In yet another indication that America's democratic experiment is a thing of the past, this editor has received word from a source in a foreign intelligence agency allied with the United States that there has been talk by some within the Obama White House that this editor is under threat. What particular stories have inflamed the White House are not known but the warning conveyed by the source, who has connections within the White House, was stark in its directness: "They want to kill you."
It was perfectly clear that the phrase was not being used as a figure of speech.
That this development is being reported on April 4 is even more ironic. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Kr. was assassinated in Memphis during his mission to support striking sanitation workers in the city. Now, we have our first African-American president and a threat to kill a journalist who is most definitely not one of their favorites has been seriously discussed.
Of course, muckraking journalists have been under threat before in America. In 1972, columnist and investigative journalist Jack Anderson had ended up very high on President Richard Nixon's infamous "enemies list." Anderson had long been a burr under the political saddle of Nixon and the president blamed Anderson for exposing a number of Nixon's corrupt activities, including the exposure in 1956 by Anderson and his boss, Drew Pearson, of a loan from Howard Hughes to Nixon's brother Donald.
In the years before the Watergate scandal broke but at a time when other various scandals in the Nixon administration began to receive the bulldog-like attention of Anderson, who succeeded Pearson as editor of the "Washington Merry-Go-Round column in 1969, there were serious discussions among Nixon aides Charles Colson and G. Gordon Liddy, as well as the CIA's Dr. Edward Gunn, an expert on poisons, about assassinating the troublesome Anderson.
Scenarios included the use of LSD or poison but Anderson's Mormon religion and the fact that he did not drink ruled out the use of poisons or LSD in his drink. Staging an automobile accident in which Anderson would be incinerated was also an option. Another scenario considered was one which would have appeared to be a random Washington, DC street mugging in which Anderson would be stabbed or have his throat slit. The plot to assassinate Anderson came to an abrupt halt as Liddy, Colson, and E. Howard Hunt, who had also been involved in the action against Anderson, were exposed in the May 1972 break-in at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.
Although I have attempted to pattern WMR after Anderson's and Pearson's "Merry-Go-Round" column, I do not have the luxury of newspaper syndicators or a Pulitzer Prize, all of which Anderson could rely on as firewalls between him and those in the White House who wanted to kill him.
I ran the information about the warning from the foreign intelligence source by some African-Americans in Washington who have worked with Obama White House officials. Their response was less than encouraging. The bottom line is that the White House engages in the type of "gangster politics" for which their home base of Chicago has become infamous.
Although I have taken precautions in covering post-genocide Rwanda, child trafficking in Thailand and Cambodia, the "loss" of nuclear weapons at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, the gunning down by police of CIA asset Tony Carnaby in Houston, the story of "Washington Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey, and BP's activities on the Gulf Coast in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and President Obama's and incoming Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's past activities in Chicago, those measures were temporary and lasted for as long as I was in the field.
However, I have absolutely no desire to constantly be in fear of the type of a White House-directed or -tolerated hit like that discussed by Nixon aides on Anderson who had the benefit of a degree of support from his syndicate and the newspapers who carried his column, which included The Washington Post.
Preliminary plans are being made to continue the investigative journalism of this website from a safer vantage point abroad and in an environment that provides basic protection for press freedom.
Unfortunately, the United States is no longer a safe place for independent journalists. Today, President Obama kicked off his 2012 presidential campaign in a web video message. Without a Democratic primary challenger, it can be safely assumed that the White House will pull out every arrow in its quiver to suppress negative information about Obama. The mere fact that the announcement of Obama's re-election came on the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King shows that Obama will shamelessly attach himself to the legacy of the much-revered African-American leader with whom he shares no cultural legacy of historical African-Americans with their family histories of slavery in the South and sharecropping. Nor would King, if alive today, approve of any of Obama's pro-war and pro-corporate policies.
With a second Obama term a likelihood, iIt only makes sense, therefore, that the reporting on the "new America" be conducted from a more secure location.
There is an interesting postscript to this story. Not once, during the eight years of the Bush administration, did I ever receive such a credible and direct threat. In fact, after WMR's stories about marital friction between Bush and First Lady Laura Bush received national media attention, there was a communication from a close friend of Mrs. Bush that if I laid off her marital situation, I would be given a major scoop. Knowing that no one should ever cut a deal with the Bush family or their friends, I kindly declined the offer. But whereas the Bush White House was prepared to offer a carrot, the Obama administration appears to favor the stick or another lethal weapon of choice.