So, who is this weird “Tennessee Task Force on National and Homeland Security” claiming it has a “mandate” from the Tennessee legislature in its fundraising letters and on its website?
The group in fundraising literature describes itself as a “non-profit publicly funded and operated body with a mandate endorsed by Members of the Tennessee State Legislature to protect the citizens of Tennessee from the existential threat posed by various acts of terrorism.”
The legislature, for its part, is distancing itself from the group, saying,
[…] the group “does not function in any official capacity.”
[…] it would be “erroneous” to claim the group had been endorsed by the General Assembly.
As an side, I’m curious, what do they mean by “publicly funded and operated”? Do they get public appropriations? Or are they saying they get money from the general public? I ask because on their website they say they are,
[…] a non-profit privately funded body with a mandate endorsed by Members of the Tennessee State Legislature to protect the citizens of Tennessee from the existential threat posed by key terroist entities.
Which one is it? Privately-funded or publicly-funded? Do they even know?
I wanted to know more about this strange group that doesn’t know where its money (or mandate) comes from. Let’s ask the Great Gazoogle. Here’s a story from March of this year in which they held a private “briefing” for legislators. Their spokesperson is Jeff Hartline, the Tea Party wackaloon who unsuccessfully ran for Jim Cooper’s Congressional seat:
The group is chaired by Jonna Z. Bianco, formerly the vice president and director of the congressional Electromagnetic Pulse Caucus.
Yes, I’ll stop you right there, buckaroo. The Electromagnetic Pulse Caucus is a delusional sci-fi conspiracy popular with the WingNut Daily crowd. As Salon.com explains it, the fear is that some Dr. Evil-type will detonate a nuclear weapon in the upper atmosphere, which:
[…] sends gamma rays flying in all directions, which produce high-energy electrons, which create an electromagnetic pulse that will damage electronic systems. According to the Federation of American Scientists, to create an EMP that would affect the entire country, the malefactor in question would have to detonate a “large device” some 400-500 kilometers over Wichita – roughly the altitude at which the International Space Station orbits earth.
Alrighty then. So maybe technically possible but realistically bullshit. So this is the group “briefing” our Tennessee state legislators in a closed-door meeting to which the media were excluded. Why am I not encouraged that the legislature is making very weak noises about not being associated with these crazies? The fact that they’re even listening to what they have to say is alarming enough. And they do seem to have found a kindred spirit in notorious Agenda 21 wackaloon Rick Womick.
From the March Nashville Post story:
Legislators said, off the record, after the closed meeting the information shared by the task force was interesting, but some details appeared taken out of context.
Hartline said aspects of the group’s message include organized crime, illegal weapons transferred in and out of the state, human trafficking, and electromagnetic pulse devices. “That’s a piece of it,” Hartline said about EMPs, “because that does present a clear and present danger to the ongoing of commerce in Tennessee.”
In 2013, state Rep. Rick Womick claimed in a legislative hearing that an electromagnetic pulse bomb was set off outside of Shelbyville, an attack local authorities said they had no record of.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
So who is Jonna Z. Bianco, this group’s “chair”? Again, to the Great Gazoogle:
Jonna Bianco is the president and founder of the American Bondholders Foundation (ABF), an organization that seeks to hold the People’s Republic of China accountable for its debt obligations to U.S. investors dating back to the first half of the 20th Century.
Ms. Bianco brings an encyclopedic understanding of this matter, and achieving liquidity for ABF’s bondholders has been her sole professional focus since 2001.
She also sits on the following related boards:
• United States Congress’s EMP Caucus “Task Force on National and Homeland Security”
• Prague Security Studies Institute (Czech Republic)
• Prague Security Studies Institute (Washington D.C.)
• National Defense University Foundation
• Center for Security Policy (Washington D.C.)
• Tennessee Freedom Coalition (Nashville, Tennessee)
These are interesting groups. The Tennessee Freedom Coalition has been labeled an anti-Muslim hate group by the SPLC. The Center for Security Policy is Frank Gaffney’s fearmongering anti-Muslim organization. See a pattern here? The rest are some lower-tier Neocon think tanks and free-market groups operating on the fringes of the foreign policy apparatus. What’s interesting is that I couldn’t find any supporting documentation that Bianco actually sits on some of these defense boards. However, I did find this interesting lawsuit related to her work with the American Bondholders Foundation.
This “Tennessee Task Force on National and Homeland Security” is starting to exude a strong stench of merde. Yes, kids, I’m starting to think the whole thing may be an elaborate scam. And it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a Tea Party-affiliated group was just an elaborate money-grubbing hoax.
I’m not sure we’re any clearer on who the Tennessee Task Force on National and Homeland Security is. Quite honestly, I’m not sure even they know who they are. One thing I’ve learned about the Tea Party is that organizationally it is like a hydra that continually spawns new crazy groups with which to fleece the gullible. And that’s exactly what this group looks like: a bunch of tin-foil hat paranoiac grifters who will ultimately embarrass this state worse than Jade Helm 15 has tarnished Texas.