In this seemingly scant, New York Times story of what seems to be a major event, we are told “An Idaho man accused of firing an assault rifle at the White House believed he was Jesus and thought President Barack Obama was the anti-Christ. He had become increasingly agitated with the federal government, and at one point suggested the president was planning to implant computer tracking chips into children, according to court documents and those who knew him.
“Oscar Ramiro Ortega Hernandez, 21 was charged Thursday [November 17, 2011] with attempting to assassinate the president or his staff. He is accused of firing nine rounds at the White House last Friday night [November 11th]—one of them cracking a window of the first family’s living quarters—when Obama and the first lady were away. If convicted, Ortega faces up to life in prison. . . .” It was also not clear if the Obama children were at the White House; and if so, up or asleep, and what time the shooting took place. Bit of untidy reporting here.
What is amazing is that Ortega-Hernandez drove up to the White House in his car, abandoned it shortly after the shooting, leaving nine spent shell casings on the floor of the car, plus the weapon, an assault rifle with scope, and took off for somewhere in Pennsylvania where he was caught when a Pennsylvania hotel clerk recognized his face and turned him in. No sweat for the cops.
If I were a psychologist, I would say that the child in Hernandez’s mind is himself, like a figure in a dream, always the dreamer. And that conceivably he was the victim of the “computer tracking chip implanted in his head,” ala a Manchurian candidate task. Whether or not the staple was literal or some form of brain-washing program is moot. The fact that he could drive so robotically close to the White House, then shoot, either from inside or outside his car, getting off nine shots, without Secret Service alarm bells going off, then calmly abandon the car and walk away, has a shadow of Lee Harvey Oswald’s purported behavior or of a Sirhan Sirhan, or John Hinckley who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan as part of his obsession with actress Jody Foster.
The Times goes on to say, “In Idaho Falls, where Ortega-Hernandez is from, a computer consultant told The Associated Press that the two met July 8 after Ortega asked for help editing a 30-minute infomercial. Monte McCall said that during the meeting at Ortega’s family’s Mexican restaurant, Ortega pulled out worn sheets of yellow paper with handwritten notes and started to talk about his predictions that the world would end in 2012.”
But Hernandez said to this perfect stranger, ‘Well, you know the president is getting ready to make an announcement that they’re going to put GPS chips in all the children, so they’re safe,’” McCall said. And then Ortega added, ‘That’s just what the anti-Christ is going to do to, mark everybody.’” Okay, I play psychologist again: his religious orientation is conservative Christian, given the black/white good/evil, Christ/anti-Christ paradigm. Or else, he’s running on something like the CIA-Program ARTICHOKE, left over from the 60s.
It was designed literally to create assassins, not unlike Mark David Chapman, who killed John Lennon. After firing five shots at Lennon, which would kill him, he calmly sat down on the sidewalk of the inner driveway of the Dakota where Lennon lived, put his gun on the ground, and patiently waited for the cops to come. He never attempted to dash into the subway right around the corner of West 72nd Street and Central Park West.
But who would talk that openly to a stranger, the computer consultant, about a crime of that magnitude? It’s a built-in confession. Also, given the level of resentment from the right and extreme right towards Barack Obama, this could have been a warning signal being sent to him, or even an internal government assassination plan, utilizing a hapless, over-zealous conservative Christian, for whatever reason. Blame it on their zeal.
Or it could have been politically motivated with an election year not far away, to fulfill Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party’s central wish that Obama should not have a second term, no matter what. Just as JFK never finished his first term, with a little help from his enemies at the CIA, the Pentagon, LBJ, Big Oil, the Fed, Mafia, Mossad, Allan Dulles, and all the anti-Castro wingnuts who blamed him for the humiliating defeat at the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
“Kimberly Allen, the mother of Ortega’s former fiancé, said he had been well-mannered and kind in the four years she had known him. But he recently began making statements to her daughter that were out of character, including that he believed he was Jesus.” That sudden change in behavior is worth noting. “Allen said the family was worried when he went to Utah recently, where he said he had business, and didn’t come back. Ortega’s family reported him missing Oct. 31.” She also said “they were flabbergasted to hear he was wanted in Washington.”
“Her daughter, Jessica Galbraith, was engaged to Ortega and is the mother of their 2-year old son. She declined to comment Thursday except to say: ‘I love him, and I’m here for him.’” Why or when they split was not clear. But one might imagine the personality change had a hand in it.
