As Congresswoman Giffords Lies in Medically-Induced Coma, Homeland Security Memo Says Alleged Gunman Who Killed Six and Wounded 14 Outside Tucson Supermarket May Have Been Influenced By Newsletter Published By 'White Nationalist' Think Tank; Federal Judge Killed in Rampage Got Death Threats in 2009 Immigration Lawsuit
A KILLER WITH A CAUSE? -- Jared Lee Loughner, shown in this 2006 photo from the yearbook of his high school, faces at least five federal charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with Saturday's shooting rampage outside a Tucson, Arizona supermarket that killed six people and wounded 14 others, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona), while the congresswoman was holding a meet-and-greet with constituents. A leaked Department of Homeland Security memorandum said that Loughner may have been motivated to kill Giffords by a newsletter published by a white-supremacist think tank. (Photo courtesy Tucson Police Department)
(Posted 5:30 a.m. Monday, January 10, 2011)
MONDAY NEWS EXTRA
By SKEETER SANDERS
As an Arizona congresswoman lay in a medically-induced coma in a Tucson hospital a day after she was shot in the head at nearly point-blank range during a meet-and-greet with constituents, evidence mounted Sunday that the alleged gunman had plotted to assassinate her -- and that the plot may have been politically motivated.
Jared Lee Loughner, 22, of Tucson was formally charged by federal officials Sunday on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of attempting to kill a member of Congress in the shooting spree outside a local supermarket that killed six people -- including a federal judge, an aide to Giffords and a nine-year-old girl -- and wounded 14 others, including two other members of Giffords' staff.
Meanwhile, a memorandum by the Department of Homeland Security disclosed by Fox News on Sunday said that Loughner may have been influenced by a newsletter published by a white-supremacist think tank.
LOUGHNER POSTED ONLINE REFERENCES TO WHITE-SUPREMACIST NEWSLETTER
The memo noted that Loughner had made several references in postings on his MySpace page to American Renaissance, a newsletter and Web site operated by the New Century Foundation, a group described by the Anti-Defamation League as a white-supremacist organization that "promotes pseudo-scientific studies that attempt to demonstrate the intellectual and cultural superiority of whites and publishes articles on the supposed decline of American society because of integrationist social policies."
The Foundation was founded in 1990 and is headed by Jared Taylor, who also edits American Renaissance. While the newsletter "generally avoids the crude bigotry and stereotyping characteristic of many other racist publications and Taylor himself personally refrains from anti-Semitism," according to the ADL, "Taylor promotes his views by attacking racial, ethnic, and religious diversity, which he calls 'one of the most divisive forces on the planet' and therefore 'dangerous.'"
In a separate report, the hate-group watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center says that American Renaissance "regularly features proponents of eugenics and blatant anti-black racists" and that the New Century Foundation "also sponsors conferences every other year where racist "intellectuals" rub shoulders with Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists."
NEWSLETTER DENIES LINKS TO LOUGHNER -- EVEN AS IT BOASTS OF 'WHITE UPRISING' AGAINST OBAMA
For its part, American Renaissance hotly denied having any connection to Loughner. In a statement posted on its Web site Sunday, the newsletter claimed that the DHS memo "is so hopelessly wrong that it is hard to believe it is a genuine government document.
"No one by the name of Loughner has ever been a subscriber to American Renaissance or has ever registered for an American Renaissance conference," the statement said. "We have no evidence that he has even visited the AR website.
"American Renaissance condemns violence in the strongest possible terms, and nothing that has ever appeared in it pages could be interpreted as countenancing it," the statement said.
Yet even as the newsletter denied having any connection to Loughner, the lead article in its January 2011 issue touted "a dramatic uprising against the policies of President Obama and the Democratic Congress" in the November midterm elections, specifically citing "the decisive factor of the white vote" in making "the crucial difference as Republicans scored historic gains in dozens of elections both state and nationwide."
The article was headlined, "The Great White Wave."
LONG BEFORE ATTACK LOUGHNER WAS SHOWING TROUBLE SIGNS
Loughner posted numerous anti-government rants on his MySpace and Twitter pages. Both social networking sites quickly took Loughner's pages offline.
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told reporters at a news conference that the suspect had a YouTube channel under an account called "ClassItUp10." Loughner's YouTube profile stated, among other things, that some of his favorite books were Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto, George Orwell's Animal Farm and Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.
One video told viewers that they "don't have to accept the federalist laws," called for a return to the gold standard, and accused the government of mind-controlling and brainwashing the citizenry.
Loughner attended Pima Community College in Tucson until college authorities suspended him last fall after receiving complaints of inappropriate behavior in class. Loughner chose in October to drop out rather than having the mental health evaluation and clearance which would have been required for him to re-enroll.
According to court records, Loughner had two previous offenses, one of which was for drug possession.
U.S. Army officials said that Loughner had attempted to enlist, but his application had been rejected as "unqualified" for service in 2008. They declined further comment due to confidentiality rules, but military sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said Loughner had failed a urine test, disqualifying him for service.
