On August 24, 2008, the day before the Democratic National Convention began in Denver, Colorado, police arrested a white supremacist and meth head Tharin Gartrell after a traffic stop. In his truck, authorities found two rifles, one with a scope, walkie-talkies, a bulletproof vest, and fake IDs. This quickly led to the arrest of Shawn Adolf and Nathan Johnson. The three had been doing meth in the Denver Hyatt with two women, one the underage girlfriend of Johnson. According to this girlfriend, the men had been discussing ways to kill Barack Obama, the soon to be nominated Democratic Presidential candidate, whom they thought would also be staying in the Hyatt. (He wasn’t) The men then considered smuggling a gun in a camera into Obama’s acceptance speech in INVESCO Field. 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.” When asked if there were a plot, Nathan Johnson is reported as saying, “Looking back at it, I don’t want to say yes, but I don’t want to say no.” Robert Sawyer who led the FBI investigation recommended that the men be charged with conspiracy to kill Obama. Despite this, the US Attorney for Colorado Troy Eid, a Rove footsoldier who had done unreported lobbying for Jack Abramoff, refused to do so and declared, “The law recognizes a difference between a true threat — one that can be carried out — and the reported racist rantings of a drug addict,” and described the plot as “more aspirational, perhaps, than operational.” The men will be held on drug, weapons, and other outstanding warrants.
Eid’s actions, or rather lack thereof, raise two interesting questions. Would he have done the same if these men had been discussing the assassination of a Republican, like George Bush or John McCain? And would he have declined to press conspiracy charges if the men had had Middle Eastern sounding names instead of being homegrown domestic terrorists?