Wednesday, September 03, 2008

FBI Wanted Obama Plotters Charged, But A Rove Appointee Said No

[Tharin Gartrell, 28; Shawn Robert Adolf, 33; and Nathan Johnson, 32]

-- by Dave

We noticed last week that it was awfully peculiar that Colorado’s U.S. Attorney, Troy Eid, had so airily dismissed conspiracy charges against the three white-supremacist tweakers who were caught planning to assassinate Barack Obama at last week’s Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Now it turns out that those suspicions were fully warranted:

KUSA - 9Wants to Know has learned three men in Denver planned to assassinate U.S. Senator Barack Obama during the Democratic National Convention in Denver by sneaking into one of his events and shooting him with a gun hidden inside of a camera, according to federal court records.

Nathan Johnson's girlfriend, whom 9NEWS is not naming because she's a juvenile, said it would have to be a suicide mission.

The plot is similar to that in the 1992 movie "The Bodyguard" starring actors Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. In the movie, Costner stops an assassination attempt against Houston by spotting a weapon hidden inside a gutted-out TV camera.

Johnson, Shawn Adolf and Tharin Gartrell all thought that Obama had a suite in the third floor of the Hyatt hotel, where they were staying. In fact, the Senator was staying in another Denver Hotel.

The men were doing methamphetamine inside the hotel with two women on Aug. 23 discussing the plot to kill Obama, according to federal records.

Adolf said "it would not matter if he killed Senator Obama because police would simply add a murder charge to his pending charges," according to the records. There were seven outstanding warrants for Adolf's arrest.

The underage woman told law enforcement that Adolf also talked about using "a high-powered rifle 22-250 from a high vantage point" to shoot Senator Obama during his acceptance speech at INVESCO Field at Mile High during the DNC.

Even more significant, beyond the details of the plot, was the fact that, as the Colorado Independent notes, the FBI asked for more serious charges to be filed and were turned down.

When police searched the hotel rooms and cars the men were using, they confiscated meth, needles, laptops, cell phones, a black mask, books indicating check fraud and forgery, bags of new clothes, tactical pants and bar coupons.

Based on the evidence, FBI special agent Robert Sawyer believed there was probable cause to charge the men with conspiracy to kill Senator Obama. However, US Attorney Troy Eid last week said there is insufficient evidence to indicate a true threat, plot or conspiracy against the senator.

Note the language used by Eid in dismissing the gravity of the case: the case isn't serious because they were "more aspirational, perhaps, than operational"? Well, when it was the Liberty Seven -- black Muslim men who were described by the FBI as "aspirational rather than operational" -- there was no hesitation by the Justice Department in bringing charges.

Another funny thing: When a black man in prison sent a threatening letter containing baby powder to John McCain, Troy Eid brought down the full force of the law, complete with press conferences and public declarations that "We won't stand for threats of this kind in Colorado."

But when it’s a claque of white men with rifles, disguises, and all the accoutrement of a conspiracy – as well as open admissions to it – Troy Eid isn’t worried. After all, they just a bunch of harmless, tweakers, right? … Just like little Timmy McVeigh.

But then, when you’re a Karl Rove operative promoted to deliver justice the Republican way, as Troy Eid is, that’s the way the scales fall. As Marcy reported at the time, Eid in fact nearly didn't get the Colorado job because of concerns about "improper lobbying."

His failure to take this matter seriously is itself a serious matter. When law-enforcement officials let this stuff slip by, they send a dangerous message to other would-be plotters out there. And next time, they may in fact be more competent.

[Cross-posted at Firedoglake.]

No comments: