Critics: Iowa terror drill portrays immigration foes as killershttp://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20110324/NEWS/110324009/Critics-Iowa-terror-drill-portrays-immigration-foes-as-killers?odyssey=tabFoes of illegal immigration are up in arms over plans for a weekend disaster exercise in western Iowa with a fictitious scenario in which young white supremacists shoot dozens of people amid rising tensions involving racial minorities and illegal immigrants.
The exercise is planned for Saturday at Treynor High School in Pottawattamie County and will involve more than 300 people, confirmed Doug Reed, the lead exercise planner for the county's emergency management agency. Some 30 to 40 "victims" will be transported to area hospitals. He said a terrorism scenario is required by federal officials for the exercise to be eligible for funding.The exercise scenario describes shootings occurring after rising tensions in the community because of an influx of minorities, Reed said.
The newcomers, some who are American citizens and some who are illegal immigrants, were to have moved into a rural area from urban areas in search of more-affordable living. The newcomers are not welcomed by racial extremists, and controversy sweeps the community, he said.
One of the fictional suspects involved in the shootings is described an 18-year-old white male with a quick-tempered father who is a firearms enthusiast
with ties to an underground white supremacy group. A second fictional suspect is described as an isolated 17-year-old white male
student who was befriended by the older student and who mimics his new friend.
Craig Halverson of Griswold, national director of the Minuteman Patriots, an activist group that opposes illegal immigration, said today he is concerned that the exercise is intended to portray people who legally possess guns and who fight illegal immigration as extremists
. Members of his organization, as well as members of the Tea Party Patriots and the 9/12 Project, are calling and emailing Iowa's elected officials to voice their objections, he said.
"We are trying to get this stopped because all it is doing is building up prejudices by calling people white supremacists and stuff like that," Halverson said. "We are mad at the government for ignoring illegal immigration, but nobody is going to run out there and start killing people in Iowa or anything like that."
Robert Ussery of Des Moines, state director of the Iowa Minutemen activist group, said he believes the exercise will defame patriot organization members by depicting t hem as criminals. Ussery is among many members of patriot groups who have read a copy of the exercise plan that has been circulating through email groups.
"Most of the people who break the law and are involved in school shootings don't quote the Constitution or love their country," Ussery said. "Most of the people who I am involved with feel that in order to fix the situation we need to change the laws and work lawfully within the system."
Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for Gov. Terry Branstad, said the plans for Saturday's event are a local decision using federal funds. "The governor's office is not involved with this exercise," he added. Officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., didn't immediately respond today to a request for comment.