Feds: Obama plot “more aspirational, perhaps, than operational”

The three men arrested Sunday suspected of a plot to kill Barack Obama will face weapons and drug charges but won’t face assassination-related charges, Colorado’s U.S. attorney said at a news conference Tuesday.

“The law recognizes a difference between a true threat — one that can be carried out — and the reported racist rantings of a drug addict,” U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said.

He said the men’s plans were “more aspirational, perhaps, than operational.”

Mug shots of suspects Tharin Gartrell, 28; Shawn Robert Adolf, 33; and Nathan Johnson, 32.

Mug shots of suspects Tharin Gartrell, 28; Shawn Robert Adolf, 33; and Nathan Johnson, 32.

All three suspects were high on methamphetamine, authorities said, including one man who jumped through the sixth-story window of his Glendale hotel when police came knocking before dawn on Sunday.

Eid said authorities determined there was no firm plot to harm Obama. Asked what else they could plan to do with the weapons, Eid said, “I don’t know what they were for.”

“A bunch of meth heads get together, we don’t know why they do what they do. … People do lots of stupid things on meth,” Eid said. “If you’re talking about a true threat, there has to be some evidence they’re not just talking about it or thinking about it, especially in a drug-induced state.”

The three could have ties to fringe white supremacist groups, authorities said. One was arrested while wearing a swastika ring.

Colorado Independent sister site The Michigan Messenger examines links between meth trafficking and white nationalist groups. One of the men arrested Sunday had equipment to manufacture meth and faces trafficking charges, police said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, tracking online discussion among white supremacists this week, finds fears that the supposed assassination plot was a trick by authorities to clamp down on racists:

“I completely predicted that they would do this,” “AZDane” wrote on [Stormfront.org, a white supremacist message board]. “If Obama IS assassinated, it will be the gov’t doing it and we’ll take the blame. Like always.”

The AP reports the fears of a white supremacist threat to Obama could be overblown:

The Homeland Security Department has no specific information about threats to the presidential conventions, but officials say the biggest domestic terror threat would come from the “lone wolf” — someone who is generally sympathetic to white supremacist groups and inspired by racist beliefs, according to an Aug. 22 intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press.

In an AP interview last week, the head of the Secret Service’s Protective division said the white supremacist threat to Obama has been exaggerated.

“I think that it’s something that, at times, the media tried to make more of,” Nick Trotta said. “We’ve always watched them, as we watch all the other groups.”

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Ernest Luning

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