Thursday, August 06, 2009

Secret Service 'Streched to Limit' By Huge Spike in Threats Against Obama, Book Says

Threats to Assassinate the President Soar By 400 Percent Since Taking Office, Averaging 30 Threats a Day; Most are Cranks, but All Must Be Investigated, Putting a Strain on an Understaffed Secret Service While Concerns Mount About Racist Hate Groups

Secret Service agents flanked President-elect Barack Obama as he arrived for meetings in Chicago. At the White House, President Bush, with wife Laura, thanked his staff after urging swift and smooth dealings with Obama's aides.

Barack Obama, photographed above with Secret Service agents in Chicago during the post-election transition last November, already was the most heavily-guarded presidential candidate in the nation's history during last year's campaign, prompted by an unprecedented spike in death threats against him -- many of which were likely motivated by racial animus. Since taking office in January, threats to assassinate the nation's first African-American president have soared by 400 percent, according to a new book by author Ronald Kessler, with the Secret Service dealing with an average of 30 death threats a day, all of which must be investigated -- putting a strain on the agency's resources. (Photo: Charles Dharapak/AP)

(Posted 5:00 a.m. EDT Thursday, August 6, 2009)


London Daily Telegraph

Since Barack Obama took office six months ago, the rate of threats against the president has increased 400 percent from the 3,000 a year or so under former President George W. Bush, according to a newly-published book.

Ronald Kessler, author of In the President's Secret Service, reports that some threats to Obama, whose Secret Service codename is "Renegade," have been publicized, including an alleged plot by white supremacists in Tennessee late last year to rob a gun store, shoot 88 black people, decapitate another 14 and then assassinate the first black president in American history.

Most however, are kept under wraps because the Secret Service fears that revealing details of them would only increase the number of copycat attempts. Although most threats are not credible, each one has to be investigated meticulously.


According to the book, intelligence officials received information that people associated with the Somalia-based Islamist group al-Shabaab might try to disrupt Obama's inauguration in January, when the Secret Service co-ordinated at least 40,000 agents and officers from some 94 police, military and security agencies.

More than a dozen counter-sniper teams were stationed along the inauguration parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue and the criminal records of employees and hotel guests in nearby buildings were scrutinized.

Despite all this, there were glaring loopholes in the security. Kessler describes how more than 100 VIPs and major campaign donors were screened by metal detectors but then walked along a public pavement before boarding "secure" buses and were not checked again.

It could have been relatively simple for an assassin to have mingled with them in order to get close enough to shoot the new president.


After Obama was elected president, his two children -- Malia, 11, codenamed "Radiance" and Sasha, eight, codenamed "Rosebud" -- began receiving Secret Service protection. First Lady Michelle Obama is codenamed "Renaissance." The Secret Service also started to protect Vice President Joe Biden's children, grandchildren, and mother.

Instead of bringing in more agents -- instantly identifiable because of their bulky suits worn over bullet-proof jackets and their earpieces -- the Secret Service directed agents to work longer hours to cover the extra load and to miss firearms training, physical fitness sessions and tests.

"We have half the number of agents we need, but requests for more agents have fallen on deaf ears at headquarters," a Secret Service agent told Kessler. "Headquarters' mentality has always been, 'You can complete the mission with what you have. You're a USSS agent'."

With Biden's constant travel -- including his weekend commutes back to his home state of Delaware -- the burden has meant that all agents on the vice president's team have ceased training. According to Kessler, however, they fill in forms stating they have "taken and passed all tests, when they have not, creating a dishonest culture."

The Secret Service has increasingly cut corners after it was absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security under Bush. Kessler said that when Biden threw the first pitch at the first Orioles home game of the 2009 season in Baltimore, the Secret Service did not screen any of the more than 40,000 fans, stunning his agents and the local Secret Service field office.


Obama, who came under Secret Service protection in May 2007 -- earlier than any other presidential candidate -- was the most heavily-guarded presidential candidate in American history. Many of his supporters, particularly African-Americans, openly expressed worried that he would become a target for racist extremists.

But with his trademark coolness, Obama has always dismissed the notion of threats against his life. In April of last year, on the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Lither King's assassination, Obama implored his supporters to stop worrying. "I think anybody who decides to run for president recognizes that there are some risks involved," he said, "just like there are risks in anything."

That may be true, but the dangers associated with his particular career are higher than usual.

Four U.S. presidents have been assassinated –- Abraham Lincoln (1865), James A. Garfield (1881), William McKinley (1901) and John F. Kennedy (1963) -- whose younger brother Robert was on the verge of winning the Democratic nomination when he, too, was assassinated in 1968.

