As Congress entered the final round of debate Sunday over the controversial health insurance reform bill, a self-described conservative blogger used his public Twitter account to urge the assassination of President Barack Obama. U.S. Secret Service spokesperson Max Milien confirms to DailyFinance: "We are aware of the actual posting and are actively investigating." A request for comment from a Twitter spokesperson hasn't been returned.
As the blog Jezebel has reported, Soloman (Solly) Forell, apparently enraged by the impending passage of the health insurance reform bill, used his Twitter account to call for the assassination of Barack Obama, while also tweeting that since the country survived the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy, "we'll surely get over" this one, too.
But Forell later recanted his apparent threats. "I have no intent, desire or motivation to harm the POTUS," he told DailyFinance by email. "I can't imagine why you're interested in my recent tweets." he added. "Oddly enough, they've caused more of a stir than they were designed to."
"Let Us All Renounce the Harsh Rhetoric"
As Jezebel notes, making threats against the president is a federal crime, per 18 USC Sec. 871:
Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
Forell's threats were made Sunday morning -- and prompted an outcry. His response? "Attention Whining Liberals: No one wants to hurt the precious #EMPEROR. Stop your crying. The whole lot of you are a modern day joke. #tcot"
Forell's tweets used the Twitter "hashtag" of "#tcot" -- which stands for "top conservatives on twitter." That's a list of conservatives on Twitter. Using such a filter makes it easy to find tweets by anyone who uses that tag (#tcot, in this case) to search Twitter.
Hours later, perhaps realizing the severity of his comments, the blogger backtracked, posting, "Let us all renounce the harsh rhetoric about the POTUS [president of the U.S.]. Several, including myself, hv used inappropriate language. Let's remain civil! #tcot."
This isn't the first time social media have been used as a platform to make threats against Obama. In October, a teenager posted a poll on Facebook asking if the president should be killed. The Secret Service later said the incident was "a mistake," and the teen wasn't charged.
With the Secret Service now investigating Forell's Tweets, it remains to be seen if charges will be brought in this case.