Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama and Assassination Threats


Denver: In Curious Case, "Authorities" Inexplicably Downplay Obama Assassination Threat by Armed and Ready Meth Heads
by Meg White
28 August 2008
A Buzzflash News Analysis
Though one of them is on tape saying he told federal officials his friend planned on assassinating Sen. Barack Obama with a high-powered rifle during the presidential nominee's acceptance speech in Denver this evening, the three men arrested Sunday will not be charged with threatening an assassination.
The plot began to unfurl Sunday morning after a routine traffic stop of Tharin Gartrell, who was found to have weapons, drugs, and other illegal materials in the rented vehicle he was driving. Gartrell then led authorities to hotel rooms where two others implicated in the plot, Shawn Robert Adolf and Nathan Johnson, were also arrested.
After what they call an "intensive" investigation lasting only a couple of days, the FBI and Secret Service say there is no real threat to Obama, and that no related charges will be brought in the case. U.S. Attorney Troy Eid seemed to say that because the men were on drugs, they shouldn't be taken as a serious threat:
"From a legal standpoint, the law recognizes a difference between a true threat and the racist rantings of drug abusers."
So just because these people were drug users means they couldn't possibly have carried out a killing? Seems to me, meth users kill a lot of people. Eid admitted that judgment is impaired in meth users.
"A bunch of meth heads get together, we don't know why they do what they do," Eid said. "People do lots of stupid things on meth."
According to a report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, figures on meth use and violence are closely correlated:
"Every community with a methamphetamine abuse problem has experienced violence
in some form, most commonly appearing as domestic disputes. For example, police
in Contra Costa County, California, report that methamphetamine is involved in
almost 90 percent of the domestic dispute cases investigated by that agency. The
extreme agitation and paranoia associated with use of the stimulant often lead
to situations where violence is more likely to occur. Chronic use of
methamphetamine can cause delusions and auditory hallucinations that precipitate
violent behavior or response."
In an era where a drunk bar patron raving against the continued existence of a president or candidate could be picked up and questioned by the Secret Service without the bat of an eyelash, anyone should be seriously concerned by a driver in Denver hauling the following:
"...two high-powered rifles, including one with telescopic sights, along with radios, wigs, a bullet-proof vest, a high-magnification spotting scope, three identifications not belonging to Mr. Gartrell, and 44 grams of the stimulant methamphetamine. One rifle had a threaded barrel so that it could be fitted with a silencer."
Sounds like a classic assassination kit. The fact that it was only uncovered after a chance traffic stop is troubling.
One of the men arrested even said that the evidence in the hands of federal investigators undoubtedly pointed to an assassination plot. In a local news interview from jail, Nathan Johnson said that when he was faced with the facts, he had to admit it sure looked like his associates planned on assassinating Obama during the acceptance speech.
"With everything laid out on the table, I could see how it was possible that they could go through with it," Johnson said. When asked how he came to the conclusion that his friends were in Denver specifically to assassinate Obama, Johnson said, "I'm basing it off of the information that the feds gave me."
"When the feds came in and laid everything out that had taken place," Johnson said, "I could see from their vantage point how, okay, yeah: There was the possibility that they were here to do it, and I said 'yes' to those comments."
Yet no charges will be filed. In similar circumstances, some offenders face jail time.
Just earlier this month, the Secret Service arrested a young Miami man and charged him with verbally threatening Obama's life. Raymond Hunter Geisel faces up to five years in prison for talking about, without any evidence of planning, an assassination attempt on Obama. In fact, some who know him have said he poses no threat, while others postulated that he meant he wanted to kill Osama bin Laden instead.
The men arrested Sunday are also said to have ties with the white supremacist group Aryan Nations and a splinter group called The Order, as well as to a Neo-Nazi biker group called Sons of Silence. The three men were reportedly upset that a black man like Obama might become president.
Aryan Nations did not return a call for comment. But their Web site notes the affiliation of a commando group trained in violence:

