Was There a Plot to Kill Obama?

Sunday night, as I arrived with my son to check in at the Cherry Creek Hotel for convention week in Denver, two tough looking men in casual dress walked in to the otherwise-empty lobby behind us. As the men eyed us warily, I thought to myself: either these guys are shady characters, or they're undercover cops. Sure enough, as soon as we had finished registering, one of the men pulled out FBI credentials and told the man at the desk that he and his companion wanted to speak to the night manager. It was clear to me they didn't want us hanging around listening to them. But 10 minutes later, when we came back to the lobby after dropping our belongings in our room, the FBI agents were still there talking earnestly to the man at the desk.

My son and I went out to dinner. Upon our return, I asked the clerk what the FBI wanted. He told me they were doing routine security checks related to the convention. But it now appears there was more at stake. A law-enforcement official familiar with the investigation has told NEWSWEEK that three men are now under arrest in connection with an inquiry into a possible plot to kill Barack Obama. The official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said the three men presently face firearms and drug charges filed by police and prosecutors in Arapahoe County, in the Denver suburbs. The FBI and the Secret Service are deeply involved in the investigation, although no federal charges have been filed to date. The official added that it was unclear at present how real the plot was; further investigation could prove that it was an empty threat, or that the suspects were flakes or loudmouths.

News of the alleged plot was first reported by the local CBS affiliate in Denver and the Rocky Mountain News. The local reports said the investigation was opened after local police in Aurora, Colo., which is located in Arapahoe County, made a traffic stop and discovered two rifles and methamphetamine. Authorities subsequently went to the Cherry Creek Hotel and knocked at the door of a guest in the middle of the night; the guest jumped out of his sixth-floor window but was subsequently recaptured. The man allegedly said something about Obama to authorities, but it could not be ascertained what comments were made, the reports said. Earlier today, I asked federal authorities about the FBI presence at the hotel last night, but officials declined to comment. Tonight, authorities in Aurora and Arapahoe County also couldn't be reached for comment.

Monday evening, the U. S. Attorney's office in Denver issued the following statement confirming an unspecified number of arrests. "This is a methamphetamine and firearms case that arose from a traffic stop made by an Aurora Police officer," the statement read. "Firearms and methamphetamine were seized, and a number of individuals are in state custody. The matter continues to be under investigation. We'll provide more information as it becomes available." A law enforcement source said that prosecutors plan to file federal drug and gun charges against the suspects on Tuesday.