Don Williams
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Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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Can We Trust Our Government to Protect Obama?
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   03/02/2008)

A lifetime ago a friend asked, “What do you make of Barack Obama?”

My unrehearsed response: “When I see Obama, I see a dead man walking. Do you honestly believe they'll ever let him be our president?”

“They who?”

My follow-up answer was clumsy. All I had was speculation. By “they” did I mean the special interests Obama often derides? Elements in the military-industrial complex who are used to dealing death, have billions at stake and who, no doubt, prefer McCain's vision of staying in Iraq for another century to Obama's get-out-quick approach? Or was I referring to old-time racists, the sort who use the N-word and once made a hobby out of burning crosses and lynching folks? Maybe I meant some deranged fame-thief, one who kills in order to seize the spotlight from his victim, or a paranoiac, whipped to fever pitch by fear-mongers on talk radio who paint Obama as an unpatriotic Muslim?

Could be I've seen too many assassinations in my time—John F. Kennedy, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, John Lennon, Benazir Bhutto---or read of too many plots by America's shadow government (Google “Operation Northwoods”). Whatever's at work, I've always had doubts Obama would be allowed to become our president. I've been shy about saying this publicly, because I don't like putting unproven ideas out there, especially when they could be misread as arguments against Obama's candidacy. As regular readers know, I'm in his corner.

Still, a sane person must acknowledge that any number of people might want to kill Obama. Personally, it's our own government that worries me most. I say this fresh from reading an article by Jack Douglas Jr. that ran Feb. 21 in the “Dallas Star-Telegram” under this headline: "Police Concerned About Order to Stop Weapons Screening at Obama Rally." Here's an excerpt.

"DALLAS—Security details at Barack Obama's rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena.

"The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

"Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department's homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order—apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service—was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena's vacant seats before Obama came on.

“ `Sure,' said Lawrence, when asked if he was concerned by the great number of people who had gotten into the building without being checked. But, he added, the turnout of more than 17,000 people seemed to be a `friendly crowd.'”

“Seemed to be a `friendly crowd.'” Unbelievable. Few crowds appear friendlier than the one in old films of Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963, at the moment John F. Kennedy's motorcade made its memorable turn into history.

It's impossible to say whether there's more to the Star-Telegram story than meets the eye. Allen L. Roland brings a chilling perspective in his Weblog at

“My one growing concern as the Obama movement continues to gain momentum is that the Military / Industrial complex will do anything in their power to remove threats to their power---and that certainly would include political leaders who do not believe in Bush's illegal war, occupation and economic rape of Iraq.

“The Secret Service apparently ordered the Dallas police to shut down their weapons screening an hour before a major Obama rally….”

Lionize or despise them, but many in our Secret Service, the CIA, Special Forces and other government entities are trained to cast a cold eye on human life. In my opinion our president and vice-president have amply demonstrated a perverse fascination and/or casual acceptance of those who deal death. Whether it's blowing up frogs with firecrackers, as Bush reportedly did as a boy, sending deranged criminals to their execution in Texas, as he did as a governor, blowing away animals released from cages on hunting preserves, as Dick Cheney likes to do, dealing death by remote control drones or by ordering shock-and-awe on thousands in Iraq, as both men are complicit in. At the same time they've revealed an aversion to accounting for such killings.

Bearing in mind that cavalier attitude toward death, we all should make it our business to demand that our government provide for the safety of all candidates for president. The recent lapse in Dallas should be investigated. It's important to learn just who in the Secret Service made the decision to call off the weapons screening. Or did that order come from higher up? If so, just how high up? We now know the torture at Abu Ghraib was sanctioned at the highest levels of government. Who ultimately controls the Secret Service?

I urge you to write letters, email your government, and pass this commentary around. As Obama gains momentum in his sweep toward a triumph that seems ever more inevitable, we should all insist that our government keep him as safe as they keep Bush and Cheney. Too many special interests, too many bigots, too many sensation-seekers, fame-thieves and worse will be motivated to commit murder if our government, consciously or not, gives them the green light. If Obama should be assassinated, then watch the country explode. Why would anyone in our government risk that?

The fact that a security lapse would've been permitted in Dallas, of all places, is more than ominous.

It's telling.