Authorities Arrest Coast Guard Officer Plotting To Kill Journalists, Democrats
A Coast Guard officer and aspiring domestic terrorist was arrested late yesterday for plotting to kill Democratic politicians and members of the media.
Late yesterday, authorities announced the arrest of a Coast Guard officer who had stockpiled weapons and explosives in his suburban Maryland home and was plotting attacks on Democratic politicians and journalists:
A Coast Guard lieutenant and self-described white nationalist who was arrested in Maryland last week was plotting to kill a long list of prominent journalists and Democratic politicians, as well as professors, judges and what he called “leftists in general,” federal prosecutors said in a court filing on Tuesday.
Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, 49, was arrested Friday on gun and drug charges, but prosecutors said in the filing that the charges were just the “proverbial tip of the iceberg.”
The filing argued that Lieutenant Hasson should be held until he is tried, describing him as a “domestic terrorist” who intended “to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”
Prosecutors quoted a letter that he drafted to friends in 2017 and that the authorities found on his computer. In it, Lieutenant Hasson, who works as an acquisitions officer at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, wrote: “I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth. I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed / Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something.”
In the last month, prosecutors said, the lieutenant used his work computer to draw up a list of prominent figures he called “traitors” and wanted to kill, including many well-known anchors and hosts on the CNN and MSNBC news networks and a number of Democratic elected officials. The list included, among others, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Maxine Waters, Senator Richard Blumenthal, whom he referred to as “Sen blumen jew,” and many of the senators running for president in 2020.
He had recently performed internet searches seeking information about whether senators and Supreme Court justices receive Secret Service protection, the court filing said.
In the letter quoted by prosecutors, Lieutenant Hasson wrote about wanting to start a race war, and pondered the best way to do it. “Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch,” he wrote.
He mused about taking advantage of some already tense issue, like the standoff in 2016 between Oregon protesters and the Bureau of Land Management. “Please send me your violence that I may unleash it onto their heads. Guide my hate to make a lasting impression on this world,” he said in the letter.
Lieutenant Hasson served in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993, then approximately two years on active duty in the Army National Guard. He has held his current Coast Guard job since 2016, according to court documents.
A Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. Cdr. Scott McBride, confirmed on Wednesday that one of its service members stationed at headquarters in Washington had been arrested on weapons and drug charges, but declined to comment further on the case. “Because this is an open investigation, the Coast Guard has no further details at this time,” Commander McBride said.
Federal investigators said in the court filing that Lieutenant Hasson had begun stockpiling weapons in 2017. When federal agents searched his cramped basement apartment in Silver Spring, Md., they said, they found a cache of 15 assault rifles, shotguns and handguns and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition that the lieutenant had amassed.
The Program on Extremism at George Washington University called attention to the court filing in Twitter posts on Wednesday. In the filing, the authorities cited writings found on the lieutenant’s computer that point to extreme racist and apocalyptic views.
Shortly after the violence incited by a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, the authorities say, Lieutenant Hasson drafted a letter to a well-known neo-Nazi expressing support for the idea of building a “white homeland” in the Pacific Northwest.
“I never saw a reason for mass protest or wearing uniforms marching around provoking people with swastikas etc.,” he wrote. “I was and am a man of action, you cannot change minds protesting like that. However you can make change with a little focused violence.”
In a passage of the letter quoted in the court filing, Lieutenant Hasson wrote, “I am a long time White Nationalist, having been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military.”
In many respects, of course, this case is similar to that of Ceasar Sayoc, who was arrested in October after a two-week period in which crude pipe bombs that were ultimately traced to him were sent to Democratic figures such as Kamala Harris, Maxine Waters, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George Soros, and others, as well as other Administration critics and members of the media such as former CIA Director John Brennan and others. Mere days after Sayoc was arrested, a man named Robert Bowers walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed eleven people and it was later discovered that he targeted Jewish Americans because of Jewish support for groups that help refugees and that a search of his home revealed a number far-right publications as well as obsession with the refugee “caravans” that President Trump made a prominent part of his push for Republcian candidates in the midterm elections. In those cases, of course, the consequences were far more serious, although the devices that Sayoc mailed out never exploded and may not have been properly assembled.In Hasson’s case, it appears that Coast Guard officials were made aware of concerning content on his work computer that led to the investigation by the F.B.I. that brought us to yesterday’s developments.
Like Sayoc, Hasson appears to have been radicalized by a combination of far-right politics and the Trumpidian atmosphere of the conservative media. Early reports indicate that Hasson was a strong supporter of the President’s, as well as the so-called alt-right that has become an increasingly public presence since the beginning of the Trump Presidency, most notably with the aforementioned “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. While Hasson is solely responsible for his actions, of course, it’s had not that hard to see how he could have been radicalized by the political rhetoric that plays such a large role in the United States today. All one need to do is turn to certain websites or listen to media such as Alex Jones to see and hear the worst of it, but even the material that comes from so-called “mainstream” sources like Fox News Channel.
Fortunately, Hasson was nowhere near being able to actually carry out his plans, but the fact that he was able to stockpile such a large cache of weapons in his small apartment is understandably concerning. It’s also unclear whether Hasson had any co-conspirators or if, like most of the domestic terrorists that have been caught in recent years, he was a lone wolf who was attempting to pull off his plans on his own. Presumably, investigators will look into this issue and that anyone who may have been involved with Hasson in this fortunately averted plot will be held responsible for their actions or failure to act.
Here’s the Criminal Complaint filed against Lt. Hasson:
United States v. Hasson by on Scribd