Eight more American presidents survived attempts on their lives: Andrew Jackson (1835), Theodore Roosevelt (1912), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933), Harry S. Truman (1950), Richard Nixon (1974), Jimmy Carter (1979), Ronald Reagan (1981) and Gerald Ford, who survived two assassination attempts in 1975.

And it is hard to imagine any Western politician more at risk than a black, liberal heir to the Kennedys, in a country with a continuing history of racial violence, far-right activism and a ready availability of weaponry.


So, whenever an alleged plot emerges against Obama, there is a collective sharp intake of breath across the United States. Only two have been reported thus far –- the case in Memphis, Tennessee, and a less-detailed plan discovered during the Democratic convention in Denver last August.

The force that protects American presidents, vice presidents, presidential and vice-presidential candidates and foreign dignitaries is –- despite its name –- a constant and visible presence by Obama's side.

Burly, keen-faced and with weapons poorly hidden under their suits, the Secret Service agents assigned to Obama are always the first down the steps of the presidential jet, Air Force One, after it touches down, scanning for threats.

At least one accompanies Obama in his bullet-proof limousine, with other agents in cars in front and behind.


Though the U.S. media is wary of discussing the issue, as if in fear of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, the feeling persists that someone will make a serious attempt on Obama's life.

The most likely source would be a right-wing hate group, or its sympathizers, such as the two young white men that were arrested in Tennessee, described by police as neo-Nazi skinheads.

There are dozens of extremist organizations across the United States that pursue an agenda of hatred, whether of immigrants, gays, Jews, Muslims or African-Americans. Some are small. Others, such as the American National Socialist Party, are larger and better organized, and have embraced the Internet as an organizing tool.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, claims that since the 1995 bombing of federal offices in Oklahoma, led by Timothy McVeigh, the radical right has produced some 60 terrorist plots.

These have included plans to bomb or burn government offices, banks, synagogues and mosques; and to assassinate police officers, judges, politicians and civil rights figures.

For African-Americans in particular, it is the memory of the murders in 1968 of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy –- a great champion of their cause –- that shadow Obama, despite the advances in race relations that both men were fighting for.

Like Obama, they represented hope and change for many who yearned for a more just society. The black community's nagging trepidation -- which is shared by millions of white supporters -- is not just for a man they care for deeply, but for welfare of the whole country.

# # #

Volume IV, Number 58
Special Report Copyright 2009, Telegraph Media Group Ltd.
The 'Skeeter Bites Report Copyright 2009, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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Monday, August 03, 2009

Letter From the Editor: 'Birther' Movement Reeks With the Rotten Stench of Bigotry

Why Is CNN's Lou Dobbs Giving a Platform for Conspiracy Theorists Linked to White Supremacists Who Falsely Insist -- Despite Overwhelming Documentary Evidence to the Contrary -- That the Hawaii-Born Obama is a Foreigner Who's Constitutionally Ineligible to be President?

Lou Dobbs, the longtime CNN financial news anchor-turned-commentator, has seen the ratings for his nightly program, "Lou Dobbs Tonight," plunge dramatically in recent weeks, after Dobbs repeatedly challenged -- despite being repeatedly contradicted on-air by both his CNN colleagues and by his rivals on other networks -- the veracity of President Obama's birth in Hawaii in 1961, effectively agreeing with conspiracy theorists who insist that the nation's first African-American president is a foreigner who is constitutionally ineligible to be the nation's chief executive. But the so-called "Birther" movement against Obama has ties to known white supremacists -- including the gunman in the attack on the U.S. Holocaust Museum in June -- who cannot countenance a black man occupying the nation's highest office. (Photo courtesy CNN)

(Posted 5:00 a.m. EDT Monday, August 3, 2009)
(Updated 5:00 p.m. EDT Wednesday, August 5, 2009)


Has Lou Dobbs taken leave of his senses?

The longtime CNN financial news anchor-turned-outspoken commentator who in recent years has generated a lot of controversy over his campaign against illegal immigration -- a campaign that critics have charged is motivated by anti-Latino bias -- may very well have bitten off more than he can chew by airing on his nightly show claims that President Obama is not a native-born U.S. citizen, despite overwhelming documentary evidence to the contrary.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that Dobbs, who's said on the air his belief that the president was born in Hawaii, "has become a publicity nightmare for CNN, [embarrassing] his boss and [hosting] a show that seemed to contradict the network's 'no bias' brand" that seeks to set CNN apart from the left-leaning MSNBC and the right-leaning Fox News Channel.

Dobbs has on several occasions invited members of the so-called "Birther Movement" who stubbornly insist Obama is not a native-born U.S. citizen to air their claims without providing a shred of proof to back them up -- and has even gone so far as to demand that the president make public his birth certificate, even though he did just that during the 2008 election campaign.

