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Fears for Obama : Neo-Nazi Threats as Great a Worry as Al Qaeda?

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: Barack Obama, John McCain, Sarah Palin, hate speech, gutter politics, Republicans, Neocons, PNAC, racism, white supremacists, Dominionists, fundamentalists, skinheads, Campaign 2008, angry mobs )

- 3462 days ago -
...the increasing anger of white supremacists has manifested itself in Internet postings and threats reported to law-enforcement agencies. What worries the FBI most, he says, are "lone wolves" who might be seething with anger and armed to the teeth...

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Blue Bunting (855)
Friday October 31, 2008, 11:05 am
Mark Hosenball and Michael Isikoff

With the presidential election only days away, federal officials are looking closely for any uptick in threats to presidential candidates from white supremacist or other extremist groups. But in contrast to the pre-election atmosphere of four years ago, U.S. agencies have picked up little "chatter" about looming Islamic terror plots—and scant indications of any imminent pre-election messages from Al Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden.

Earlier this week, authorities announced they had busted up a far-fetched plot directed at Democratic candidate Barack Obama by two young "skinhead" racists in Tennessee. That case, along with a similar extremist plot broken up before the Democratic Party convention in Denver and the recent arrest of a neo-Nazi leader in Virginia, have pointed up the extent to which the government is paying attention to the threat to Obama from far-right extremist factions. "I don't know that we're seeing a resurgence of these groups," Michael Ward, deputy assistant FBI director for counterterrorism, told NEWSWEEK. "But we are seeing an increase in rhetoric."

Ward says the increasing anger of white supremacists has manifested itself in Internet postings and threats reported to law-enforcement agencies. What worries the FBI most, he says, are "lone wolves" who might be seething with anger and armed to the teeth but who do not show up on any government radar screens.

Since last February, a presidential-campaign-threat task force created by the FBI and Secret Service has conducted more than 650 "threat assessments" to evaluate reports that could involve threats to presidential or vice presidential contenders or any others connected to the election. About 100 of those threats have been assessed to be "racially motivated" and are thought to be directed at Obama. Another 100 of the reports received since last winter are deemed to be "political" and come from across the ideological spectrum. They include pro-gun groups and anti-abortion extremists. Other categories used by the task force to track threats don't breakdown along ideological or political lines.

A similar interagency group was put together four years ago when U.S. agencies were anxious about the possibility of a pre-election attack by Al Qaeda or its affiliates. Ward said concerns about an attack by Al Qaeda or other Islamic extremists haven't evaporated. But this year, concerns about white-supremacist threats have grown. "They're both high on the radar screen and they're of equal concern," he said.

At least three lurid right-wing-extremist threats directed at Obama have come to light through government court proceedings since the end of last summer. First, as delegates and journalists were arriving in Denver in late August for the Democratic National Convention, three alleged white supremacists were arrested by local and federal authorities on drug and gun charges. In court papers, the Feds said that the three, who had access to a rifle with a sniper scope, had discussed their hatred for Obama and the possibility of shooting him from a "grassy knoll." However, investigators said that most if not all of this lurid conversation took place while the suspects were addled by methamphetamines; the suspects were never actually charged with threatening Obama, which in itself is a possible federal crime.

Two weeks ago, in Roanoke, Va., Bill White, a notorious neo-Nazi leader, was arrested on charges of threatening the "use of force" against the foreman of a Chicago jury which had convicted another white supremacist leader in 2004. In an affidavit submitted to a court to request a warrant for White's arrest, an FBI agent included graphics from a purported "National Socialist" magazine White was about to publish, which prominently featured a death threat against Obama. According to the affidavit, White in the past often issued death threats through a Web site he edited; one posting said that "all Jews and Marxists (including their fellow traveling neo-cons, neo-liberals, Zionists and Judaized-Christians in both the Republican and Democratic Parties) should be shot rather than debated …"

Then, earlier this week, agents of the Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrested two alleged white supremacists, Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, on firearms and possible presidential-threat charges. According to an ATF court filing, the two, who shared "White Power" and "Skinhead" enthusiasms, met via the Internet about a month ago and began discussing how they would embark on a "killing spree" that would include killing 88 people and beheading 14 African-Americans. (Experts who monitor right-wing groups say the number 88 is a code for "Heil Hitler," H being the eighth letter in the alphabet.). According to the ATF complaint, the two suspects' discussions eventually led them to a Tarantino-like fantasy plot in which they would shoot Obama from a car with a rifle while dressed in white tuxedos and top hats.

