October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.
November 1, 2008


Has anyone else noticed how little coverage the skinhead plot to assassinate Obama has been given?

Eric Ward has noticed:

While the public, political pundits, and even some law enforcement officials have been quick to downplay the actions of Cowart and Schlesselman using words such as “unlikely,” “unsophisticated,” and “bizarre”, these individuals are making a case for who they believe is an American. I can’t help but think back to 2006 when seven men who thought they were working with al-Qaida (but in actuality an FBI informant) were arrested in a plot against Chicago’s Sears Tower.

I can’t help but to ask if Coward and Schlesselman had been self-proclaimed Muslims would these same political pundits and law enforcement officials find themselves so blasé? Would the public write it off as “stupid kids who weren’t serious?”


I know the looming election has sucked all the oxygen out of the newsroom. And it's true that the plot -- they wanted to kill 102 black people, 14 of them by decapitation, before they culminated their spree with a frontal attack on Obama -- more resembled a dumb fantasy out of a bad action flick than anything likely ever to become a reality.

But that's what anyone who might've stumbled onto Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols prior to April 19, 1995, likely would have concluded too. And the fact is, these guys were serious, they were heavily armed, and they took concrete steps to begin making their fantasy into a reality.

No, they almost certainly would never have reached Barack Obama. But would they have been capable of killing large numbers of black people before the law caught up with them. Just like the three men caught in Denver before the Democratic National Convention, they weren't likely at all to succeed but they almost certainly would have killed innocent members of the public along the way.

And unlike the Denver tweakers, these two young men not only appeared much more capable and competent, but also much more motivated. After all, they were entrenched in the skinhead scene and heavily involved in the white-nationalist movement that inspired them.

Max Blumenthal has the details at Daily Beast:

Initially portrayed in media accounts as “lone wolves” without institutional affiliations, new information about the would-be assassins suggests deeper connections into the subculture of neo-Nazi thugs united by an adulation of Adolf Hitler and desire for vigilante violence. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the would-be assassins, Daniel Cowart, was a “probate member” of an incipient youth group of the neo-Nazi movement, Supreme White Alliance.

Cowart also maintained a friendship with the SWA’s founder, Steven Edwards. Steven Edwards is the son of Ron Edwards, the founder of the Imperial Klans of America, a neo-Nazi outfit best known for the “Nordic Fest” white power concerts it holds at its 15-acre compound in Kentucky.

After the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed Cowart’s connection to SWA, the group posted a defensive statement on its website denying his role in organizational activities. “Since [the SWA’s annual election] none of the SWA members have had any contact with accused,” the website declared. “So before you get your story wrong, [SPLC], get the facts.” At the same time, the Supreme White Alliance acknowledged that Cowart was indeed a “probate member.”

The ADL has details about the SWA, including their advocacy of "lone wolf" attacks to inspire a race war:

SWA members echoed such calls elsewhere. One member, Jarod Anderson, declared his determination to "re-light the Fire in the Movement." He added that SWA was his "Crew and Life," and that he would die for it "as much as I would for my Family." Ohio SWA member Richard Kidd claimed, in May 2008 in an Internet posting titled "Its [sic] time for war," that "We will all die one day so lets [sic] die for some thing [sic] not nothing."

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently had a noteworthy examination of how skinheads are trying to mainstream themselves these days as a way of expanding their reach. It included this denunciation of the two Tennessee skinheads' plot:

Steve Smith, director of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre chapter of the KSS, said that it was the type of plan that "makes us look like we're a bunch of loonies."

"They're a couple of loony bins that give our movement a bad name," Smith said. "I don't know anybody who would even think that killing Barack Obama would solve anything.

"Anyone who tries to kill Barack Obama does a lot more harm to the white movement than anything," he said.

The reporter and the public are being bullshitted by Smith here, because their ideology specifically is devoted to inspiring race war. That's what the "14 Words" these two wannabe-killers intended to memorialize by decapitation is all about. These cats are just afraid of the massive pile of law-enforcement bricks that will descend on their heads should such a plot ever succeed.

But the cold reality is that for the white-supremacist faction out there, assassinating Obama is widely viewed as the ticket for inspiring race war. Which means that there are going to be at least a few dozen of these "lone wolves" out there devising a means to attain instant Aryan glory.

James Ridgeway recently observed in an interview with Amy Goodman:

Well, I don’t think you see the groups so much strengthening, but what has happened is that racism in general, racial comments, you know, have come to the surface much more, you know, in greater numbers and more openly, because of the Obama candidacy. And you hear all sorts of racial slurs all over the place. So, this subject, this atmosphere, this kind of racial energy, is very much in evidence. And some of these people undoubtedly are motivated and encouraged by this, you know, that they—it’s hard to know to what extent, but they clearly come forward much more openly than they have in the recent past.

Certainly, the FBI has noticed:

Ward says the increasing anger of white supremacists has manifested itself in Internet postings and threats reported to law-enforcement agencies. What worries the FBI most, he says, are "lone wolves" who might be seething with anger and armed to the teeth but who do not show up on any government radar screens.

Since last February, a presidential-campaign-threat task force created by the FBI and Secret Service has conducted more than 650 "threat assessments" to evaluate reports that could involve threats to presidential or vice presidential contenders or any others connected to the election. About 100 of those threats have been assessed to be "racially motivated" and are thought to be directed at Obama. Another 100 of the reports received since last winter are deemed to be "political" and come from across the ideological spectrum. They include pro-gun groups and anti-abortion extremists. Other categories used by the task force to track threats don't breakdown along ideological or political lines.

Now you have to wonder when the mainstream media -- particularly the news networks -- will notice too. If experience tells us anything, it won't be until after the guns and bombs have gone off.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.