'Let the violence begin': death threats against Sen. Patty Murray

Charles Alan Wilson of Selah, Wash., allegedly made phone calls threatening to kill Sen. Patty Murray because she supported the new healthcare reform law. He was arrested Tuesday.

By , Staff writer

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    Sen. Patty Murray (D) of Washington during the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions markup of a comprehensive healthcare bill. The FBI has arrested a man who threatened to kill Senator Murray because of her support for healthcare reform.
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A Washington State man was arrested Tuesday on charges that he repeatedly threatened to kill US Sen. Patty Murray because of her support of the recently passed healthcare reform law.

Charles Alan Wilson of Selah, Wash., left at least 13 expletive-laced messages on an answering machine at Senator Murray’s Seattle office in recent weeks.

Staffers notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Although the caller had been blocking his telephone number, an agent traced the calls through telephone company records to Mr. Wilson’s home telephone.

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An undercover agent then telephoned Wilson, posing as a political opponent of the healthcare law. Wilson used several of the same phrases recorded on the answering machine, and agents concluded both voices belonged to the same person.

'There's a target on your back now'

“I hope you realize there’s a target on your back now,” Wilson told Murray in a message recorded on the morning of March 22, according to an FBI affidavit. “There are many people out there that want you dead. Just remember that as you are politicing [sic] for your reelection. It only takes one piece of lead… Kill the … senator! Kill the … senator! I’ll donate the lead. Now that you’ve passed your healthcare bill, let the violence begin.”

The next day, Wilson called again – five times. “I hope somebody kills you, and I hope somebody kills [the president],” he said. “You are signing my death warrant, so I want to sign yours.”

The case illustrates the dangerous and sordid underbelly of the current angry mood in the country. And it underscores the risk that can arise from supercharged rhetoric used by some leaders that seems designed to feed the anger.

Prosecutors note that it is a federal crime to threaten a US government official. Such threats are punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“Free speech is the cornerstone of our democratic process, and we are a country of vigorous debate,” said Assistant US Attorney Todd Greenberg. “However, threats of violence have no place in that debate. The threats here crossed the line and violate the law.”

According to a 10-page FBI affidavit, Wilson said the senator would be a target for the rest of her life.

Undercover FBI agent recorded detailed threats

“How long do you think you can hide?... It could be a senior citizen, could be a veteran, could be a mad momma, an upset momma,” Wilson is quoted as saying. “By your attempts to overtake this country with socialism, somebody’s gonna get to you one way or another and blow your … brains out, and I hope it does happen. If I have the chance, I would do it.”

Wilson added: “You low-life, backstabbing, lying, cheating politicians are going to be held accountable. And hopefully it is with your life.”

Wilson said he was a political independent, neither Republican nor Democrat. “I’m not a tea party bagger,” he said in one message.

“There are a lot more of us. There are a lot of crazy people out there, and your security [guards] may stay with you for a long time, but somebody will get through,” he warned.

Wilson even recorded a message on Easter Sunday. He noted that the senator had given a speech recently in Yakima. “We were outside waiting for you,” Wilson said in the message.

During his conversation with the undercover FBI agent, Wilson admitted that he carries a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver. He said he will not “blink” when confronted. “It’s not a threat, it’s a guarantee.”

Wilson also allegedly told the undercover agent that both Senator Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D), also of Washington, “need to be strung up.”

“I will take no prisoners,” he said. “And I don’t care what they think. They want to come throw me in jail, they can go ahead and do that. That’s fine.”

It was a pretty good prediction. That’s exactly what happened Tuesday.

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