But Dobbs kept the controversy alive on his "Lou Dobbs Tonight" program despite a memorandum from CNN President Jon Klein that declared the Obama birth-certificate story "dead" -- and despite a precipitous plunge in the ratings for Dobbs' nightly 6 p.m. EDT program as a result of the controversy, according to the New York Observer.

The newspaper reports that since Dobbs brought up the Obama birth certificate issue in mid-July, his show's ratings have nosedived by 15 percent of his total viewership and by an even more precipitous 27 percent in the all-important 25-54 age bracket most sought after by advertisers.

That Dobbs has given a platform for the "Birthers" on his program has drawn fire even from conservative commentators Ann Coulter and Mike Huckabee -- neither of whom will likely ever be accused of being allies of the president.


By now, you know the story of the so-called "Birther Movement" -- conspiracy theorists who bullheadedly insist without a shred of proof that Obama is a Kenyan-born foreigner who is barred by the Constitution from even running for president, let alone being the nation's CEO and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Never mind the fact that Obama was born on August 4, 1961 -- two years after Hawaii became America's 50th state -- in Honolulu's Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital and that the document exists to prove it. Obama's birth certificate was issued by the Hawaii Department of Health, which confirmed last week that it has the document -- copies of which have been circulating on the Internet for months -- on file.

Never mind the fact that both of Honolulu's major newspapers, the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin, published announcements about the president's birth to "Mr. & Mrs. Barack H. Obama [of] 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy." in Honolulu, in their August 13 and August 14, 1961 editions, respectively.

Never mind the fact that a Honolulu resident, Eleanor Nordyke, gave birth to twin girls in the same hospital the day after Obama was born -- and whose daughters attended the same Honolulu school Obama attended -- and likely knew the boy who would grow up to become America's first African-American president.

Never mind the fact that certified copies of the president's birth certificate can be ordered through the Hawaii Department of Health's Online Vital Records Ordering System, albeit on a strictly limited basis in accordance with the state's privacy law.

Never mind the fact that the original Obama birth certificate itself was viewed, verified as authentic, photographed and posted online last November by the nonpartisan Web site,, which declared that the document "meets all of the requirements from the State Department for proving U.S. citizenship. Claims that the document lacks a raised seal or a signature are false."


The far-right-wing posted what it said were photographs purporting to show a certified copy of a birth certficate for Barack Hueesin Obama II on August 4, 1961 at the Central Coast Provincial Hospital in Mombasa, Kenya.

The photos were released by California attorney Orly Taitz, who has filed a number of lawsuits demanding proof of Obama's eligibility to serve as president -- only to see the suits dismissed as being without merit.

An examination of the photos reveal several inconsistencies in the alleged Kenyan birth certificate. They do not show the signatures of either the president's white, Kansas-born mother, Ann Dunham or of his black, Kenyan-born father, Barack Obama, Sr. Nor do they show any signatures by the registrar or by the attending physicians. Kenya was under British rule in 1961. Under British law, birth certificates are not legally valid without such signatures.

Other discrepancies in the alleged Kenyan birth certificate include listing Obama's mother under his father's surname -- when, in fact, Dunham legally kept her maiden name throughout her marriage. And it lists Dunham's age as 16, when, in fact, she was 18 when she gave birth to the future president.

The lower-left-hand corner of the alleged documents refers to the "Republic of Kenya." But Kenya did not gain its independence from Britain until 1963 -- when the young Barack was two years old.

Most importantly, Dunham never set foot on Kenyan soil -- it would have been extremely unsafe for her to be there. Tribal warfare between the Kikuyus and the Luos was raging in Kenya at the time of her pregnancy. The ethnic warfare erupted in the immediate aftermath of the Mau Mau uprising against the British colonialists. There's no way that Barack Obama Sr., a Luo, would have dared to bring his pregnant white American wife to Kenya at the time, knowing full well that her safety -- and that of their unborn son -- would have been in grave jeopardy.

In fact, the president's mother did not leave the United States until 1967, when she moved to Indonesia to live with her second husband, Lolo Seotoro (She divorced the senior Obama in 1964 after she learned that he was married to another woman in Kenya).

And contrary to the claims of the "Birthers," Dunham never renounced her U.S. citizenship, returning to the States -- with 11-year-old Barack -- in 1972.


So why, despite so much clear evidence that the president was indeed born in Hawaii two years after statehood and is therefore a native-born U.S. citizen, are these conspiracy theorists continuing to insist that Obama was not born in the U.S., but rather in his father's native Kenya?

Conspiracy theorists are notorious for stubbornly clinging to their beliefs, no matter how much or how solid evidence exists to disprove their theories. And the "Birther Movement" is no exception.

