Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Obama Assassination Plot and/or Meth Bust: Close Call in Colorado

Update October 28, 2008

Related Post:
Looks like some white people were going to kill Barack Obama.

Or, a bunch of meth-heads with guns and scrambled minds picked 'kill Obama' out of the swirling chaos in their heads.

Or, something else was going on in Colorado, near the Democratic National Convention.

Update: Threat probably rooted in racism and more 'aspirational than operational,'... "

The fact is that several people were arrested in Colorado yesterday, with meth. And, what put this in the national news, firearms that included a sniper rifle. And, for at least one of them, a stated intention to kill Barack Obama.

Of course, that could be the meth talking.

The FBI is being sensibly cautious. An FBI spokesman assigned to the Denver Democratic National Convention said: "This is a methamphetamine and firearms case that arose from a traffic stop made by an Aurora Police officer," which is true. And, may make prosecution of attempted murder charges possible later. The way American justice works, defense lawyers love it when law enforcement accuses suspects without solid evidence.

On the other hand, nobody seems eager to let this bunch loose. For which I'm duly grateful.

After seeing photos of the suspects, I wasn't surprised to discover that they're thought to be tied to white supremacists.

Muslims Have No Monopoly on Fanaticism

Any group - Whites, Muslims, video game players - are going to have fanatics in their number. Fanatic video game players may never threaten western civilization: apart from overloading the health care system with carpal tunnel injuries.

Violent individuals and groups like white supremacists and Muslim terrorists, on the other hand, are real threats.

That doesn't mean that all Muslims are terrorists, or all Americans with melanin deficiency are white supremacists, any more than all American blacks were members of the Black Panthers, forty years ago.

Terrorism is an Equal-Opportunity Destroyer

Right now, the most obvious terrorists are Muslims who think that anyone their imam doesn't like should be dead. My guess - and hope - is that this is as representative of Islam, as the KKK is of Christianity, or Timothy (Oklahoma City) McVeigh is of rural white people.

The point is that people who destroy buildings with other people still inside are dangerous: whether they're (maybe) part of a militia, or part of Al Qaeda.

I think that Colorado and federal law enforcement is taking sensible steps with Sunday morning's meth-and-guns bust. The suspects are still in custody, the claims they made about wanting to kill Obama are being taken seriously. On the other hand, they're not taking former Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong as their role model.

I also think that the odds are good that the lot arrested yesterday was planning to kill Barack Obama. Particularly since one of them said they were, and another expressed the opinion that a black man shouldn't be president.

These are, in all probability, very dangerous people who should not be allowed to roam around.

But I'm not going to assume that they are white supremacist racist assassins, until we know a bit more. Quite a bit more.

There's a press conference this afternoon, about the possible Obama assassination plot. Maybe we'll learn more then.
On a related topic: the American Presidential election is coming up. Get ready for misinformation, disinformation, and just plain stupid talk. "Online dirty tricks may mar U.S. elections " (CNN (August 26, 2008)) points out that the Internet makes it easier than ever to spread facts, half-truths, lies, and crazy ideas.

