Men's Threat to Kill Obama is Downplayed
Wednesday 27 August 2008
by: Nicholas Riccardi, The Los Angeles Times
Federal authorities say the pair's rants while on a methamphetamine binge do not meet the legal standard for filing charges, despite their possession of rifles and sniper scopes.
Denver - Federal authorities today downplayed threats made by a pair of men arrested here over the weekend with rifles, sniper scopes and an alleged desire to kill Barack Obama.
Shawn Robert Adolf, 33, and Tharin Robert Gartrell, 28, were being held on parole violations while an associate, Nathan Johnson, was in jail on methamphetamine charges. U.S. Atty. Troy Eid said the men, during a meth binge, had expressed strongly racist views and spoken about killing the presumed Democratic presidential nominee.
The talk, Eid said, does not meet the legal standard for filing charges for threatening a presidential candidate.
"The law recognizes a difference between a true threat - that's one that can be carried out - and the reported racist rants of drug abusers," Eid said at a packed afternoon news conference.
There have been low-grade fears for months about possible threats to the life of Obama, who will become the first African American major-party presidential nominee when he accepts the nomination at a football stadium Thursday night. Obama received Secret Service protection early after he announced his campaign in 2007, a recognition of the risks he faces.
Eid acknowledged that many questions have not been answered, including why the men had high-powered weaponry, body armor, two-way radios, wigs and camouflage gear. It was also unclear why they decided to base themselves in a suburban Hyatt hotel where they believed - erroneously - Obama was staying.
"We are just going to continue to investigate this," Eid said.
In a jailhouse interview with KCNC-TV, Johnson said he did not know whether Adolf and Gartrell would have taken action.
"I don't want to say yes, but I don't want to say no," he said.