Secret Service investigating Jewish newspaper column that discussed Obama assassination

The Secret Service said it is looking into a recent op-ed from an Atlanta publisher that floated the idea of green-lighting Israeli Mossad agents to assassinate President Obama in order to improve Israel's security against enemies like Iran.

The publisher and author, Andrew Adler, reportedly has apologized.

But Jewish advocacy groups condemned his comments as "outrageous," and Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said the agency is "aware" of the incident.

"We're conducting the appropriate investigative steps," he told

Ogilvie would not comment on whether Adler has been contacted or whether his column was deemed a potential threat to the president.

In the Jan. 13 column in the Atlanta Jewish Times, Adler floated three scenarios for how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would deal with a nuclear Iran and other threats in the region.

Adler wrote that Israel could order a strike on Hezbollah and Hamas, or a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

A third option, he wrote, would be to "give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States' policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies."

Leaving no question about what he was suggesting, Adler went on:

"Yes, you read 'three' correctly. Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel's existence. Think about it. If I have thought of this Tom Clancy-type scenario, don't you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel's most inner circles? Another way of putting 'three' in perspective goes something like this: How far would you go to save a nation comprised of 7 million lives...Jews, Christians and Arabs alike?"

Adler later told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he will publish an apology. "I very much regret it," he said.

But Jewish advocacy groups were outraged.

Abraham H. Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, said there is "no excuse" for that kind of rhetoric.

"It doesn't even belong in fiction. These are irresponsible and extremist words. It is outrageous and beyond the pale. An apology cannot possibly repair the damage," he said in a statement. "Mr. Adler's lack of judgment as a publisher, editor and columnist raises serious questions as to whether he's fit to run a newspaper."

The National Jewish Democratic Council described the comments as "despicable."

"It is the height of irresponsibility to make the horrific suggestion that the State of Israel should assassinate the President of the United States of America," NJDC President David Harris said in a statement. "To dare to give such despicable ideas space in a newspaper -- no less in the words of the paper's owner and publisher, and a Jewish newspaper at that -- is beyond the pale."

Adler has not responded to a request from for comment.

The website Gawker first reported, and posted, the column.