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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Threats Against Obama Spiked Early

WASHINGTON — The young Marine’s rogue mission, laid out with maps and photographs, was as straightforward as it was chilling. He called it Operation Patriot.

The Marine, Kody Brittingham, a 20-year-old lance corporal, wrote that he had taken an oath to “protect against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.” In a signed “letter of intent,” tucked away in his barracks at Camp Lejeune, he identified a “domestic enemy” he planned to eliminate last winter: President Obama.

The details of this threat, which were revealed at his arraignment hearing in North Carolina, have not previously been reported. Mr. Brittingham pleaded guilty in August and awaits sentencing on charges of threatening to kill the president and attempted armed robbery.

It is one of the cases in a spike of threats against Mr. Obama before his inauguration and in the early months of his presidency, raising deep concerns inside the Secret Service and at the White House.

The threats have leveled off in recent months, officials said, and Mr. Obama now receives about the same as his two most recent predecessors. But several officials said they took no solace that the volume of reports had receded because it was the nature of the threats that concern them and because the factors behind the increase remain — Mr. Obama’s race prime among them.

While the story of the Virginia couple who crashed a state dinner last month has drawn much attention to the security around Mr. Obama, it is threats from far beyond the White House gates that have most turned up the pressure on the Secret Service.


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