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DHS uses Giffords shooting to push loose borders political agenda (Jared Lee Loughner, American Renaissance)

[IMPORTANT UPDATE: AmRen has been cleared, and Fox's memo wasn't even from the DHS. See the updates below.]

The Department of Homeland Security and various media sources are using the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Lee Loughner as an opportunity to try to smear opponents of illegal immigration, focusing on the higher-level white racial separatist group American Renaissance (DHS memo at [1], report at [2]). Not only do they get that group's ideas wrong, but they mislead about what was in Loughner's videos and what appears to have been on his MySpace page.

From the memo at [1]:

no direct connection - but strong suspicion is being directed at AmRen / American Renaissance. Suspect is possibly linked to this group. (through videos posted on his myspace and YouTube account.). The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti Semitic.

I didn't see Loughner's MySpace page, which has since been taken down. There's a supposed picture of it here, with nothing I can see about AmRen. I watched (and saved) his Youtube videos and there was nothing in there about AmRen. Further, AmRen responds here:

American Renaissance condemns violence in the strongest possible terms, and nothing that has ever appeared in it pages could be interpreted as countenancing it.

AR is not anti-government, anti-Semitic, or anti-ZOG, as is clear from the 20 years of back issues that are posted on our website. The expression “ZOG” has never appeared in the pages of AR, and we have has always welcomed Jewish participation in our work. Many of the speakers at American Renaissance conferences have been Jewish.

Not only did the memo get their ideas wrong, but Google shows just eight other pages mentioning Giffords at their site; none of those focus on her or contain any questionable mentions of her.

This latest smear is of a piece with the DHS' rightwing extremists report, something that they were even criticized for by Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson. In this case, you don't have to be an AmRen supporter to oppose smears of them, especially when done to push a loose borders agenda.

The DHS has always been a highly political agency, whether under George W Bush or under Barack Obama, and the goal of their leadership is the same under both: look like they're doing their job while - at least when it comes to immigration - trying not to do the job they should be doing.

The entry point of the smear was a blog posting by Greta van Susteren of Fox News [1]. A later Fox News report [3] subtly changes the provenance of the memo, and an Associated Press report by Eileen Sullivan refers not to the memo but an anonymous source [4].

1/10/11 UPDATE: From Greg Sargent of the Washington Post (link):

a DHS official tells me that the department has not established any such possibility [as outlined in the memo], undercutting what appears to be the primary basis for this claim...

But DHS has not officially provided any such information to any law enforcement officials, the DHS official says.

"We have not established any such possible link," the official says...

The official cautions it's conceivable that a law enforcement official got unofficial info from a DHS official somewhere along the lines of what Fox reported. But he emphasizes that DHS has not even concluded in any official way that even the possibility of such ties exists. The official adds that it wouldn't be DHS's place to reach any such conclusion in the first place, since the FBI is leading the investigation.

1/11/11 UPDATE 1: On the ninth (before Sargent's post above), Patrik Jonsson of the Christian Science Monitor offered "American Renaissance: Was Jared Lee Loughner tied to anti-immigrant group?" (link). While it includes AmRen's denial and a "hate" monitor questioning whether there could be a link, the article also smears by asking the titular question and not, for instance, by questioning the DHS over what they were thinking.

David Greenberg of The New Republic links (link) to the article with the following, reaching a conclusion that even Jonsson was unwilling to make:

Jared Lee Loughner, is reported to have admired Mein Kampf and claimed ties to the anti-Semitic hate group called American Renaissance.

If he had claimed such ties, we certainly would have heard about it; Greenberg apparently can't read.

1/11/11 UPDATE 2: AmRen has been cleared and Fox's memo wasn't even from the DHS. From this:

David Denlinger, commander of the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center acknowledged that the document came from his agency, but contained errors and overstated the link between Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old charged with shooting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others outside a Tucson supermarket, and American Renaissance.

“I do have no reason to believe in anything that we did that (Loughner) had any direct connection or was being directed by American Renaissance,” Denlinger, an Arizona state police major, told POLITICO Tuesday.

