No assassination charges for 'meth heads' who discussed killing Obama
Nick Juliano
Published: Tuesday August 26, 2008

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DENVER -- Three men who were in Denver with sniper rifles, camouflage clothing, bullet-proof vest and rental trucks who had talked about killing Barack Obama posed "no credible threat" to the Democratic presidential candidate's life, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.

US Attorney Troy Eid, who charged the three men this week on lesser weapons and drug charges, described the suspects simply as "meth-heads" whose drug-addled fantasies of killing Obama were merely "aspirational," and he said their actions did not show that they were serious enough about killing the Illinois senator to charge them with attempted assassination of a presidential candidate.

Eid, speaking to reporters during an afternoon press conference at his office here, said numerous federal and local law enforcement agencies, including the Secret Service, FBI and ATF, were continued to do everything they could to keep Obama safe.

The investigation was triggered after police in the Denver suburb of Aurora stopped a truck that was swerving erratically early Sunday. Police say they found two high-powered rifles, two wigs, camouflage clothing, a bulletproof vest and two walkie-talkies in the truck. They say they also found three IDs in other people's names and what they believe to be methamphetamine.

One of the men arrested, Nathan Johnson, told a Denver TV station that others involved in the case had made racist statements regarding Obama and had discussed killing him Thursday, the day of his acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High.

"He don't belong in political office. Blacks don't belong in political office. He ought to be shot," Johnson told KCNC-TV Monday in a late-night interview from jail, where he was being held on drug charges.

When asked whether he felt there was a plot to kill Obama, Johnson said, "Looking back at it, I don't want to say yes, but I don't want to say no." He said he wasn't involved in any plot.

Johnson was arrested over the weekend along with Shawn Robert Adolf and Robert Gartrell. All three remain jailed on federal drug and weapons charges.

A court document outlining the charges against the men revealed that they referred to Obama using racial epithets and discussed killing him.

Johnson told an investigator that "Adolf said that he wanted to kill Obama on his inauguration" and detailed the type of weapons Adolf said he would use, according to the court documents. Johnson also "stated that he believed that Gartrell was also present in Denver, CO to assist Adolf in killing Obama."

The court documents outline how the three men met in a hotel room to "do drugs," and says methamphetamine was found in the rooms.

"A bunch of meth-heads got together," Eid said of the meeting, dismissing any plotting.

"There was no credible threat" against Obama or any convention attendees, he said.

Pressed on what would constitute a credible threat, Eid demurred, saying that there was "no evidence" that any of the three suspects actually intended or would be able to carry out their threats. He didn't say precisely why the rented trucks or the riffles found in them -- one of which was stolen -- were not enough evidence to prosecute the men of plotting to kill Obama.

Eid said his office is taking the investigation seriously and would continue to work to uncover new leads. It remains unclear whether the three who were arrested conspired with any other people or were members of a white supremacist organization.

"There's some things I just don't know," he said.