Hey, hey LBJ, how many death threats did you get today?
Well, that’s not precisely the slogan anti-war protesters chanted in the 1960s, but author Mel Ayton says the answer to the question is quite possibly more than any president in modern American history.
“Generally speaking, the level of threats each post-war president has faced has remained stable,” Ayton told The Daily Caller in an interview about his new book, “Hunting the President: Threats, Plots and Assassination Attempts — From FDR to Obama.”
“However, from my research, I would hazard a guess that the most -threatened president in American history has to be Lyndon Johnson, mainly because of the Vietnam War,” he continued. “He is possibly the only president who confined his public speaking events to ‘safe’ venues like military bases. The apex of demonstrations against the war during his presidency occurred in 1968 and the Secret Service persuaded Johnson that the level of hatred directed towards him would make it more likely than not fanatical anti-war militant groups or individuals would make an attempt on his life.”
Of course, unlike his predecessor John F. Kennedy, none of the plots against Johnson were successful.
Ayton also reveals in his book that before killing 77 people in 2011, including 69 at a summer camp, Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik plotted to attack President Barack Obama when he was in the country to accept the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.
“Following his arrest for the mass murder, he told Norwegian police he planned to drive a car packed with explosives onto the square next to Oslo City Hall, and detonate it while the Nobel ceremony was taking place,” Ayton explained. “He said the Obama attack would have been largely symbolic, as the security surrounding the visit would have prevented him bringing the vehicle sufficiently close to the ceremony. But, with hundreds of millions watching on television, he believed it would have been a perfect way to promote his anti-Islamic message. He scrapped the plan because security would have been too tight to get close enough to the president. Clearly, the nature of his mass murder plot suggests he could have been a serious threat to Obama’s life.”
See TheDC’s full interview with Ayton on his new book below:
Why did you decide to write the book?
As I researched the assassinations of JFK, RFK and Martin Luther King some years ago, I was intrigued that there was a possibility that many more serious threats to assassinate American leaders may have existed. For example, before Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated JFK, there had been reports that the Secret Service had foiled a number of assassination plots in Tampa, Chicago and Nashville.
I wanted to write something new and original, but I was also aware that the U.S. Secret Service tries to limit publicity about presidential threats and is not disposed to share its secrets. My research therefore had to center around the memoirs of former agents, newspaper archives, public-record U.S. government agency reports, court records and oral histories in presidential libraries. They turned out to be a goldmine of information about the work of the Secret Service and the numerous threats presidents have faced.