GIFFORDS PUT IN MEDICALLY-INDUCED COMA AFTER SURGERY
Doctors at the University Health Center in Tucson said Sunday that although Giffords was shot in the head at nearly point-blank range, the bullet did not strike any critical parts of her brain. "This was a devastating wound that traveled the length of the brain on the left side," Dr. Peter Rhee, the hospital's trauma director, told reporters during a press conference.
The bullet entered the back of Gifford's head and exited through her forehead, according to her family. She was put in a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator after surgery that doctors said will help her brain rest and recover.
The next few days and weeks will be critical to determine how much brain function Giffords has lost, if any. Also of importance is how much swelling there is of the left side of Gifford's brain and whether she'll be able to recover speech and movement on the right side of her body, which the left side of the brain controls. "Brain swelling is the biggest threat at this point," Dr. Michael Lemole, chief of neurosurgery at the University of Arizona, told ABC News.
FEDERAL JUDGE KILLED IN RAMPAGE GOT DEATH THREATS IN 2009
Among the six people killed in Saturday's rampage was John Roll, the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Judge Roll, 63, was not appearing at Representative Gifford's event in his judicial capacity, but rather as a courtesy visit, according to AZ Central.com, the Web site of The Arizona Republic newspaper of Phoenix.
A statement posted Sunday on the district court's Web site called Roll's death "a grievous loss," hailing him as "a warm, compassionate judge and inspirational leader in what is one of the busiest districts in the country. His death will leave a significant void in the District of Arizona and the entire federal judiciary, and we are all deeply saddened."
Roll was appointed to the federal bench in 1991 by then-President George H.W. Bush and had served as chief judge of the district since 2006.
Roll had presided over some of Arizona's most contentious court battles, many of them having to do with illegal immigration. At the time of his death, Roll was the presiding judge in a federal lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of a recently-imposed ban on Latino ethnic studies in the Tucson Unified School District.
Roll had previously received numerous death threats in 2009 while he presided over a $32 million civil-rights lawsuit filed by illegal immigrants against an Arizona rancher who made citizens' arrests. A jury dismissed the plaintiffs' claims of civil-rights violations, but did find the rancher liable for assault against several of the plaintiffs.
During the trial, Roll informed everyone in the courtroom that he had received telephoned death threats and that court security would be tightened. Passions over illegal immigration were running so high that Roll's office received more than 200 threatening phone calls in a single day.
Callers threatened not only Judge Roll, but also and his family. "They said, 'We should kill him. He should be dead,'" U.S. Marshal David Gonzalez told The Arizona Republic at the time.
THE YOUNGEST VICTIM: A GIRL BORN ON THE DAY OF THE 9/11 ATTACKS
The youngest victim of Loughner's alleged rampage was only nine years old -- and, as it turned out, her life both began and ended amidst a major national tragedy.
Christina Taylor Green, the youngest granddaughter of former Philadelphia Phillies manager Dallas Green, was born on September 11, 2001 as the nation was reeling in shock from the terrorist attacks that destroyed the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and killed more than 3,300 people.
Ironically, Christina had come to see Representative Giffords at her meet-and-greet after having been elected to the student council at her elementary school. Her parents, John and Roxana Green, both saw their daughter as a future politician.
"She was a good speaker. I could have easily seen her as a politician," John Green, a supervisor of amateur scouts for the Los Angeles Dodgers, told the Arizona Star-News. Roxanna Green said of her daughter: "She was all about helping people, and being involved. It's so tragic. She went to learn today and then someone with so much hatred in their heart took the lives of innocent people."
Dallas Green, vacationing at his winter home in the Caribbean, was stunned by the news. "It's pretty hard," he told the New York Daily News. "We're all hurting pretty bad. I can't believe this could happen to any nine-year-old child. [It's] the worst thing to ever happen to us."
SHOOTINGS SPARK DEBATE OVER POISONED POLITICS; GIFFORDS WAS ON PALIN'S ELECTORAL 'HIT LIST'
The shootings have sparked a nationwide debate over what observers say is the increasingly poisonous histrionics and superheated rhetoric that has dominated political discourse in recent years, particularly over illegal immigration. Sheriff Dupnik blamed the shootings on what he called "The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country," and that, "unfortunately, Arizona . . . has become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."
Giffords became the target of numerous threats against her last spring after she voted in favor of the health-care reform law. Her offices in Tucson were vandalized. Giffords was one of 20 members of Congress who were placed on a political "hit list" by former Alaska governor and GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin on her Web site, which included a map of the U.S. that featured gun-sight crosshair images placed on the districts of vulnerable Democrats in last November's elections.
In a March appearance on MSNBC following the vandalism at her Tucson office, Giffords lashed out at Palin. "Sarah Palin has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district and when people do that, they’ve gotta realize there are consequences to that action," she said.
In a statement on Facebook, Palin said "my sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."
The controversial target map was subsequently pulled from the Web site of Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC, but numerous screenshots of the map remain online elswhere.
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Copyright 2011, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.