Docstoc

2008_Barack_Obama_assassination_scare_in_Denver

Document Sample
2008_Barack_Obama_assassination_scare_in_Denver Powered By Docstoc
					From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Denver

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Denver
Investigation and arrests

Images of would-be Barack Obama assassins Tharin Gartrell, Nathan Johnson and Shawn Adolf from an MSNBC news report. The 2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Denver refers to an alleged plot by Shawn Robert Adolf, Tharin Robert Gartrell and Nathan Dwaine Johnson to assassinate Barack Obama, then the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nominee. The trio planned to shoot Obama with a highpowered rifle during the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. The three men discussed the assassination based on their reported white supremacist belief that an African American should not be elected President of the United States. Gartrell was arrested August 24 and found to be in possession of rifles and other weaponry; Adolf and Johnson were arrested shortly thereafter. In a televised interview after his arrest, Johnson identified Adolf as the man who allegedly hatched the assassination plot and planned to be the shooter. Although suspected white supremacist associations led federal authorities to investigate possible ties to a larger group, authorities later downplayed the three would-be shooters as drug addicts who had little chance of actually carrying out the plot. The three men were charged with drug and weapons charges, but not for threatening a presidential candidate.

The three would-be assassins planned to shoot Barack Obama during his acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Tharin Gartrell, 28; his cousin Shawn Robert Adolf, 33; and their friend Nathan Johnson, 32, came to Denver, Colorado in August 2008 specifically to kill then-Senator Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention. The men came to Denver before Obama arrived there[1] and checked into a room at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center, where they mistakenly believed Obama was staying; in fact, Obama was staying at a different hotel downtown.[2] Federal authorities began an investigation into the trio after they made alleged racist threats against Obama while taking methamphetamine in the hotel room.[3] A woman present for their conversation, who was not identified by an affidavit, told Colorado State Patrol officers they "could not believe how close he was to becoming President."[4] She claimed they spoke about killing the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, and that Adolf allegedly said, "No nigger should ever live in the White House."[5] A woman in the group said it would be a "suicide mission"[2] and it would be best done by hiding a gun inside a hollowed-out television video camera, like in the 1992 Kevin Costner movie, The Bodyguard.[2] Security had already been tight around Obama due to lowgrade fears of possible assassination threats

1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
against the first African American major party presidential candidate.[6][7] Authorities did not identify the woman who informed on the trio, nor did they disclose whether she was charged with a crime.[3] Gartrell was reportedly going out to buy cigarettes when he was arrested at about 1:30 a.m. on August 24.[8] Police in Aurora, Colorado, a suburb east of Denver, pulled over his rented 2008 blue Dodge Ram truck, which was swerving erratically.[9] Police found a Ruger Model M77 Mark II 22-250 bolt-action rifle with an attached scope and bipod, and a Remington Model 721 270 boltaction rifle with an attached hunting scope; one of the rifles was fitted with a silencer.[1] Police also found two wigs, three fake IDs, camouflage clothing, a bulletproof vest, two walkie-talkies and 4.4 grams of what appeared to be methamphetamine in the truck.[3][10] The truck contained enough drug-making equipment for the vehicle to be considered "a mobile lab."[8] At least one of the rifles was stolen.[9] Gartrell was high on methamphetamine when arrested, and was found to be driving on a suspended license[3] and carrying a false Colorado identification card with a Centennial, Colorado address.[9] Gartrell was using crutches at the time of his arrest.[11] "He don’t belong in political office. Blacks don’t belong in political office. He ought to be shot." —Nathan Johnson[3] Gartrell told an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that the weapons belonged to his cousin Adolf,[1] and he led police to Adolf and Johnson at their hotels. Johnson was arrested at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center[2] at about 4:30 a.m. Adolf was arrested at the Cherry Creek Hotel in Glendale at about 5 a.m. Adolf jumped out of a sixth-story hotel window when police arrived; he fell four stories onto the second-floor roof of the hotel kitchen, then jumped again onto the ground around the hotel. He broke his ankle in the fall, but tried to run before police found him a short distance away. Adolf was hospitalized shortly after his arrest.[9] Adolf was wearing body armor at the time of his arrest; he told police this was because "someone wanted to shoot him."[8] Like Gartrell, Johnson and Adolf were found to be high on methamphetamine during their arrest. During interviews with

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Denver
police, both men made racist statements similar to those allegedly made in their earlier hotel room discussions.[3] One of the women present for the Obama assassination discussions at the Hyatt hotel room told police she believed Adolf was affiliated with the Sons of Silence motorcycle club.[12] Adolf allegedly was wearing a Sons of Silence T-shirt during or prior to his arrest. In a press statement, the Sons of Silence denied any such connection or knowledge of the three men in general, and pointed out the shirts can be purchased by anyone on their website.[13]

