.

  17. More interesting info coming out. I was inclined to agree with most commenters here that the level of paranoia was unwarranted. But…..

    This you tube video of LTC Hapgood from the ING interviwed by Alex Jones doesn’t bode well. LTC Hapgood’s non-response to the confiscation of American Citizen’s firearms is a bit frightening.

    To make matters a bit more suspect, Camp Dodge in Iowa apparently has a MOUT center –

    If there is already a training city built 80 miles from the proposed town in which the training was to take place, why do the citizens need to participate?

    Yep – my paranoia meter climbed a few points.


  18. The initial ATF raid on the Branch Davidians used an off-the-shelf plan first developed under the first Bush administration. Even if the intentions are completely innocent, this kind of training has consequences if the situation they’re training for ever pops up and some functionary somewhere needs a plan.

    I think there’s a false alternative between some broad, top-down conspiracy, what you call a “broad plan to confiscate guns,” and completely innocent intentions. Glenn Beck claims a number of active military are worried about domestic civil unrest. Many democrats and progressives are known to desire gun control with confiscation; they have publically announced the same at times. I don’t think it’s inconceivable, paranoid or beyond the pale to ask what the intentions are of the person or people who came up with this idea. Neither is it impossible that two or three like-minded people discussed this amongst themselves. Technically, if they didn’t publicisize it, that would be a non-criminal “conspiracy,” but that doesn’t mean I think they’re working off a grand plan from Obama or the Masons.

    Specifically, when you write:

    “In order to really believe that this Guard Unit is training with the specific idea of confiscating arms from Americans, you’d essentially have to buy the notion that Obama is going to seize power and become a dictator.”

    The answer is, no, I don’t have to, and I truly don’t buy the Obama-dictator notion. I tend to agree with your point about the robustness of America’s divided government. But the first part doesn’t follow at all. Are you really asserting no one in America’s military or political classes have ever wished for gun confiscation, or war-gamed for civil unrest generally, or wondered what they would do if new regulations ever amounted to any kind of confiscation or inspection? Likelihood does not equal intention.

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