Attempt to Assassinate Clinton Fails

Three men face possible terms of life in prison after being arrested for allegedly planning to assassinate President Clinton and other government officials using a cactus thorn coated with a deadly toxin.

Johnnie Wise, 72, Jack Abbott Grebe Jr., 43, and Oliver Dean Emigh, 63, were charged with conspiracy to use "weapons of mass destruction" after their July 1 arrests in Olmito, Texas, near the Mexican border.

The men allegedly told informants that they were members of the Republic of Texas, an antigovernment group that believes Texas is an independent nation. (Republic leader Richard McLaren was sentenced to 111 years in prison after ordering the kidnapping of a neighbor couple and then engaging in a seven-day standoff with law enforcement officials in the spring of 1997.)

According to an affidavit, Wise and Grebe told an FBI informant that they planned to modify a cigarette lighter so it would expel air instead of propane in order to fire a cactus needle tipped with anthrax, botulism or the AIDS virus.

All three men had allegedly sent threatening E-mail to Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno, FBI Director Louis Freeh and others.