Despite these well-publicized cases, Mark Potok, a researcher with the Southern Poverty Law Center—an Alabama group that monitors racist and neo-Nazi activities—says that most ultra-right-wing extremists have been very careful recently about circulating death threats, which can be attributed to them publicly. "We've seen very little of that on white supremacist Web sites," Potok said. The reason: they fear it will give the Secret Service, FBI and other government agencies an excuse for cracking down on them aggressively, Potok says.

Meanwhile, U.S. counterterrorism officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that while they remain wary of possible Islamic terrorist-attack plots, they have no specific and credible information to indicate that a pre-election plot directed at targets inside the United States is in the works. (That, of course, does not rule out the possibility that such a plot is indeed afoot and the U.S. authorities just don't know about it yet.) The officials also said they had no specific indication that Osama bin Laden or one of his principal associates, such as Al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, were planning in the next few days to circulate a message related to the U.S. presidential election similar to the message from bin Laden that surfaced just prior to the 2004 election.

Recently, persistent attacks by computer hackers have disabled some key Web sites used by Al Qaeda supporters to circulate propaganda and exchange messages. One of the main sites used by Al Qaeda leaders in the past to circulate video and audio messages remains operative, however. There is no indication that the site expects such a message before next Tuesday, said several government and private experts, although this does not rule out the possibility. Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism expert who monitors Al Qaeda Web sites, he says that the terrorist group still could attempt to use the pre-election period as an opportunity to "grab media headlines."

Terror Watch appears weekly on

Blue Bunting (855)
Friday October 31, 2008, 11:05 am

Feds Fear a Neo-Nazi Insurrection By Militia Custom Built for the Talibunny Federal authorities are completely freaked out by the possibility of an uprising of enraged neo-Nazis, set on the extermination of Barack Obama and his presidency - a security exposure they believe as potent as an attack by Al Qaeda, according to a report

Jon Swift, John McCain and Republicans: In defense of angry angry mobs

Blue Bunting (855)
Friday October 31, 2008, 11:26 am
Playing With Fire

by Digby

I understand why neither the authorities or the media want to make too big of a deal about assassination plots against Obama
by knuckleheads. Elevating such things to a Big Story might just make some people think it's worth doing. But sadly, knuckleheads are often the perpetrators of such crimes and the fact that we have had two plots (that we know of) thwarted already makes me very nervous.

I grew up in a time when American political leaders were assassinated with alarming frequency. It almost happened as recently as 1981, although the perpetrator was a nutcase rather than a racist or someone with a political agenda. It's not a relic of some distant time in our history. And this election is running on some of those very same fault lines in American life, adding to the victimology of the right wing and feeding into some very ugly corners of the American lizard brain.

If anything happens, I will hold Republicans responsible for failing to call out the disgusting behavior of their rabid base and very explicitly and frequently reminding their neanderthal followers that political differences are not a cause for violence. Lying about Obama "palling around with terrorists" was damned close to endorsing an assassination attempt. It's no wonder that knuckleheads are out there scheming.

Reader Jake from North Carolina sent this in to me last night:

We (Asheville) are hosting Ms. Palin in the arena this evening in a big, last-minute and hastily planned rally.

People have come from all over the southeast. Primarily, the crowd is local, but there seems to be a large contingent from South Carolina, just about an hour's drive from here. The crowd was estimated to be about 8,000, but I can tell by how long the line is (and comparing it to concerts that have had large turnouts), that there's easily 15,000 out there. The line has gone around the block completely and backed up around back to the front door again...

You should see this crowd. These people all look normal enough, until you really start studying them. Most are happy, but about every third one is angry and quite willing to scrap with the occasional protester that wonders by (The good news, about one of every 10 is an Obama supporter.) I've spoken to a few, they're very sure they're going to win. That Palin is going to be the next VP, and shortly, the Pres. Comments on our local paper's site show that people are taken with the notion that Palin is just like their neighbors wife.

I didn't delve into "why" they were so sure that things are going to swing their way. Maybe they believe that they've prayed about it fervently enough. Maybe the fact that so many are from the reddest of red states where red state media only serves up red meat to chew on has skewed their world view. One can only imagine. Maybe in their last meeting in the great conspiracy cornfield were they all meet to breed they discussed the proper techniques for stealing votes. Who knows?