"...several members of the Aryan Nations and Robert J. Matthews went on to form
'The Order' -- a group that conducted practical acts of economic sabotage,
assassination and other forms of covert direct action against the tyrannical and
anti-Aryan Zionist system."
The Order has produced murderers in the past. Jason Hamilton, who went on a shooting spree before committing suicide last year was allegedly a member of The Order and, by extension, Aryan Nations.
Writers around the world are noticing the lack of concern and coverage of this story in U.S. media outlets. Some allege the U.S. is afraid of exposing the existence of, or paying undue attention to racists in the country. Others are using the lack of coverage to "prove" outlandish conspiracy theories.
The Associated Press reports that the Secret Service sees the case as the exact opposite:
"In an AP interview last week, the head of the Secret Service's Protective division said the white supremacist threat to Obama has been exaggerated.
'I think that it's something that, at times, the media tried to make more of,' Nick Trotta said. ‘We've always watched them, as we watch all the other groups.'"
There are a couple of reasons for the Secret Service to downplay this event. The fear of publicity bringing out copycat killers is a serious one. Also, the Obama campaign has been doing everything in its power to control the story coming out of Denver this week. With an event as political as a convention, that is an understandable desire, but the three men arrested in Denver this week deserve more scrutiny than they received in this age of heightened security risks.
Racism and the threat of assassination haunt Barack's historic achievementBy Philip Delves Broughton
Last updated at 1:39 AM on 05th June 2008
When Barack Obama speaks at the Democratic Convention on August 28, it will be the 45th anniversary of the day Martin Luther King told America that he 'had a dream' of a more equal country.
King, of course, paid for his dream with an assassin's bullet.
The question now lurking behind every discussion of Obama's campaign is: Will America elect a black man as its President?
It is an uncomfortable question for a country with a particularly troubled history of race relations.
Has America changed enough since King made that epoch-changing speech? Or will the electorate, or more terrifyingly, another assassin, block his path?

Presidential race: Is America ready to vote Barack Obama and his wife Michelle into the White House?
The facts are not propitious. Obama received secret service protection earlier than any other presidential candidate in history, because of threats to his life.
For almost a year, he has been protected 24 hours a day. Organisations which track white supremacist websites and communications reported a surge in activity as Obama's candidacy took flight.
A magazine in Macon, Georgia, recently printed a cover showing Obama in the crosshairs of a rifle sight.
The accompanying article quoted one white supremacist saying 'some idiot out there's going to put a bullet in that silver-tongued devil and then there'll be a race war.
'There are some in our movement who are preparing for a war, praying for it.'
Hillary Clinton even stoked these fears about Obama just last month.
Asked why she was staying in the campaign, she said: 'We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.'
If Obama fell, was the implication, she would be there to pick up the nomination.
However tasteless Clinton's calculation, Americans agree with her about the risk to Obama.
Recent polls show that 59 per cent of the American public feared an attempt on Obama's life if he became the Democrats' presidential nominee.
Then there are stealthier forms of prejudice. During the Democratic primary elections, 14 per cent of white voters said that race was important to them in choosing their candidate and 6 per cent said they would not vote for him against Republican John McCain because he is black – and that is only those who would admit to such prejudice.
Pollsters know that many people express more liberal beliefs in public than they do in the privacy of the voting booth.
A poll taken in March showed that 13 per cent of American voters believe Obama is Muslim, a misconception fostered by his opponents' frequent referrals to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama.
To the greatest extent possible, Obama has tried to skirt the issue of race by taking the 'Tiger Woods approach'.
The world's number one golfer has always refused to be defined as a black athlete, preferring to create a term he felt more properly reflected his mixed racial origins: 'Cablinasian' – Caucasian, black, American- Indian and Asian.
Obama has similarly sought to emphasise the post-racial dimension to his candidacy.
In a country where so many people are of mixed race, he suggests, it is absurd to label people as black, white, Hispanic or Asian.
He is the son of a white, American mother, and a black, Kenyan father.
He is not descended from the Africans brought to America as slaves, yet he grew up a black in an America deeply conscious of what that implied.
'If you look African-American in our society, you're treated as an African-American,' he said in a television interview.
'And when you're a child that is how you begin to identify yourself.'
But still, he has no wish to be seen as a black candidate, in the way the Reverends Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton did in their presidential campaigns, bemoaning the fate of a poor and minority set against a white majority.
'Will there by some folks who probably won't vote for me because I am black? Of course,' Obama said during the campaign.
'Just like there may be someone who won't vote for Hillary because she's a woman – but the question is, "Can we get a majority of the American people to give us a fair hearing?"'
The only moment he was drawn directly into a debate about race was when the former pastor at his church in Chicago, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, was caught on video calling on God to condemn America for its racism and blaming U.S. policies for the September 11 terrorist attacks. Wright also accused the U.S. government of 'planting' Aids in the black community. Obama responded with a powerful speech about the lingering presence of racism in America.
'Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white,' he said, 'I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy, particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.'
Eventually, under enormous pressure and after another embarrassing, anti-white speech by another pastor, Obama left his church.
Wright's speeches, however, are played incessantly on conservative websites and television programmes by Obama's critics.
Obama's wife, Michelle, did not help matters with her own remarks that her husband's campaign was the first time in her life that she felt proud of her country.
This sparked enormous criticism as Obama's opponents wondered why a woman who rose from humble roots to attend the universities of Princeton and Harvard should feel so hard done by.
The Republicans had found their attack theme: Obama and his wife were classic guilt-ridden liberals, unpatriotic and ungrateful for the opportunities afforded them by America.
Obama's refusal to wear an American flag pin on his jacket, standard for most politicians, compounded the problem. Only recently did he capitulate.
He is also yet to recover from his remarks to supporters in California that poor white voters 'cling to guns and religion' because they are 'bitter'.
It will be tough in the next few months for Obama to shake the strong whiff of elitism and entitlement which clings to his well-cut suits.
Republican campaigners have rarely missed an opportunity to stoke the racist fears of voters.
In 1988, George Bush Snr's campaign ran advertisements against the Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis showing a black murderer whom Dukakis had allowed out on parole, during which he committed armed robbery and rape.
The advertisement was credited with helping Bush overturn Dukakis's huge poll lead and win the White House.
Obama makes a juicy target for the spin machine of the Republican party. Even within his own party, Obama must fend off attacks by those who feel he that exploited his race to defeat a woman candidate.
Geraldine Ferraro, the Democrats' first and only woman vice-presidential nominee, wrote a scathing piece last week saying that Obama's candidacy had left many white voters worried that they would suffer under his presidency for being white.
Blacks, in essence, would have their revenge and reverse the racism they have suffered for centuries.
When Obama says 'our time has come', she wrote, these whites feel 'he is telling them that their time has passed'.
Evidence from the campaign trail certainly points to deep racial hostility to the front runner.
In Marietta, Georgia, a bar owner has been doing a brisk trade selling Tshirts showing Obama as a monkey eating a banana.
Obama campaign workers in many states have complained of having doors slammed in their faces along with streams of racial slurs.
In Indiana, a local Obama campaign office was broken into at night and spray-painted with messages such as 'Hamas votes BHO [Barack Hussein Obama]' and 'We don't cling to guns or religion'.
It is not just Obama's race which may trouble voters, but also his inexperience. He arrived on the national scene only in 2004 when he was elected to the Senate. Just three years later, he was running for president.
Despite having written two autobiographical books, there is still much about him that America wants to know.
His legislative record is desperately thin compared to that of his rival John McCain.
And there is also anxiety that he simply lacks the experience to be president – an accusation, his supporters like to say, once levelled at John F Kennedy.
Are there more Reverend Wright issues in Obama's past? Are there any more dubious friends, along the lines of the shady Chicago businessman, Tony Rezko, who helped him with the purchase of his house?
How deep does Michelle Obama's sense of chippiness run? And what kind of First Lady will she make?
After eight years of the demure Laura Bush, is the country ready for another firebrand lawyer in the Hillary Clinton mould sitting by her husband's side?
As the champagne corks were swept away at Obama headquarters yesterday morning, these questioned lingered.
And as the security cordon around Obama was intensified, it was both a validation of his new, historic status, and a stark reminder of the lethal risks his candidacy now faces.

Man accused in Obama threat appears in court on crutches, advised of methamphetamine charge
By DON MITCHELL Associated Press Writer
4:28 PM CDT, August 28, 2008

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado man suspected of making racist threats against Barack Obama limped into federal court on crutches Thursday and was formally advised of a methamphetamine-possession charge against him.
Therin Gartrell, 28, was arrested Sunday, just before the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Authorities said he was pulled over in the suburb of Aurora in a rented truck that contained rifles, a bulletproof vest, wigs and fake IDs, and that Gartrell and two other men had talked about killing Obama.
The U.S. attorney's office later said the men were drug users who made racist threats but had no firm assassination plot and no ability to carry one out. No one has been charged in relation to the alleged threats. Aurora police say Gartrell had been on crutches when they arrested him. Handcuffed to his crutches in court Thursday, he spoke little and did not enter a plea.
Public defender Ed Harris was appointed to represent him. Harris was not present and did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.
Arapahoe County prosecutors had planned to charge Gartrell Thursday with state drug and weapons violations, but that was put on hold without explanation.
U.S. attorney's spokesman Jeff Dorschner said it was "best from a coordination standpoint" if the cases against Gartrell and the two other men were in federal court.
State prosecutors sometimes defer to their federal counterparts if a suspect can get a stiffer sentence in federal court.
A federal conviction for methamphetamine possession carries a prison term of up to two years with no time off for good behavior. Penalties under the state charges were not immediately available.

The two other men arrested in the case are Shawn Adolf and Nathan Johnson. Both face federal firearms and drug charges. Dorschner said neither is expected to appear in court this week.

