More than a dozen Twitter accounts that were used as a medium to publically threaten Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s life after the second presidential debate remain active, nearly two weeks later. This news comes after the Secret Service told this publication that it was “aware” of these very threats on Romney’s life.
Likewise, also on October 17, soon after the second presidential debate ended, Twitter user @Jasmineuribe proclaimed, “At this point in time I am completely prepared to MURDER ROMNEY MYSELF!” She continues to remain active on Twitter.
And @GoToSLEEP_Hoe tweeted, “Somebody should assassinate Romney...” That user, too, remains very active.
The list goes on—and on. (Such as, users: @LoudJet_Life, @alyy_joee, @iBeBlowinUrMind, @AllHaleDeja_, @4shogbmg, @DamnGurlYuNasty, @LosHomocidio, @m_So_Sinqleee, @ItsCeddyB, @_KingKiera, @emma_rizzuto, @_OVO_Libra. Check Twitchy here, for the original report on threats to Romney’s life after the debate.)
The Secret Service, which maintains that it is currently investigating these specific threats, would not reveal or discuss the specifics of its activities, but it appears these users who made these threats have not (yet) been arrested—or even banned from Twitter.
“The Secret Service receives intelligence information from a wide variety of sources; general public, local law enforcement, federal agencies, intelligence agencies,” Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary tells me. “This also includes information received from Twitter.”
Leary continues: “Any time we receive information we have to make an assessment on things like veracity and/or urgency while also considering context and dangerousness. Once the assessment is made the appropriate follow up has to be determined.”
And once the agency is determined that follow up is necessary, according to the Secret Service spokesman, there are a “wide range” of options: “from a conversation determining someone’s intent all the way up to working with the local U.S. Attorney’s Office on prosecuting someone.”
When asked whether the Secret Service is taking these Twitter threats seriously, Leary responded, “Yes, we do take them seriously. We look into them.”
But the spokesman would not say whether any of the original users who first attracted attention were even approached by the Secret Service.
The Secret Service is the federal agency tasked with protecting the president, vice president, their families, and “Major presidential and vice presidential candidates.” According to the Secret Service spokesman, the agency does not prioritize one protectee over another—as in, threats to the president of the United States would not necessarily be taken more seriously than threats to a major presidential candidate for president of the United States.
But when a man burned an effigy of President Barack Obama in his California yard, the Secret Service showed up the very next day.
“Residents of a quiet southern California neighbourhood were shocked by a neighbour's decision to hang an effigy of President Obama in his front garden and even more astonished when the Secret Service came calling at his house a day later,” the Daily Mail reports.
“Agents arrived at the home of Eddie Million on Tuesday night after police received a complaint on Monday, and questioned the Moreno Valley man as to why he chose to hang a replica of the president from a tree.
“Mr Million's tasteless Halloween decor has offended many as the image of Mr Obama - and in a wider context, an African American man - hanging from a noose, raised questions about the homeowner's motives and views on race. An embarrassed Mr Million told The Press-Enterprisethat the prank had not intended in any way to suggest he wished the president dead.”
As for the Twitter users, the Secret Service spokesman insists they can be tracked down—and not simply hide behind a veil of anonymity.
“Is it possible to identify these people?” says Leary. “Absolutely. We have the capabilities.”
A Twitter spokesman confirmed that threats against one’s life violate the social platform’s rules for conduct, but was seemingly unaware of these specific threats against Romney.