The Maryland National Guard has been put on alert in anticipation of today’s nationwide Tea Party protests, while a Homeland Security spokesman refused to deny that protesters would be under surveillance from the DHS.
The Maryland National Guard issued a Force Protection Advisory on April 11 which has since been leaked to the Internet, namely to the Jawa Report website.
The document warns the National Guard to be on alert during the Tea Party protests because Guardsmen and Guard facilities might become “targets of opportunity.” The contact point for the document is listed as the Antiterrorism Program Coordinator.
“This Maryland Army National Guard (MDARNG) Force Protection advisory is in response to a nationwide planned protest activities scheduled for April 15, 2009. Although there is no known direct threat to MDNG facilities and MDNG members, they may become a target of opportunity during plan protest activities throughout Maryland,” states the advisory.
It continues, “Numerous entities have formed recently to express displeasure/anger over recent federal/state government actions: more taxes, increased spending, higher deficits, a surge of borrowing to pay for it all, bailout of the financial institutions, and etc. This movement can be identified by different variations of “TEA Party” or “Tea Party.” Past “TEA Party” events have been peaceful. There was a “Tea party” event at Solomons, Maryland, on March 22, 2009. “TEA” stands for “Taxed Enough Already.”
The document then gives a full list of the times and locations of the Tea Party protests in Maryland and advises National Guard personnel to, “Contact local law enforcement when feel threaten by protesters or protesters trespass into MDNG.”
“Commanders at all levels should establish relationship with local police in order to understand the local threats. Keep family members informed. Talk to other service personnel to share information. Practice OPSEC. Don’t provide personal information to anyone you don’t know. Avoid high risk areas,” the advisory states.
As the Jawa Report points out, the majority of the people attending the Tea Party protests will be mainstream conservatives who are likely to be pro-military and pro-national guard. It’s almost inconceivable that they would be any kind of threat to the Maryland National Guard.
The advisory is more likely to be directed against libertarians and Ron Paul-style Republicans who will also be attending the Tea Party protests in large numbers.
Indeed, the United States Army Reserve Command issued a similar Force Protection Advisory last November before the nationwide End the Fed protests, warning that protesters were congregating across the country to demonstrate against the private Federal Reserve. The FPA issued by the Army Reserve is very similar in language to that issued by the Maryland National Guard.
Why the military and National Guard is concerning itself with peaceful, patriotic Americans who are merely exercising their right to protest is fundamentally disturbing. One would expect the police to be aware and prepared for demonstrations but only from the perspective of maintaining order and keeping the peace. The Army and the National Guard has no business putting itself on alert for peaceful demonstrations by patriotic Americans.
Meanwhile, during an interview on the Roger Hedgecock Show, Sean Smith, Assistant Secretary of DHS for Public Affairs, refused to deny that Homeland Security officials would be spying on Tea Party protesters when pressed by Hedgecock.
The Roger Hedgecock website published the following photo on its website today underneath the words,
“Can you identify this man, spying on Tea Party participants?”
“Is the department sending people to video or record in any way the Tea Parties?” asked Hedgecock during the interview.
“Um, I can’t speak to sort of things that are law enforcement sensitive. Um, so I can’t speak to any current law enforcement operations,” responded Smith.
Smith also refused to clarify whether or not the DHS considered organizers of the Tea Party protests to be right-wing extremists.
Smith appeared on the show to respond to burgeoning outrage about a recently leaked Homeland Security report that equates gun owners and protesters with domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh.
Smith implied that the the controversy surrounding the report following the widespread outrage would roll on but appeared to rule out any kind of retraction, saying that the report stands.
Listen to the interview with Smith below.