I sincerely hope that Americans who vote take a little time to think about what they read: and not make up their minds based on what some guy said he read in an email that some other guy forwarded.
Possible Obama assassination attempt, still a developing story, in the news:
  • "Obama Assassination Attempt Possible Attack on Race or Resistance to Change"
    Associated Content (August 26, 2008 )
    • "Police in Colorado, the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are investigating a possible Barack Obama assassination attempt. Aurora, Colorado police arrested 3 men and a woman on drug and weapons charges Sunday. Three of the arrests occurred as the result of a vehicle stop; evidence uncovered in the vehicle led police to a hotel room where a fourth suspect jumped from a fourth floor window to avoid being taken into custody. The suspects in the alleged Obama assassination atttempt are believed to be linked to a white supremacist organization...."
  • "Nevada Man Accused in Obama Assassination Plot"
    Las Vegas Now (August 26, 2008)
    • "A Nevada man sits in the Denver jail, along with three others, accused of plotting to kill Senator Barack Obama.
    • "Police arrested 28-year-old Tharin Gartrell of Lincoln County early Sunday for driving erratically in a Denver suburb. But what they found in his rented pickup is what landed him in jail.
    • "Police found two high-powered scoped rifles, a bulletproof vest, two wigs, a gun scope, and three identity cards with other people's names. Police also discovered methamphetamine in Gartrell's car.
    • "Police believe Gartrell was involved in a plot to assassinate Senator Obama during his acceptance speech Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. That's when the FBI stepped in and arrested three other people in a nearby hotel. Thirty-three-year-old Shaun Adolf, 32-year-old Nathan Johnson and Natasha Gromek are also in a Denver jail.
    • "Johnson spoke to a Denver television station and said this regarding Adolf and the rationale behind the assassination plot.
    • " 'He made a comment in the past and I cannot tell you exactly when, but he said he didn't believe a black should be a leader of this country,' Johnson said...."
  • "Feds Investigate Possible Obama Assassination Plot in Denver"
    FOXNews (August 26, 2008)
    • "Three men arrested in Aurora, Colo., on methamphetamine and firearms charges may have been plotting to assassinate Barack Obama, FBI authorities told FOX News late Monday, although local officials are still pondering the intent of the suspects.
    • "Aurora Police Detective Marcus Dudley identified Tharin Gartrell, 28, as one suspect pulled over for a routine traffic stop Sunday and found to be wanted on numerous warrants. Two rifles, including a sniper rifle, and methamphetamines were found in the car.
    • "KCNC in Denver reported that Gartrell led police to a hotel in Glendale, where a second man, who police did not identify, tried to jump out a six-story window. He landed on an awning and took off, but broke his ankle. He was eventually taken into custody and a third man was also arrested.
    • "The men may have ties to Sons of Silence, an outlaw biker group, and are believed to have connections with white supremacists. Federal sources said this incident may have had more to do with methamphetamine than with any plot to assassinate Obama, but local police did not say why they connected the men to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
    • "Federal officials said verbal threats against Obama were made, but were not considered credible...."
  • "Plot to Kill Obama: Shoot From High Vantage Point"
    KCNC / cbs4denver
    • "Denver's U.S. attorney is expected to speak on Tuesday afternoon about the arrests of four people suspected in a possible plot to shoot Barack Obama at his Thursday night acceptance speech in Denver. All are being held on either drug or weapons charges.
    • "One of those suspects spoke exclusively to CBS4 investigative reporter Brian Maass from inside the Denver City Jail late Monday night and said his friends had discussed killing Obama.
    • " 'So your friends were saying threatening things about Obama?' Maass asked.
    • " 'Yeah,' Nathan Johnson replied.
    • " 'It sounded like they didn't want him to be president?'
    • " 'Well, no,' Johnson said.
    • "Maass reported earlier Monday that one of the suspects told authorities they were 'going to shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a ... rifle ... sighted at 750 yards.'
    • "Law enforcement sources told Maass that one of the suspects 'was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama. He responded in the affirmative.'
    • "The story began emerging Sunday morning when Aurora police arrested Tharin Gartrell, 28. He was driving a rented pickup truck in an erratic manner, according to sources...."

Update August 26, 2008

A little over 24 hours after the traffic stop that led to a drugs-and-guns arrest, more details are coming out:
  • "U.S. Attorney: Threat against Obama not 'operational' "
    CNN (August 26, 2008)
    • "DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- There is not enough evidence to conclude that three people arrested with drugs and weapons posed a "true threat" to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the Denver U.S. Attorney said Tuesday.
    • " Troy Eid called the suspects 'meth heads' who, because of their drug addiction, were likely not capable of carrying out a plan to hurt Obama.
    • "Their alleged plot to harm Obama was apparently fueled by racism and was more 'aspirational than operational,' Eid said.
    • "The suspects face federal and state charges in connection with the drugs and weapons, according to authorities.
    • "An affidavit filed Tuesday cites an unnamed female informant who notified law enforcement that there was some kind of threat being made against Obama's life...."
  • "Fed official: Colo. men no true threat to Obama"
    International Herald Tribune (August 26, 2008)
    • "DENVER: A group of suspected drug users arrested in Denver this weekend with methamphetamine, guns and bulletproof vests made racist threats against Barack Obama but posed no true danger to the presidential candidate as he accepts the Democratic nomination here this week, federal authorities said Tuesday.
    • "The three men — all said to be high on methamphetamine when arrested — are the subject of an assassination investigation, but so far, authorities say, it appears they had no capacity to carry out any attack on Obama.
    • " 'The law recognizes a difference between a true threat — one that can be carried out — and the reported racist rantings of a drug addict,' U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said.
    • "He said the men's plans were "more aspirational, perhaps, than operational."..."
I was happily surprised to find very little hysteria in the blogosphere.

Okay: I didn't find any. For this sort of thing, I generally do a Google search with terms like 'obama assassination' - and look at what comes up in the first twenty hits.

One reason I limit my search this way, when looking for alternatively-rational material, is laziness - and very real time pressure. Another reason is that I am not looking for an isolated loony, hunched over a keyboard, wearing a tinfoil hat. I look for people with enough of a following, or audience, to generate the traffic and links that Google seems to like.

With the exception of a couple of hits that seemed more intent on generating traffic, than proclaiming sincerely-held beliefs in odd ideas, there was nothing. The closest was an old UK news item about some Nobel Prize winner who thought that those Yanks would shoot Obama: and that Hillary Clinton should be president.

I also found a very interesting op-ed piece, but that's for another post. ("Barack Obama: Upstart Young Whippersnapper?" (August 26, 2008).)

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.