Johnson implicates Adolf

Footage of Nathan Johnson’s interview with KCNC-TV from an August 26, 2008 report by The Early Show. Johnson told the United States Secret Service he rented the Hyatt hotel room at Adolf’s request and that he believed "without a doubt"[2] that Adolf came to Denver to kill Obama; according to a police affidavit, "Johnson said the only reason for such killing would be because Obama is black."[2] During an August 25 interview with KCNC-TV, a CBS owned-and-operated television station in Denver, Johnson first denied being personally involved with the plot and, when asked whether he felt the men had serious plans to go through with the assassination, he said, "Looking back at it, I don’t want to say yes, but I don’t want to say no."[3][10][14] Eventually, however, he admitted the other two men had planned a killing when he said, "Yeah, they were here to do that, to assassinate him... it’s about as hard for me to swallow as it is for you to understand."[4] Johnson said the plan was for Adolf to, "shoot Obama from a high vantage point using a...rifle...sighted

2

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
at 750 yards"[9][10] on August 28, the day of his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in INVESCO Field at Mile High. Johnson told the station, "He don’t belong in political office. Blacks don’t belong in political office. He ought to be shot."[3][10][14] Johnson said Adolf previously made comments about killing any African American who ran for president: "He made a comment in the past. I can’t honestly tell you how long ago in the past, that he didn’t believe a black should be the leader of this country."[4] According to Johnson, Adolf said he was already wanted for other crimes, so it "wouldn’t matter if he killed Obama."[8] Johnson also claimed Adolf said he would never be taken alive and wanted to "go down in a blaze of glory."[8] Law enforcement sources also told KCNC-TV that one of the suspects "was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama. He responded in the affirmative."[14] Johnson said Gartrell came to Denver to help Adolf execute the plan, and Gartrell later admitted to police that in talking about Obama, there was a reference to "shooting on a grassy knoll," a reference to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.[15] An arrest warrant read, "Adolf said that he wanted to kill Obama and additionally stated that he would specifically use a sniper rifle and high powered scope, and find high ground to set up and shoot Obama."[4] However, Johnson also told the reporter he came to the conclusion that there was assassination plot only after being questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation multiple times, adding, “I told them I had no idea there was a plot, a plan, a conspiracy or anything like that...When the feds came and laid out everything on the table and how it looked, I was in agreement that they could have been up here to do something like that."[16] Johnson later rejected additional media interview requests.[3]

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Denver
presidential candidate[6][7] and prosecutors said they had insufficient evidence that they had the means to carry out a plot to kill Obama.[1] Eid also said the searches of the suspects’ rooms and computers turned up no evidence of a plot or conspiracy.[17] Eid and his aides said the decision not to press charges of threatening a presidential candidate was at least in part because they did not believe a jury would convict them based on the reliability of Johnson’s testimony; Jeffrey Dorschner, Eid’s spokesman, said a defense attorney “would tear him apart.”[16] Although Eid would be accused of racism and political posturing for not seeking the charge, Eid said, "The ’political’ thing to have done in this case, of course, would have been to charge all three defendants with making a threat against Obama and then quietly drop those charges later — expedient, Machiavellian and self-serving, but also illegal, unethical and immoral."[18] The U.S. Secret Service, ATF, a U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated the plot.[9] Inconsistencies with the men’s stories led investigators to downgrade the threat the men presented to Barack Obama.[15] During a press conference August 26, federal authorities said Gartrell, Adolf and Johnson had possessed little, if any, chance of actually assassinating Obama. Eid described the alleged plot as "more aspirational, perhaps, than operational"[3] and said, "we’re absolutely confident that the meth heads were not a true threat to the candidate, the Democratic National Convention or the people of Colorado."[9][10] Officials did not believe the would-be shooters had a clear path to hit the stage from outside the convention hall[3][7] and had little chance of getting to Obama outside the convention, especially since they were incorrect in which hotel Obama would be staying at.[6] One FBI official described the trio as "just a couple of rednecks thinking out loud what they’d like to do."[4] FBI officials said no additional precautions were planned in response to the alleged plot because security had already been high due to the prospect of threats from extremist groups;[7] Secret Service protection for Obama began after the Senator received a death threat in 2007, marking the first time a candidate received such protection before being nominated. Obama and his campaign officials did not comment on the arrests, just