But this particular conspiracy-theory movement is more sinister than most. The 'Skeeter Bites Report has uncovered a wealth of evidence that the "Birther Movement" against the president is inextricably tied to white supremacists and other far-right extremists -- and is profoundly marked by an absolute refusal among its practitioners to accept Obama as president because he is black, or because of an equally-false belief that he is a Muslim.

The person who planted the seeds for the "Birther Movement" is Andy Martin, a perennial fringe candidate for public office who is also credited with first spreading false rumors of the president being a Muslim with ties to Islamic extremists. Martin -- a frequent guest on Sean Hannity's Fox News Channel program -- was exposed as a notoriously anti-Jewish bigot.

In a campaign fundraising letter he issued during an unsuccessful run for a Connecticut congressional seat in 1986, Martin -- then known as Anthony R. Martin-Trigona -- pledged to "exterminate Jew Power in America," claimed that "Jew babies are fed with subsidized American taxpayer money" and that Jews were "schooled in blood-sucking and money-grubbing from birth." Martin's anti-Semitic diatribe was obtained and posted by

Martin subsequently moved to Florida and sought the Republican nomination for a state Senate seat a decade later. After learning of Martin's prior anti-Semitic fundraising pitch, GOP officials withdrew their support for him. The 62-year-old Martin now lives in Chicago, the president's adopted hometown.

Martin started his anti-Obama smear campaign in 2004 after Obama, then a U.S. Senate candidate, delivered the keynote address that electrified the delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Boston and put the future president on the national political radar screen.

In several guest appearances on the "Hannity" show, Martin accused Obama -- without offering any proof -- of being "in training for radical overthrow of the government," based on his relationship with former 1960s radical William Ayres.

According to, Martin was wanted in New York and Florida on outstanding arrest warrants as of last October. The New York warrant, out of Ulster County, resulted from harassment charges related to a child custody battle. The Florida warrant, from Palm Beach County, was filed in connection with a criminal contempt conviction.


The belief that Obama is a foreigner has spread like wildfire among white- supremacist circles and Web sites, including Stormfront, the largest and best-known self-styled "white nationalist" site on the Web; the Council of Conservative Citizens, listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "the largest white nationalist group in America," a reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils that were formed to resist desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s; and, a virulently anti-immigrant site.

That white-supremacist groups are heavily involved in the "Birther Movement" against the president should come as no surprise, given the massive coronary they collectively suffered last November when Obama was elected. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors and exposes extremist activity and rhetoric, anger among white supremacists and other right-wing extremists in response to Obama's victory "resulted in an avalanche of vitriolic postings on racist Web sites" -- at one point, causing Stormfront's server to crash.


Questions remain unanswered about James von Brunn, the 89-year-old white supremacist gunman who shot and killed a black security officer inside the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington in June. Investigators found a notebook in von Brunn's car that listed up to nine other target areas in the nation's capital -- including the White House.

According to Abraham Foxman, national director of the ADL, von Brunn not only believed that Obama was not born in the U.S. and ineligible to be president, but "he also believed that Hitler didn't kill enough Jews. He had a history of anti-Semitic, hateful views."

Von Brunn is also the founder of a white-supremacist Web site, HolyWesternEmpire,org, which is laced with anti-Semitic quotations.

The site was taken offline after von Brunn's arrest, but according to former Fox News host Alan Colmes, von Brunn published on his Web site in 2002 a book that detailed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, with chapters such as "The Holocaust Hoax" and "The Negro." The book was mostly anti-Semitic but also attacked all nonwhite ethnicities.

"We are witnessing today on the world stage a tragedy of enormous proportions: the calculated destruction of the White Race," Colmes quoted von Brunn as having written. He threatened to take action against nonwhites, writing, "We will offer a plan to remove the cancer from our cultural organism."


This is not the first time that Dobbs has come under fire about Obama. Last September, while attending a Values Voters summit over the weekend in Washington, Dobbs purchased a box of so-called "Obama Waffles" that featured racially offensive charactures of the then-Illinois senator.

Photographs of Dobbs with the controversial waffle mix, which portrays Obama with popping eyes and big, thick lips as he stares at a plate of waffles and smiles broadly -- an image more reminiscent of Stephin Fetchit than of Aunt Jemima -- were taken down from the Web site of the Family Research Council, the conservative organization that hosted the summit -- but not before snapped a screen shot of the photos.

"My wife will love this!" Dobbs was quoted as saying about the "Obama Waffles."

Nearly a year later, we have to wonder if Mrs. Dobbs still does -- if she ever did. And if America still loves Lou Dobbs. Based on the latest Nielsens, it sure doesn't look like it.

Skeeter Sanders
Editor & Publisher
The 'Skeeter Bites Report

# # #

Volume IV, Number 57
Copyright 2009, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.


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