“Ortega’s public defender, Christopher Brown, declined comment after his first hearing in Pennsylvania,” reports the Times. “Ortega’s mother has said he has no history of mental illness, though, authorities had reported he had ‘mental health issues’ when looking for him.” I believe Ortega’s mom Maria Martinez is in denial.
“She also said, after telling the Post Register in Idaho Falls her son had no history of mental illness . . . He has different ideas than other people, just like everyone, but he was perfectly fine the last time I saw him,” adding “He might be saying weird stuff that sounds crazy, but that doesn’t mean [he] is crazy. He might be confused and scared.” Or not, but set on his programmed course. That is, unless this is pure insane showbiz, done to attract attention. But at what cost—a life sentence? Better to audition for American Idol.
If you think that’s too strange, don’t. He actually made a videotape of his plans and sent it to the Oprah Winfrey show to air. He looks like a different man in it than the one in the Times photograph.
“Idaho television station KBOI posted the video, and reported that Secret Service agents had traveled to the eastern part of the state to retrieve it. In the 20-minute clip, Hernandez, clad in his black-striped coat with a cross hanging from his neck, reads intently from a notebook. ‘My name is Oscar Ortega, from Idaho Falls, Idaho, and I feel like I am the perfect candidate to get casted onto your show,’ he begins, before launching into a freewheeling monologue that touches on everything from gang violence to guardian angels to drugs.”
Nevertheless, he operated in a very reasonable, methodical manor, eluding arrest near the White House, walking from his car after his mission was accomplished. The crazy part is leaving all the evidence behind: the car, most probably registered to him, the rifle, and shells. I mean it’s a detective’s dream case, a no-brainer. But was it? It seems too simple. Perhaps getting caught was part of his dream, too.
As the Times writes, “At his first appearance in court in Pennsylvania, Ortega sat quietly, his hands free but his feet shackled [not stapled]. He only said, ‘Yes, ma’am’ when he was asked if he understood that he would be going back to Washington to face the charge.” There is no outburst of rage; no ifs, ifs or buts. Only “Yes ma’am.”
Does he really understand the charge—that the rest of his life is on the line? Was there any psychological testing done by the court? As I see it, he’s a prime candidate for a mental institution for the criminally insane as a putative assassin of the president of the United States. Perhaps this is the fulfillment of his dream, the stapling of the lamb, the leading of the patsy to the block, and chop goes the rest of his life. Mark David Chapman opted out of a psychological facility and remains in a conventional prison.
Frankly, if I were Obama, I’d be asking these same questions to lots of people, including staff members, the Secret Service and the FBI. And examining whatever footage may exist in surveillance cameras (if any) circling the gates of the White House or near the abandoned car. After all, by now, history should have taught us a few things about high-profile political assassinations and their attempts.
This is not the first time the White House has come under attack, though it’s a first of its kind.
As the Times writes, “In the last 40 years, the landmark has faced threats ranging from a stolen helicopter that landed on the grounds in 1974 to a man who wielded a sawed-off shotgun on a sidewalk outside in 1984. In 1994 alone, there were five threats including a plane crash on the lawn and a suspected drive-by shooting. Another man fired at least 29 rounds from a semiautomatic weapon, with 11 striking the White House.”
“There was also an assassination attempt on President Harry Truman’s life on November 1, 1950. It was perpetrated by two Puerto Rican pro-independence activists, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola, while the President resided at the Blair House. The attempt resulted in the deaths of White House Police officer Leslie Coffelt, and Torresola, while President Harry S. Truman was not harmed,” writes Wiki.
“Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who served on the presidential details for Obama and President George W. Bush, said Friday’s shooting would likely mean tighter security and coordination.” I should hope so. And no more gate crashers at the Obama State dinners.
He concluded, “They do an exhaustive review of their security procedures every time something like this happens,” said Bongino, who recently left the Secret Service to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland. “Nothing ever works perfectly. They will undress this completely and then they will find out when they rebuild the incident exactly what they could have done better.” Sometimes too little done upfront is too late to do post-tragedy. And its success would be a hard way to find out. As to our latest Lone Gunman (if he was), it should be interesting to see where he lands.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer, life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.