Assessment of threat
FBI Special Agent Robert Sawyer initially said there was probable cause to believe the trio were conspiring to kill Obama, based on searches of their hotel rooms and cars.[12] However, United States Attorney Troy Eid said the racist statements the suspects made following their arrests had not risen to the legal standard that would have allowed the filing of federal charges for threatening a

3

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
as Obama had usually declined discussing death threats against him in the past since entering the presidential race.[5] "We’re absolutely confident that the meth heads were not a true threat to the candidate, the Democratic National Convention or the people of Colorado." —U.S. Attorney Troy Eid[9] Although officials downplayed the level of threat the trio presented to Obama, they said they planned further investigations into how a gang of supposedly small-time criminals collected such a massive arsenal.[6][10] Authorities believed the men had at least some white supremacist involvement,[3][7][10] although experts at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the radical right, said no evidence exists linking any of them to a white supremacist group.[7] Nevertheless, the possible connections prompted FBI officials, who originally considered the threat "relatively minor,"[7] to develop stronger concerns about whether the motives from the three plotters could have been connected to a larger organization.[7] The FBI stated that with an African American candidate for President "...you are certainly going to look at the general threat picture against any candidate and factor in the threats posed by those who preach hate and racism."[7] Dr. William Boone, political science professor at Clark Atlanta University, said drug influence should not have been cause for prosecutors to dismiss the threat, and that drugs have historically caused criminals to follow through with such crimes and schemes. Boone said, "The whole idea of just dismissing it as not credible is incredible. ... It’s surprising given the whole history of crime and drug use in the United States."[19]

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Denver
from a Hertz rental car shot on August 15 could have matched the guns seized from the men.[3] Shawn Adolf, a Greeley, Colorado resident,[20] is the only one of the three alleged plotters with any previous history of violence.[7] Adolf was arrested on May 14, 1997 for his involvement in a theft of $350,000-worth of construction equipment, materials and vehicles in Greeley.[20] He served prison time starting in 1997 on drug-related charges[10] and faced two third-degree assault charges in 2001.[7] At the time of his arrest for the alleged assassination plot, he had eight warrants out for him for various crimes around Colorado,[10] including one for skipping out on a $1 million bond.[8] He was on the most-wanted list of the Weld County, Colorado sheriff’s department for burglary, larceny, aggravated motor vehicle theft and other prior charges.[3] Adolf possessed a handcuff key on one hand and a swastika ring on the other when he was arrested for the alleged assassination plot.[3] His criminal history also included burglary, forgery, drug and weapon charges.[10] Vicki Harbert, an investigator with the Weld County Sheriff’s Department, had been pursuing Adolf since 2006 and feared he would eventually kill a police officer; she said of Adolf after his 2008 arrest, "I’ve been a cop for 18 years and he was not your typical bad guy."[8] Tharin Gartrell is a professional club-music disc jockey[10] originally from Lincoln County, Nevada.[21] He lived in Pioche, Nevada until the 1990s,[15] when he moved to another rural Nevada town with his father,[3] Carl "Flash" Gartrell,[21] a journeyman ranch hand and heavy equipment operator. Carl Gartrell has a history of multiple drugand alcohol-related arrests and in August 2008 had a warrant out for his arrest in Lincoln County.[21] Tharin Gartrell, who had no known address at the time of his arrest, was run over by a truck as a child and, according to Lincoln County, Colorado Sheriff Kerry Lee, "it was absolutely amazing that he wasn’t hurt badly."[3] As a teen, Gartrell tried to enroll at a high school about 80 miles north of Las Vegas, but instead attended a Colorado high school and experienced significant disciplinary action problems. He was told he would have to enroll in an alternative school, but never did.[3] Friends said Gartrell had been on probation for drugs and had been straight for several years, but fell off

Histories of alleged plotters
After their arrest, law enforcement officials investigated whether Shawn Adolf, Tharin Gartrell and Nathan Johnson were linked to vandalism shootings that targeted at least two federal buildings in Denver two weeks prior to their arrest. Windows were shot at the U.S. Custom House and the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Station in Denver’s downtown Federal District. Authorities were also studying whether a bullet recovered

4

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
the wagon and started spending time with Adolf in mid-August 2008.[8] Like Adolf, Gartrell and Johnson had a criminal history involving burglary, forgery, drug and weapon charges.[10] Tharin is registered with the Republican Party in Colorado.[21]

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Denver
Eid said the Blanchard and Geisel situations were different from those of Gartrell, Adolf and Johnson because credible witnesses heard specific threats being made in both cases. Eid said Gartrell never made any threatening statements about killing Obama, and Johnson was under the influence when he accused Gartrell and Adolf and is not considered a credible witness. Blanchard’s attorney, Lawrence Hewitt, said he planned to research the Colorado cases to see whether it would have any bearing on his client’s case.[17] In a letter responding to criticism about not charging Gartrell, Adolf and Johnson, Eid wrote, “It would have been disgraceful for me or any other prosecutor to charge someone for a crime he didn’t commit. ... There was no probable cause to support such a charge. To the extent you challenge my motives or those of the many investigating agents and career prosecutors who all reached this conclusion in this matter, you’re mistaken.”[16]

