Is it possible that the American Military is being screened for willingness to attack other Americans?

Dear Matt:

I got the enclosed editorial from the House of Onyx, which, incidentally, makes its profits from selling gems to well-heeled anti-government types. When I read it, I got a twinge of concern for our republic. Can it possibly be true that our Marines and F-16 pilots are being screened for willingness to shoot fellow Americans should an anti-gun law be passed; or to agree with our president if he turned over his authority to the U.N. Secretary General; or to enter a citizen's home knowing one might shoot this fellow American? These seem preposterous on the surface, but with the arrival of millennial fears and rumors, who knows? Do you?

-- Fred J. Crowe, Ocean Beach

The House of Onyx, eh? Yeah, I always dial them up when I want the true poop on secret maneuvering at the Defense Department. And by the way, when did O.B. become a hotbed of well-heeled anti-government types buying onyx as a hedge against the apocalypse? And how do Fred and Shirley ("founders, the House of Onyx, Greenville, KY") know onyx will be the currency of the new world order, once Kofi Annan is installed in the Oval Office? Anyway, when the time comes, the Alices will be living large. The elves just took off for TJ to stock up on those big tourist-trap ashtrays.

Okay, here's the anatomy of this particular scare. Over the years, the story rises and falls like the ocean swells, each time setting off a new round of explanations and clarifications.

Fred and Shirley subscribe to a newsletter called "U.N. Watch," published by the Women's International Media Group, a.k.a. Maryland financial consultant Joan Veon. (Her most recent book is an analysis of how Prince Charles of England is being secretly groomed as the leader of some U.N.-based worldwide kingdom. I'm paraphrasing...)

For an issue of Joan's newsletter, she interviewed education specialist Dean Gotcher, founder of the Institute for Authority Research, in that mecca of true believers, Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the interview, Dean mentions something to Joan about a questionnaire that had been brought to his attention by former military personnel. They told Dean the questionnaire was administered while they were on active duty, and they assumed the survey was "from the military." Because of the nature of the questions, they were alarmed and felt someone should investigate.

Joan publishes Dean's comments in "U.N. Watch," Fred and Shirley read it and editorialize in their onyx catalog/newsletter about how America's going to hell in an anti-gun/pro-U.N. handbasket. Fred gets a copy of the catalog and, naturally, sends it to me.

I e-mail Joan, who contacts Dean, who calls me up. Dean describes himself as a specialist in the study of behavior modification. His current interest is in ferreting out the group-think elements buried in Clinton's new education programs. He sees alarming examples of "transformational Marxism" and some dangerous consensus-forming techniques (techniques used to create a "soviet," he explains). Dean admits he has no hard evidence about the source of the questionnaire and was skeptical about its existence until he heard the same story from several people around the country and received a copy of it after a speaking engagement. He's reproduced it in a small flyer. He sent me a copy.

"Joint Services Training Combat Arms Survey" is the title. In Part I, you fill in some info about your branch of the service, pay grade, combat experience, education, etc. In Part II you check off your attitude ("strongly disagree" to "strongly agree" or "no opinion") toward 40 or 50 statements that describe the use of U.S. combat troops in various domestic and foreign situations: drug enforcement, environmental-disaster clean-up, border patrol, federal/state prison guards, humanitarian relief, public school teachers, advisors to SWAT/FBI/ATF, etc.

Things seem benign enough until questions 24 through 45, all of which have to do with joint forces training and assignments -- U.S. troops under U.N./foreign command, foreign troops as part of U.S. fighting units, that sort of thing. The entries that have received the most attention:

  1. I feel the President of the United States has the authority to pass his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief to the U.N. Secretary General.

  2. I would swear to the following code: "I am a United Nations fighting person. I serve in the forces which maintain world peace and every nation's way of life. I swear and affirm to support and defend the Charter of the United Nations and I am prepared to give my life in its defense."

  3. Consider the following statement: "I would fire upon U.S. citizens who refuse or resist confiscation of firearms banned by the United States government."

The questionnaire, or rumors of it, have circulated among (mostly) conservative types since 1994. Limbaugh dealt with it. The John Birch Society dealt with it. Internet chat groups and alarmist websites have had a field day with it. Those who know the context for the questionnaire have long since moved on to more proximate threats to liberty. Those who don't know keep it alive as part of that big heap of evidence that we'd all better start digging bunkers, stockpiling artillery, and buying onyx.

So here's the context. The survey was devised by a U.S. Navy lieutenant commander to gather data for his master's thesis. He eventually received an M.S. degree in manpower, personnel, and training analysis at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. Some of the questions were based on scenarios that would be illegal. Part of the commander's interest, he says, was to judge the average soldier's awareness of the Constitution and other U.S. laws relating to troop assignments and commands.

So, Fred, there's your story. Most of the furor has died down by now, except in Maryland and Greenville, KY, apparently. Probably no troops heading for your cozy casita in O.B. to grab your grenade launchers. Or your onyx.

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