Arrests in Plan to Kill Obama and Black Schoolchildren By ERIC LICHTBLAU
Published: October 27, 2008
WASHINGTON — Two young men who are believers in “white power” have been arrested and charged in Tennessee in what federal officials described as a plan to assassinate Senator Barack Obama and kill black children at a school.
Associated Press
Daniel Cowart of Bells, Tenn., was one of two men charged in what officials called a white supremacist assassination plot.
Federal officials said they regarded the scheme as “serious.” It does not appear to have moved to an advanced stage, according to court documents unsealed Monday, but officials said the two men did acquire several rifles and cased a home and a gun store to rob as part of the plan.
Federal officials said that both of the men who were arrested — Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Ark., and Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn. — told interrogators that they had talked of assassinating Mr. Obama. Lawyers for the men could not be reached.
The two men “planned to drive their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows,” according to an affidavit filed in federal court in Jackson, Tenn., by an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Mr. Obama has no plans to be in Tennessee, and the affidavit does not make clear whether the men had picked a place for an attack.
The assassination was to be the culmination of a “killing spree” that would also single out children at an unnamed, predominately black school, federal officials said. The men talked of “killing 88 people and beheading 14 African-Americans,” according to the affidavit.
The two men each had “very strong views” about Aryan white power and “skinhead” ideology, the federal officials said, and the numbers 88 and 14 have special significance in the white power movement. The number 88 is shorthand for “Heil, Hitler” — H is the eighth letter in the alphabet —and 14 signifies a 14-word mantra among white supremacists: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
Officials said the two men met via the Internet through a mutual friend.
Concerns about possible plots against Mr. Obama have been acute because of his status as the first black presidential nominee from a major party. He has had Secret Service protection since May 2007, the earliest a candidate was ever assigned protection.
Mr. Cowart and Mr. Schlesselman were each charged with illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a firearms dealer and making threats against a presidential candidate. A detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Memphis.
“We honestly don’t know if they had the capability or the wherewithal to carry out the kind of plan that they talked about,” Malcolm Wiley, a spokesman for the Secret Service in Washington, said in an interview. “But we take any threat seriously no matter how big or how small it is.”
Neo-Nazi Obama Plot One of "A Handful" of "Serious" Threats Against Obama
Secret Service Reports Record Number of Assassination Threats
By Richard Esposito and Brian Rosso
October 28, 2008
The arrests Monday in an alleged neo-Nazi assassination plot against Sen. Barack Obama involve one of a handful of serious threats against the Democratic presidential candidate, federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News.
The officials say Obama has been the target of well over 500 threats, most of which are not taken seriously.
But in an estimated dozen or so cases, the threat was considered serious enough that law enforcement agents were assigned to track down suspects.
Threats of violence, harsh invective, language such as "get rid of" or "kill" or "eliminate" are all considered triggers for possible investigation, officials say.
But in only a handful of cases, did the threat, after being run down by United States Secret Service, have the elements that warranted it to be taken extremely seriously.
The methamphetamine-fueled plot against Obama that surfaced during the Democratic convention in Denver is considered by law enforcement officials to be a good example of the kind of ill-conceived, unlikely-to-succeed threat that nevertheless involved high-powered rifles and disguises.
It was only because of a traffic stop arrest that the plot was discovered, authorities say.
In the case of today's arrests in Crockett County, Tennessee, it was a burglary in progress run that led law enforcement to uncover the twisted plan to assassinate Obama.
Officials said the two Tennessee men arrested, Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, told the Secret Service they first planned to kill 102 African Americans and then "dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt" of Obama. Authorities say both men have strong racist views and met on the internet through the website of a white supremacist neo-Nazi group called the Supreme White Alliance (SWA).
Morris Dees, the founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Alabama, says that the "extremely violent skin head" group has chapters now in six states and a couple of foreign countries. "They believe there is going to be an uprising of white people in American," said Dees, "and if they can kill Obama, it will bring on the white revolution."
The Supreme White Alliance Responds
In response to SPLC claims that Cowart and Schlesslman are tied to the SWA, SWA issued a statement saying, "The Southern Poverty Law Center has lied again. Stating on their website that the two young men arrested yesterday on charges accusing them of plotting to assassinate the presidential candidate Barak Oboma (sic) and go on some sort of killing spree are tied to the SWA. One of the young men was in fact a probate earlier this year but was ousted by the SWA before the SWA had a president. Since this time none of the SWA members have had any contact with the accused. So before you get your story wrong, (SPLC) get the facts."
In a few cases that the Secret Service has investigated, one individual has written hundreds of threat letters in an effort to capture the candidate's attention, officials say.
In another case dismissed as not serious, the individual making the threat tried to repeatedly call the director of the Secret Service to register the threat.
Officials say there have been far fewer threats against Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.
Each candidate has a security detail of equal size, considered a "vice-presidential level" size, according to law enforcement officials. Secret Service agents are augmented by a heavy presence of state and local police, but in uniform and undercover.
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