Comparison to other cases
The failure to prosecute the trio caused some speculation about a government cover-up, particularly revolving around Troy Eid, who was appointed U.S. Attorney by President George W. Bush[16] and has been accused of showing political biases.[22][23] Many of those speculations cited Eid’s previous charges against Marc Harold Ramsey for allegedly sending a threatening letter to 2008 Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain from behind bars in the Arapahoe County Jail. Ramsey, who faces five years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines if convicted, sent McCain a package with a harmless white powdery substance and a letter that read, "Senator McCain, If you are reading this then you are already DEAD! Unless of course you can’t or don’t breathe."[23] Eid said the Ramsey case was "absolutely distinguishable"[17] from the Gartrell, Adolf and Johnson because there was no evidence of actual planning on the part of the trio.[17] In North Carolina, Jerry Blanchard was indicted for threatening to kill Obama during a July 15, 2008 breakfast at a Waffle House; he allegedly called Obama the "Antichrist" at the breakfast, and made similar threats against Obama later at a hotel. Blanchard was placed in custody despite the fact that no evidence surfaced that he planned to go through with an assassination attempt. Later that same month in Florida, Raymond H. Geisel was charged with making threatening statements against Obama during a bail-bonds training class on July 31. Geisel also threatened to put a bullet in the head of President Bush, although Geisel later claimed he was joking. He was also found to be in possession of ammunition, body armor, a combat-style hatchet, tear gas, a loaded 9 mm handgun and four loaded magazines; Geisel said he was a collector and was using the gun for his bail-bonds course. Geisel remained in custody for a month.[17]

Media coverage
The Centre for Research on Globalisation, a Montreal-based website about social and economic issues, said the alleged assassination plot received "oddly...little coverage"[24] in the American mainstream media and said foreign news agencies in Russia, Lebanon and Israel provided more detailed coverage. The Centre suggested a media blackout had been initiated against the story, although it did not specify whether it was implemented by the government or willingly by the press.[24] Robert Arend, a writer with OpEdNews, said within two months of the alleged plot, media coverage of the trio had dropped so much, "those three creeps dropped into the bottomless pit of media obscurity."[25] The story was featured on page A18 of The New York Times and page A23 in The Washington Post on August 27, 2008. The alleged assassination plot was originally listed as the 15th story on the CNN website and was not posted on the MSNBC site at all. The story was also unreported by ABC World News, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News and PBS NewsHour. Friedman pointed out that U.S. Attorney Troy Eid put far greater focus, "on this relatively little amount of meth and their use of it than on the other apparent highly incriminating pieces of evidence obtained"[23] and criticized the media

5

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
for not questioning Eid more sharply about the trio’s large arsenal of weapons. Friedman also further criticized Eid as a "typical George W. Bush appointee - somewhat unprofessional, seemingly incompetent, stonewalling, less than brilliant."[23] Eid said the story was blown out of proportion by the blogosphere, and that legitimate newspapers reported on rumors and allegations in response to the blogs. Eid said he was "hounded" by countless bloggers about the story and accused of "racism and worse"[18] for not charging the trio with threatening a presidential candidate. He said the situation was characteristic of the way the mainstream media was changing in response to the Information Age: "Blog-driven ’news’ is tragically becoming the rule, not the exception. Much of it is misinformation, where some person or interest group "spins" some angle for an unknown purpose. You can tell this when calls and e-mails start flooding the office, reading from the identical script, accusing you of the moral equivalent of crimes against humanity."[18]

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Denver
friend, said at the hearing that the entire case was a misunderstanding and said, "Now people are going to see him as a racist, and that is not him."[27]

