Four presidents have been assassinated: Abraham Lincoln (1865); James Garfield (1881); William McKinley (1901); and John Kennedy (1963). But none of them received as many death threats as President Barack Obama, according to Secret Service reports.
Since Obama took office in 2008, there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of death threats against him. These potential death threats average some 30 per day, which has meant a sizable increase in the Secret Service details assigned to protect the president.
It may not be enough if crackpots like Christopher Castillo continue to pop up all over the place. Castillo posted a threat on the Internet promising to kill Obama if he were re-elected. “That’s the last straw,” he wrote. “If he gets re-elected, I’m going to hunt him down and kill him–watch the life disappear from his eyes.”
And if the president was standing before him, what would he do, an agent asked him after he was arrested: “I would bitch slap him and beat the s– out of him.” He said he would scream and call Obama a terrorist.
Castillo is by no means alone in expressing such dangerously outrageous promises, but the Secret Service is reluctant to report them all lest there be a flood of copycat attempts, exacerbating an already bad situation.
The percentage increase of death threats mirrors the overall increase in the number of militant right-wing groups since Obama came into office.
An expansion and increase in social media has brought out an unusual number of death threats, and the Secret Service is sometimes challenged to determine which are real and how to go about handling them. The Secret Service has stated that its goal is to immediately respond to any direct threat against the president, the first family, the vice president or visiting heads of state. Then they are responsible for determining the credibility of the threat.
Each time there is a threat, the Secret Service consults with the Protective Intelligence Division in Washington, D.C., to decide how far an investigation is going to go. If a federal arrest takes place, it will lead to the most serious and extreme of the end results.