A Homeland Security-funded training exercise in Boston dubbed “Operation Urban Shield” that was delayed due to April’s marathon bombing revolved around a terrorist cell dubbed “Free America Citizens,” another indication of how the DHS is characterizing liberty-loving Americans as domestic extremists. The Department of Homeland Security has gone public with an admission that that exercise was planned months before the Boston Marathon bombings and that it involved backpacks being used to detonate explosives by domestic terrorists.
“Months of painstaking planning had gone into the exercise, dubbed “Operation Urban Shield,” meant to train dozens of detectives in the Greater Boston area to work together to thwart a terrorist threat. The hypothetical terrorist group was even given a name: Free America Citizens, a home-grown cadre of militiamen whose logo would be a metal skull wearing an Uncle Sam hat and a furious expression,” reports the Boston Globe.
The drill, which was funded with the aid of a $200,000 Department of Homeland Security grant and was set to involve DHS officials along with other federal authorities, centered on the scenario of domestic terrorists leaving explosive-filled backpacks at locations around the city. The exercise was due to take place this weekend but was postponed in response to the Boston bombings and is now expected to go ahead early next year.
The exercise, many details of which remain confidential, has been crafted to test the investigative skills of detectives involved who will be tasked with finding out the motivation behind the “Free America” terrorists.
The drill was planned before the Boston bombings and officials from a dozen agencies have been meeting for months to plan the scenario. The exercise bore “eerie similarities” to the real attack in that police were tasked with identifying terrorists from street surveillance camera footage.
In this case, Homeland Security’s Urban Shield drill in Boston was scheduled to take place after the bombing. However, it follows numerous Boston Urban Shield exercises and semi-annual multi-agency drills that take place every year in Boston on Patriot’s Day (when the Marathon is typically held) and July 4th.
“Today thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators are unwittingly taking part in a planned disaster …“Massachusetts is better prepared for a real disaster because every Patriot’s Day and Fourth of July is treated as a ‘disaster.’”
Over the course of the last five years, the DHS has been criticized for its involvement in numerous training exercises and the production of material which demonizes conservatives and libertarians as domestic extremists, putting them in the same league as violent terrorists.
In March, Arkansas State Fusion Center Director Richard Davis admitted that the federal agency spies on Americans deemed to be “anti-government,” noting that the DHS concentrates on, “domestic terrorism and certain groups that are anti-government. We want to kind of take a look at that and receive that information,” so-called threats which included people, “putting political stickers in public bathrooms or participating in movements against the death penalty.”
Last year, a DHS-funded study produced by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland characterized Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists.
The DHS also stoked controversy in 2011 when it released a series of videos to promote the See Something, Say Something campaign in which almost all of the terrorists portrayed in the PSAs were white Americans.
A mock DHS news report which emerged last month depicted gun owning Americans as dangerous terrorists.
A DHS-funded exercise in Seattle last month portrayed “angry” parents who homeschooled their children as terrorists.
The 2009 MIAC report, published by the Missouri Information Analysis Center and first revealed by Infowars, also framed Ron Paul supporters, libertarians, people who display bumper stickers, people who own gold, or even people who fly a U.S. flag, as potential terrorists.