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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) was the first governor to fan the flames of conspiracy theories about whether an upcoming military training program was actually a secret attempt to impose martial law.

But none of the nation's other governors have been quite so willing to jump on the bandwagon.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) even went so far on Thursday as to say Abbott's decision to order the Texas State Guard to monitor the military exercise was "one of the dumbest things" he'd ever heard. (The military has described the exercise as standard special ops training.)

While McAuliffe's state is not among those hosting the exercise, known as "Jade Helm 15," seven other states are. In fact, over the course of planning the multi-state operation, the US military has named 10 states in which the training was supposed to take place. Three of those states — California, Nevada and Colorado — appear to no longer be involved.

Over the past several days, TPM and other news outlets have reached out to the governors whose states were at some point listed as locations for the training, which is scheduled to run from July 15 to Sept. 15.

Here are the responses so far:

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The Pentagon has no plans to stage a military takeover of the Lone Star state. There are no tunnels covertly being constructed under West Texas' shuttered Wal-Mart stores.

So why are the fringes of the Internet still abuzz with rumors that the U.S. military is on the cusp of imposing martial law in "hostile" Texas under the guise of a training exercise dubbed "Jade Helm 15"?

Representatives of the military and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), whose state is expected to host part of the planned training exercise, have sought to tamp down speculation that "Jade Helm 15" is anything other than a standard training exercise.

But a slew of other influential figures in conservative circles have either deliberately or inadvertently given credence to those who buy into the wild conspiracy theories surrounding the upcoming exercise.

Here's a look at who's been stoking the fire:

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A trio of notorious anti-Muslim extremists were behind the provocative "Muhammad art exhibit and cartoon contest" where two gunmen opened fire Sunday in Garland, Texas.

The event, which featured Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders as its keynote speaker, was sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), an organization with the stated objective of combating "capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism" amid all levels of government and the mainstream media. The AFDI is led by president Pamela Geller and vice president Robert Spencer, who've been at the forefront of the anti-Islamic fringe for years, and the group has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Anti-Defamation League also noted that Geller and Spencer's secondary anti-Islam group, Stop Islamization of America, seeks to "rouse public fears about a vast Islamic conspiracy to destroy American values."

"After the Charlie Hebdo massacre – and after the violent Muhammad cartoon riots a few years ago – there should have been Cartoon Exhibits all over the free world, to show the jihadists and their stealth allies in groups that are doing all they can to intimidate the West into abandoning the freedom of speech) that we will not kowtow to violent intimidation," Geller wrote in a blog post announcing the event. "But there were no such exhibits. The free world was ready to submit. But we aren’t."

Matt Duss, who tracked Geller and Spencer for years at the Center for American Progress and now serves as the president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, told TPM in a phone interview Monday that such antics have made Spencer and Geller somewhat pariahs on the right.

“Even among people here in Washington that promulgate these ridiculous claims about the insidious Muslim menace in America, Spencer and Geller are seen as kind of an embarrassment," Duss said.

But Spencer and Geller have found success with grassroots-level events like the Mohammad cartoon contest, he pointed out.

"In Garland, theres a large Muslim-American community that’s been building an Islamic center," Duss explained. "In Geller and Spencer’s telling, Muslim-Americans simply practicing their faith non-violently is part of this mass plot to eventually take over the institutions of the United States."

Here's what you need to know about Geller, Spencer and Wilders' history of anti-Muslim activism.

Pamela Geller

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Twenty months after sending what has to be the most infamous email in New Jersey history -- "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" -- a former aide to Gov. Chris Christie (R), Bridget Anne Kelly, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in Newark on conspiracy and fraud charges in the BridgeGate scandal.

Kelly, who served as Christie's deputy chief of staff until he fired her for "lying" to him about her involvement in lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify for or hand over any documents to a state legislative panel investigating the bridge affair. She remained silent until Friday, when she came out swinging against the federal charges and her former colleagues.

"I will no longer allow the lies that have been told about me in the George Washington Bridge issue to go unchallenged," Kelly said in a news conference with her attorney that proved she is the character to watch in the ongoing legal drama.

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Texas residents were up in arms this week over a planned U.S. military training exercise that's been portrayed in right-wing conspiracy theory circles as everything from a ploy to confiscate Americans' guns to an excuse to abduct political dissidents.

The speculation reached such a fever pitch that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday asked the State Guard to monitor the exercise so that "that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed."

Residents' fears can be traced back to a "leaked" slideshow presentation that outlined the operation's goals and logistics and made the rounds on the fringe of the conservative blogosphere. The document was posted by the conspiracy theory website All News Pipeline to the document sharing site Scribd in March under the headline "Jade Helm Martial Law WW3 Prep Document 1." As of Thursday, it had been viewed more than 2.1 million times.

The document contained a map that labelled certain states, including Texas and Utah, as "hostile." So it comes as no surprise that rumors about a possible military takeover would run rampant among anti-federalists and conspiracy theorists.

It's worth noting that Brazos Valley, Texas radio station WFAW actually posted the U.S. Army's slideshow presentation back in February when county commissioners approved the military's request to conduct the training exercise. The document posted by WFAW varies slightly in content and length from the slideshow cited by conspiracy websites.

The training exercise is scheduled to last from July 15 to Sept. 15 in Texas and six other states, according to a release from the U.S. Army.

"The public can expect nothing much different from their day-to-day activities since much of exercise will be conducted in remote areas," the release read. "The most noticeable effect the exercise may have on the local communities is an increase in vehicle and military air traffic and its associated noise. There will also be economic gain: an increase in the local economy, in fuel and food purchases and hotel lodging."

The military's official statements on "Jade Helm 15" have done little to quiet anti-government fear-mongering, though. Here are the wildest rumors about the training exercise that are floating around the fringes of the Internet.

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The white freakout over college students grappling with "the problem of whiteness” has just found a new target.

TPM previously reported on an Arizona State University course about "the problem of whiteness" that rose to national attention in January, prompting neo-Nazi types and white supremacists to threaten the professor teaching it.

The course also angered a white nationalist group, which put up flyers in the professor’s neighborhood labeling him as “Anti-White" and protested on campus to demand that the university administration fire him. Now that group, the National Youth Front, has turned its attention to a bulletin board campaign mentioning "white privilege" at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.

The bulletin board aimed to get passing students to reflect on whether they benefit from white, male, class, Christian, cisgender, heterosexual or able-bodied privilege. Strikingly, news of the bulletin board bubbled up through the conservative blogosphere and made its way to Fox News before it came across the National Youth Front's radar. The group set its sights on the "problem of whiteness" class after conservative media shined a spotlight on it, too.

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