Secret service probes Obama death threats

America's Secret Service has investigated an alleged death threat against Democrat Barack Obama that was yelled out at a rally for his Republican rival John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin.

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The probe – by the service that protects US presidents, past and present, visiting world leaders and US presidential candidates – stems from a report by The Washington Post about a shout, “kill him,” heard during the rally when Obama's name came up.

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The alleged threat was made when Palin was speaking of Obama's relations with former 1960s radical Bill Ayers, whose group “The Weathermen” carried out a series of attacks in protest against the Vietnam War.

“We take every threat very seriously. Every time we receive or are reported information like that, we follow up,” said Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan.

Smear campaign

However, he cautioned that at the McCain rally, “no Secret Service agent overheard any threatening statement and no threatening statements were reported by law enforcement or the general public.”

“We did make some inquiries after the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that a someone had yelled 'kill him,'” he added.

Donovan said it wasn't clear whether the threat was actually said or, if so, if it was meant for Obama or even Ayers, both of whose names were uttered by Palin at that moment in her speech.

For those reasons, he added, the investigation was dropped.

Personal attacks against Obama from the McCain campaign have been increasing lately, with McCain and other Republican speakers tossing barbs at rallies ranging from “socialist,” “terrorist” to “liar.””