Family says Obama plotter no threat

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. - The family of one of two suspects accused of plotting to kill black people and assassinate Barack Obama said yesterday that the teen disliked blacks and considered himself part of a "master race," but they doubted the plot was serious.

Paul Schlesselman, 18, had dropped out of school and was looking for work, his family said at their rural Arkansas home yesterday. They believed he was in Texas when the Secret Service arrived Friday to seize a computer hard-drive and notebooks of drawings.

"He just believes that he's the master race," said his sister, Kayla Schlesselman, 16, who said he was "sorry about everything he has done." She said that she had often argued with him about his racial beliefs. "He would just say things like 'white power' and 'Sieg Heil' and 'Heil Hitler.' "

But she and her father, Mike, both said they didn't believe he was capable of carrying out an attack. "I think it's just a lot of talk," his father said. "He would never do something like this."

Schlesselman is charged, along with Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., with planning the killing spree, starting at an unnamed black school and culminating in them, in white tuxes and top hats, shooting Obama from a moving car. Authorities described the two as white supremacists who met on the Internet about a month ago. The charges were made public Monday.

Cowart and Schlesselman are charged by federal authorities with possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms and threatening a candidate for president. They were being held without bond.

Authorities describe the two as neo-Nazi skinheads. They were taken into custody the night of Oct. 22, according to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives Agent Brian Weeks. Authorities pulled them over because they had shot out the window of a church and used sidewalk chalk to draw racially motivated words and a swastika on Cowart's car, he said.

Authorities have said that they took the threats seriously. Obama's campaign has not commented on the allegations. *