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Late Sen. Wellstone's FBI File: Vietnam Protest Arrest, Death Threats

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Newscom

  • After Wellstone took office in 1991, the agency investigated several death threats made to his office. Wellstone, always vehemently anti-war, had made his first major vote in the Senate one against authorizing military force against Iraq in the first Gulf War. Callers to Wellstone's office threatened to "throttle" the senator and otherwise harm him. The FBI tracked down one of the callers, who admitted to making the call, but did not prosecute him. The file also shows that Wellstone was assigned protective detail for a week in 1995 after a caller said, "I'm watching you senator and I'm going to kill you within the week."

  • In October 2002, just days before facing Republican Norm Coleman on Election Day, Wellstone was killed in a plane crash. His wife, daughter, three staffers and the pilots were also killed. Although the National Transportation Safety Board led the investigation into the crash itself, the FBI followed several potential criminal leads. The file shows that agents questioned witnesses of the crash -- one of whom claimed he heard gunshots before the plane went down -- as well as pilots and mechanics with the company that flew the plane.

  • The FBI also looked into a claim made by a caller who claimed that the American Trucking Association, angry that Wellstone was planning hearings into organized crime in the trucking industry, arranged to have the plane's de-icers broken. Staff found that no such hearing was planned.

    The FBI closed the case in May 2004, 18 months after the crash.

    Read the full story here.

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