The ACTIC - also known as the "Arizona Fusion Center" is per azactic.gov "a joint effort between the Department of Public Safety, Arizona Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other participating agencies".

There's much more about this at the link above; while past reports from Kenneth Vogel of The Politico have shown bias, he seems to have done a good job with this report.

ADDED: See also
* FAQ: Is Jared Lee Loughner linked to Tea Party, conservatives, or libertarians? (Gabrielle Giffords shooting)
* Jared Loughner: anti-Bush, pro-small government? Intellectually dishonest Tea Party defenders
* Claims by Tea Party enablers that Pima Sheriff Dupnik could have stopped Loughner are false
* Loughner's "Genocide school" video
* Friend's claim that Loughner wasn't political is two years out of date
* Jared Loughner's AboveTopSecret postings show no clear political slant
* Glenn Reynolds denies Tea Party's history of intimidation
* first post on Gabrielle Giffords shooting

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[1] From this:

Below is a note from my FNC colleague Jennifer Griffin: (by the way, the fact that my blogs focus on Congresswoman Giffords in no way is meant to take away from the other victims and their families. The tragedy is immeasurable and words inadequate.)
----

Per Griffin

This is an internal memo obtained by Fox News put out by DHS compiling facts known so far about the case - new - shooter's mother worked for Pima board of supervisers and the suspected anti-Semitic motivation of the shooter.

MEMO:
"The investigation has been taken over by the FBI, and is being run through the Tucson Command Post. Here's what can be confirmed at this time (1800 hrs)... * Gabrielle Giffords Is in ICU.* Federal judge John Roll is deceased. He did rule on a 32 million dollar civil rights lawsuit in February, 2010. That ruling brought death threats to Roll and his family, and for a time he was given a protection detail.* 6 deaths attributed to the shooting. 19 total people hit by gunfire.* suspect’s mother works for the Pima County Board of Supervisors* the suspect has multiple arrests ... But no criminal record? Intervention by someone?* no direct connection - but strong suspicion is being directed at AmRen / American Renaissance. Suspect is possibly linked to this group. (through videos posted on his myspace and YouTube account.). The group’s ideology is anti government, anti immigration, anti ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti Semitic. Gabrielle Gifford is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government. She was also opposite this group’s ideology when it came to immigration debate.* DHS have a list of names and dates of birth of all victims.* the ACTIC is still playing a major role in the investigation... Computer forensics is cleaning up the surveillance videos, and images from around the scene, and involved in the investigation - working together, was MCSO, DPS, Phoenix PD, ICE, and of course the FBI. It did just come in from the command post, that the federal judge was Not originally scheduled to attend the meeting, according to wife. She stated that he received a phone call about an hour before and was invited to attend. Wrong place - wrong time. For the planning side, there are impromptu memorials popping up all over the state, but the largest one is downtown phoenix, at the capital."

[2] politico.com/news/stories/0111/47308.html by Maggie Haberman of the Politico.

A Department of Homeland Security memo quoted by Fox News says the agency is looking into whether Loughner is “possibly linked” to the fanatical group American Renaissance... The group promotes views that are “anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government), anti-Semitic,” the memo says... Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the target of Loughner’s firing frenzy, is “the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the U.S. government. She was also opposite the group’s ideology when it came to immigration debate,” according the memo.

Haberman even works in a quote from Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center who, to his slight credit, admits that Taylor isn't anti-Semitic.

[3] A newer report by Fox (link) only refers to the memo as a "law enforcement memo based on information provided by the Department of Homeland Security".

[4] From this:

An official familiar with the Arizona shooting investigation said Sunday that local authorities are looking at a possible connection between accused gunman Jared Loughner and an online group known for white supremacist, anti-immigrant rhetoric.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation, said local authorities were examining the American Renaissance website for possible motives for Saturday's shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

Sun, 01/09/2011 - 22:06 · Importance: 5