Action Editorial: Why the Secret Service and FBI Must Investigate Threats Against Obama and Beef Up Security to Protect Him
The right-wing hate speech polluting the debate over health care is generating more and more threats against President Barack Obama, some truly frightening.
Will you join AlterNet and Credo and sign a petition calling for the FBI to do everything necessary to confront threats to Obama and expand and fully fund efforts to protect the president of the United States?
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez reports that when Obama visited Phoenix on Aug. 17, local minister Steven Anderson of the Faithful World Baptist Church, who strongly expresses hatred for Obama in many of his sermons, told his congregation that he wished him dead.
In a disturbing twist, it was discovered that Chris Broughton, the man who brought an AR-15 assault rifle to the Phoenix rally where Obama spoke, had attended Anderson's sermon. In a later interview, Broughton said he concurred with his pastor's wish to see Obama "die and go to hell." As many as 12 men were seen walking around the Phoenix Convention Center with guns on that day.
Obama faces 30 death threats a day, a 400 percent increase over those against George W. Bush when he was president, according to Ronald Kessler, a veteran investigative journalist and conservative and author of the new book, In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect.
Kessler notes that funding cutbacks have already left the first African American president in U.S. history particularly vulnerable. The book, which alleges that the cash-strapped Secret Service is endangering the president by cutting corners, has sent shockwaves through Washington.
"There's no question his life is in danger.
"Tomorrow, Obama could be assassinated ... simply because the Secret Service was not doing what it used to do," said Kessler.
"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.
And if ever the Secret Service needed to be at its best, that time is now. The threats against Obama are not confined to Phoenix. Delusional fringe characters are not the only ones spouting hateful, inflammatory rhetoric.
Last Tuesday, according to the Huffington Post, Idaho Republican gubernatorial hopeful, Rex Rammell, said he'd buy a license to hunt Obama.
Meanwhile, conservative lawmakers are riling up their right-wing followers with outright racism. Last week, Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., expressed her wish that the Republican Party would find a "great white hope" to take on the president in the next election.
As CNN's Rick Sanchez said on the air, "This looks serious. This almost looks like this is coming to the point where we are even beyond maybe where this nation was on Nov. 22 of 1963, when JFK was assassinated, when there was also an environment of hate in this country."
As racist attacks increase and protesters continue to bring guns to presidential events, it is strikingly clear that Obama is vulnerable to harm. Are the Secret Service and FBI doing enough to protect him? Will they confront and investigate those who threaten our president so that they can be prosecuted and jailed?
We cannot allow funding problems to weaken the organizations charged with protecting the life of our nation's president.
In 2003, the Secret Service and FBI became part of the Department of Homeland Security and now must compete with 20 other agencies for oversight from their chief, Janet Napolitano. She must use her authority to ensure that the Secret Service and FBI put more agents on the ground to protect Obama and confront and investigate those who threaten him.
It is time for Americans of every stripe to insist that the Secret Service and FBI operate at the highest levels of effectiveness.
Sign your name to this petition so that Napolitano, secretary of homeland security, hears the message loud and clear. And please pass this message on to your friends and colleagues.
It is a difficult time in America, and we have to stand up and make sure our president is safe.