Notes and references
[1] ^ Cardona, Felisa. "1 of 3 men in Obama threat case in court on drug charge." The Denver Post, August 29, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-29. [2] ^ Burnett, Sara. "Drug suspect wanted to shoot Obama at Invesco." Rocky Mountain News, September 3, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-03. [3] ^ Wyatt, Kristen and Jordan, Lara Lakes. "Fed official: Colo. men no ’true’ threat to Obama." Associated Press, August 26, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-26. [4] ^ Gardner, David. "White supremacists cleared of gun plot to assassinate Barack Obama." Daily Mail, August 27, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-27. [5] ^ Maggs, John and Freidman, Dan. "Authorities play down plot against Obama." National Journal, August 27, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-01. [6] ^ Riccardi, Nicholas. "Men’s threat to kill Obama is downplayed." Los Angeles Times, August 26, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-26. [7] ^ Johnson, Kirk and Lichtblau, Eric. "Officials see no ’credible threat’ to Obama in racist rants." The New York Times, August 26, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-26. [8] ^ Piazza, Jo; Meek, James Gordon; and Kennedy, Helen. "Feds: Trio of would-be Obama assassins not much of ’threat.’" New York Daily News, August 27, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-01. [9] ^ Ensslin, John C.; Villa, Judi; and Washington, April M. "U.S. attorney ’confident’ Obama not threatened." Rocky Mountain News, August 26, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-26. [10] ^ Otis, Ginger Adams and Venezia, Todd. "Would-be assassins had seething hatred for Barack Obama." New York Post, August 26, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-26. [11] Mitchell, Don. "Man accused in Obama threat uses crutches in court." Associated Press, August 28, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-28.

Charges and trials
Adolf was held on $1 million bond for several outstanding warrants involving drug charges; he was charged with possession of a firearm and body armor by a violent convicted felon, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute[3] and parole violations.[6] Johnson was also charged with simple possession of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon[3] and received a $10,000 bond at a bond hearing;[3][10] some media outlets said the low bond amount indicated authorities did not believe he was capable of assassinating Obama.[10][14] Johnson’s girlfriend, Natasha Gromek, was also arrested on drug charges, but was not believed to be involved in the plot.[4] On December 16, 2008, Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a weapon by a prohibited person. He faces 10 to 37 months in prison when he is sentenced in federal court on March 20, 2009.[26] On January 29, 2009, Tharin Gartrell was sentenced to 15 days in prison and six months in a halfway house for a charge of possessing methamphetamine. During his sentencing, District Judge Robert E. Blackburn said, "Frankly, Mr. Gartrell, it’s time you grew up."[27] Phil Ewing, Gartrell’s best

6

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
[12] ^ Larson, Jace and Vap, Nicole. "New details about plot to kill Obama. 9News, September 3, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-03. [13] Roberts, Jim. "Sons of Silence and the Obama plot." The National Ledger, August 27, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-01. [14] ^ "FBI Downplays Credibility Of Obama Threat." CBS News, August 26, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-26. [15] ^ Manning, Mary. "Man with Nevada ties charged with meth possession in Denver." Las Vegas Sun, August 27, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-27. [16] ^ Stein, Jeff. "The Obama assassination attempt that wasn’t." Congressional Quarterly, September 5, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-07. [17] ^ Cardona, Felisa. "Local Obama plot case lures N.C. lawyer." The Denver Post, September 2, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-03. [18] ^ Eid, Troy A.. "Losing the truth in the depths of the Web." The Denver Post, September 12, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-16. [19] Muhammad, Charlene. "Were Obama death threats real?" FinalCall.com, September 14, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-16. [20] ^ "Press Release: $350,000 in Stolen Property Recovered -Case WC07-2013."

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Denver
Weld County Sheriff’s Office, June 20, 2007. Retrieved on 2008-08-28. [21] ^ "Investigation into possible assassination plot against Obama." KTNV Channel 13 Action News, August 26, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-29. [22] Taylor, Marisa and Talev, Margaret. "2 additional prosecutors were considered for ouster." Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, May 16, 2007. Retrieved on August 30, 2008. [23] ^ Friedman, Brad. "Scant coverage of Obama assassination plot: irresponsible or cautious?" The Brad Blog, August 29, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-29. [24] ^ Carmichael, Michael "Possible Obama assassination plot gets little US coverage." The Centre for Research on Globalisation, August 26, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-29. [25] Arend, Robert. "Conspiracies to assassinate Obama: Colorado vs Tennessee." OpEdNews, October 27, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-11-07. [26] "Man in suspected Obama plot pleads guilty to weapons charge." Rocky Mountain News, December 17, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-01-03. [27] ^ Cardona, Felisa. "Obama-plot figure sentenced." The Denver Post, January 30, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-02-02.

Retrieved from 2008_Barack_Obama_assassination_scare_in_Denver"

"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

Categories: Assassination attempts, Barack Obama, 2008 in the United States, Racially motivated violence against African Americans, White supremacy in the United States, Crime in Colorado This page was last modified on 1 May 2009, at 16:27 (UTC). All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a U.S. registered 501(c)(3) taxdeductible nonprofit charity. Privacy policy About Wikipedia Disclaimers

7


				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:15
posted:5/21/2009
language:English
pages:7