It only takes one of those disappointed true believers who have been convinced that Obama is a Muslim socialist in league with terrorists to do something stupid. particularly since millions of them will be convinced that ACORN stole the election for him. If you think that all this doesn't tie into those white supremacist twits they caught today, think again:

The right wing continues to link the fight for black equality with socialism and communism. At the website of conservatism’s flagship publication, National Review, conservatives like Andy McCarthy argue whether Obama is "more Maoist than Stalinist," and National Review writer Lisa Schiffren explicitly argued this summer that Obama must have communist links based on his interracial background. Schiffren mused, "for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or 60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics."

This conclusion is one she shares with Robert Shelton, Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s, who declared that "amalgamation is ultimately the goal of the Communist element." (To be fair, these conclusions make a bit of sense: could there be a more perfect vessel for a secret communist takeover of the United States than a biracial one-term senator from Chicago with an Arabic-sounding name? At a Starbucks somewhere, Chairman Mao is leeching WiFi for a quick instant message to William Ayers: "It’s happening exactly how we planned it.")

McCain, a child of privilege who spent the late 1960s in a Vietnamese prison camp, may simply be unaware of the feelings and historical context he has evoked through his campaign’s rhetoric. When Sarah Palin accuses Obama of "palling around with terrorists" and suggests that Obama hates his own country enough to wish it violence, the McCain campaign fuels age-old paranoia built around the conflation of black rights and the radical left. As for McCain himself, his attempts to tamp down the vitriol of his crowds suggest that he is somewhat confused by their response. He wants voters to dislike Obama, but he seems unaware of just what he has unleashed. However, by implicitly invoking the idea that Obama represents a socialist takeover of the United States, McCain is inviting what can only be a rational response from those who would die for their country: violence. What else is a patriot to do when freedom is threatened? Especially when their fears have been validated by no less authoritative a source than the Republican nominee for president of the United States?

Here are Rush's comments on today's nonsense regarding Obama's comments in 2001 about the Supreme Court:

LIMBAUGH: I just think it's about the economy right now. You mentioned cap gains -- that may be a little sophisticated. But this Obama tape that's out there is not. It's not too sophisticated. It is easily understood. When you've got a guy out there saying that he doesn't believe in the U.S. Constitution, yet he's got to take an oath to defend it and protect it. I mean, did Hillary put this out? Where's this been? How come this has not come out until now? Now there's a lot of undecideds and that's where this tape and that's where the economic mantle on Obama can have some impact here in the final week.

Yeah right, saying Obama doesn't believe in the constitution is an
"economic" argument. It plays directly into some of the more arcane weirdness in the far right about blacks and communism and Muslims forcing Sharia law on your virgin daughters and all sorts of wingnut crazy that's only going to get worse if the Democrats win. He knows exactly what kind of fear and rage he's feeding.

These conservatives are playing with fire, just like those firebugs out there in California who persist in playing with matches on the dried up hillsides and causing catastrophes.

digby 10/27/2008 07:30:00 PM

Past Member (0)
Friday October 31, 2008, 2:44 pm
i have to believe that the neo-nazi's are as ignorant as the ones who re-birthed them (mkkkain/palintology). they are wicked enough to go there but dumb enough to get caught. to be safe of course proper cautions should be taken -but that goes for all of us. like barack says -these few are not the real america -there are far more of us then there is of them. oh how i long for the days i never get to experience -back in the day when we could just stone them to death -but never fear light will prevail -even if we have to find our way in the dark.

Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday November 1, 2008, 11:20 am
Obama 'assassination plot' won't be prosecuted

The damned Bu$hie$ ignored all the warnings about 9/11 too!

Blue Bunting (855)
Saturday November 1, 2008, 2:11 pm
Neo-Nazis, Obama, and the real domestic terrorists

Ryan M (5)
Saturday November 1, 2008, 9:08 pm
Be VERY careful! Many times these types of threats are exaggerated or even staged buy elements in the intelligence sector as an excuse to step up domestic tyranny. The mainstream left and right BOTH have a VERY heavy handed policy of increasing the military/police presence and eroding civil liberties. They are taking advantage of EVERY excuse to further that agenda!

Ryan M (5)
Saturday November 1, 2008, 9:19 pm
Remember. The terror threat was created by the government in the first place(weather intentional or not). Also, in recent history a president has yet to be assassinated without involvement by special interest elements in the government.

Jackie W (31)
Saturday November 1, 2008, 9:46 pm
Personally, I am really praying for Barack's and his family's lives and safety. I believe as a nation, we should all be reaching out to one another and God for Barack's well being. He is riaking his life for all of us by running for President.

Blue Bunting (855)
Sunday November 2, 2008, 6:55 am
Rove appointee sends an ugly message to would-be Obama assassins
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