As threats of violence and death against Presidential candidate Mitt Romney continue to explode on Twitter, Homeland Security officials have said they are taking the threats extremely seriously, while the Secret Service is encouraging Twitter users to “self police” the social media website.
Following Monday’s debate threats by so called Obama supporters to assassinate Mitt Romney continued to proliferate across Twitter. The mainstream media, however, maintained blanket silence on the issue, while some “progressive” websites even accused Infowars and The Drudge Report of dreaming up the story as some kind of racist conspiracy theory.
Now, as the threats continue to be reported, federal and state law enforcement and intelligence officials tell the security news website Homeland Security Today that they are taking the threats “quite seriously,” especially “the threats to kill the President and Gov. Romney,”
“As crazy as some of these conspiracy theories are that accompany some of the threats on these websites, I can assure you that when someone’s threatening the President or advocating destruction of government property … or the kinds of things some of these people on these sites are threatening [or advocating], it’s something we take very seriously — we don’t roll our eyes at it,” one official told the website.
According to the officials, DHS analysts out of the National Operations Center are monitoring the threats extensively and 24/7 via the department’s Social Networking/Media Capability (SNMC) tool.
The officials say they have witnessed “a rise” in “disturbing rhetoric” accompanied by a much heightened level of anger and hate aimed particularly at Mitt Romney, who is now under Secret Service protection leading up to the election.
Anthony L. Kimery, Homeland Security Today’s Online Editor notes:
This reporter searched Twitter with several specialized Twitter search engines using the keywords “Romney,” “Obama,” “kill,” “shoot,” “riot” and other terms to denote violence, and found scores of original Tweets and re-Tweets advocating violent behavior against both the President and Romney. Many more of the Tweets, though, were, in fact, directed against Romney.
Federal officials have reportedly already shared relevant information regarding the threats with federal, state and local law enforcement and intelligence agencies and intelligence fusion centers.
Officials also say that the FBI is aware of the threats and has obtained the identities of specific individuals “of interest” from telecommunications companies.
While the Secret Service admitted last week that they were monitoring the threats, more details have now emerged, as officials speaking with Homeland Security Today say that Secret Service investigations into an undisclosed number of individuals’ “threatening remarks and statements” are underway.
Earlier this week, the Secret Service also took to Twitter to request that users report threatening tweets against politicians. A statement on their official Twitter page asked users “to report a tweet that concerns you, call the nearest field office in your state.”
Despite these developments, the corporate US media has remained virtually mute on the story.
“We can’t afford to take our cues from pundits or anyone else who insists it’s all just a bunch of hooey and politics as usual.” another federal official said.
A senior law enforcement domestic intelligence analyst who has been monitoring the threats added “These are very serious threats whenever you start talking about a lot of people advocating killing the President or Mr. Romney,”.
“We’d be derelict if we weren’t taking these threats seriously … I don’t care how outlandish some of them appear.” the official urged.
While the Twitter users continue to make the threats, the vast majority are clearly unaware that under Public Law 18 USC § 879, it is a felony to “knowingly and willfully threaten to kill … a major candidate for the office of President or Vice President,”. Anyone found guilty of doing so could be punished with a five-year person term.