At last, the full story of the DHS memo and Fox’s false report about it

At 3:44 p.m. this afternoon, Politico posted an article, written by Kenneth Vogel, which gets at the truth of the supposed DHS memo which “linked” the mass murderer Jared Lee Loughner with Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance newsletter.

Fact: There was no DHS memo. The information attributed to the purported memo came from an internal e-mail at an organization called the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center.

Fact: The e-mail was not an official document or finding or accusation. It was mere chat or brainstorming among colleagues, though even the word “brainstorming” is too high-toned for the moronic, fact-free content of the e-mail.

Fact: Bret Baier of Fox News reported on the supposed DHS memo on his Sunday morning program, declaring that it held some “pretty significant” clues about the investigation. Baier and his producers did not notice, or did not care, that the information in the purported memo—such as the statement that Rep. Giffords was the highest ranking Jewish female politician in U.S. history (which was, according to the non-existent DHS memo, the supposed reason the “anti-ZOG” American Renaissance wanted her assassinated)—was obviously bogus. Instead, they simply passed on to the public the “information” in the memo as though it were true.

Fact: Baier and his producers did not contact Jared Taylor to get his response to their report, either before they broadcast the outrageously false story or afterwards. It was Politico that telephoned Taylor after the Fox story ran and received from him the information that Loughner had never subscribed to American Renaissance, attended its conferences, or registered as a commenter at its website.

Fact: Notiwthstanding the massive coverage of the non-existent DHS memo, the DHS did not bother directly to inform the public that there was no such memo; instead, an anonymous DHS official told Greg Sargent of the Washington Post on Monday that the information did not come from DHS.

That roughly summarizes the main points in the Politico article. The whole piece, which is reproduced below, is very much worth reading.

Jared Loughner’s supremacists tie debunked
By: Kenneth P. Vogel
January 11, 2011 03:44 PM EST

An Arizona law enforcement agency is backing away from a document it produced in the aftermath of Saturday’s shootings in Tucson—and which was leaked to Fox News—that linked the man accused with carrying out the crimes to a white nationalist publication.

After Fox News began citing the document in its broadcasts, initially describing it as a memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the story was picked up by other media, which suggested that the federal government was looking at the role of the publication, American Renaissance, in motivating the shootings.

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.

Denlinger said the document “was never intended for public dissemination. It was also not a police report or even a record that is in our system. It was simply two people that put a quick summary together for their bosses in terms of here are some of the things that are being looked at right now.”

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance’s founder and editor, denied any connection with Loughner when contacted by Fox News reporter James Rosen on Sunday. Rosen read his denial on the air, including an assertion that the document was “complete nonsense. I have absolutely no idea what DHS is talking about.”

In an interview with POLITICO, Taylor, who is also the head of the New Century Foundation, which publishes American Renaissance, blasted Fox for airing reports based on the document before contacting him, suggesting that either the network “swallowed a hoax” or the document’s author “is a complete bonehead who deserves to be fired.”

A spokeswoman for Fox News did not respond to questions about Fox’s reporting on the document, though Rosen, in a Monday on-air segment, reported that subsequent law enforcement memos didn’t mention American Renaissance.

The magazine and the New Century Foundation advocate a strain of white separatism that holds that many of America’s social ills are due to racial diversity, forced integration and waves of minority immigration. However, Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, told POLITICO the group is not anti-Semitic.

Taylor said Monday that since the reports aired, American Renaissance has been receiving a flurry of nasty and threatening email and phone calls. “We’ve been called anti-Semitic, racist murderers,” he said.

Many other media outlets—including POLITICO, the New York Times and the Associated Press—followed Fox, either citing the network or local authorities as sources, and Denlinger said he planned to call Taylor Tuesday to explain how his group was implicated.

The document—which Denlinger described as an email “one of the detectives in the center authored … to his supervisor … just simply mentioning the brainstorming”—asserted that there is “strong suspicion” of a connection between Loughner and American Renaissance.

“No direct connection—but strong suspicion is being directed at AmRen / American Renaissance,” it read. “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 (sic) is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government.”

In addition to misspelling Giffords’s name, the documents’ contention that she “is the first Jewish female elected to such a high position in the US government” is plainly wrong (long-serving California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein are both Jewish, for example).

Denlinger said “the use of those two words ‘strongly suspected’ is not something I would use in an email. It was simply one in a list of many links of interest just to see if that would help us make any sense of the motive.”

He said he doesn’t remember what made his detectives draw the connection between Loughner and American Renaissance and, he conceded that the document erred in labeling American Renaissance anti-Semitic, which formed the basis for its suggestion that Loughner may have targeted Giffords because of her religion.

The document was first mentioned by anchor Bret Baier in a Sunday morning appearance on Fox News. He called the email a Department of Homeland Security “internal memo” that was “obtained by Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin” and held some “pretty significant” clues about the investigation.

He said the document describes American Renaissance as “largely anti-Semitic, but also anti-government overall and anti-immigration. So, we have to do more research on the group, specifically, but the fact that the feds are linking at least possibly Jared Loughner to this group is pretty significant in this internal memo.”

POLITICO included Taylor’s subsequent denial to Rosen in its own Sunday morning report, which cited Fox News’ report as its source, but also included comments from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Potok dismissing the anti-Semitism charge and describing American Renaissance as “kind of white-collar, white supremacists outlet.”

An online report from Fox’s Griffin used more cautious language than Baier’s in describing the document she had obtained, calling it “a law enforcement memo based on information provided by DHS.” On Sunday afternoon, when FBI Director Robert Mueller was asked about the possible link during a press conference in Tucson, he responded “I have seen some allusion to that in the media, let me just put it that way. Quite clearly, that is something that we would continue to look at and focus on in the course of the investigation.”

On Monday, though, the Department of Homeland Security started to push back on reports, denying it had determined “any such possible link,” and questioning Fox’s characterization of the document, a transcription of which Fox host Greta Van Susteren posted on her blog.

“DHS did not issue a formal memo and has not established any such possible link,” a DHS official told POLITICO, adding “it would not be DHS’ place to reach any such conclusion” because “FBI is the lead in the investigation.”

Reporting the DHS pushback, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent suggested Fox “walked back (its) report a bit.”

Other reports cited local law enforcement as pursuing the American Renaissance angle, including a Sunday Associated Press dispatch asserting “An official familiar with the Arizona shooting investigation says local authorities are looking at a possible connection between” Loughner and American Renaissance as “one of several motives that local authorities are pursuing in the shooting of” Giffords.

But Renee Carlson, a deputy with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, the lead local agency on the case, said POLITICO’s questions about the reported American Renaissance link was the first she’d heard of the group or its purported ties to Loughner.

“It’s not anything that I know of that we’re investigating,” she said Monday.

After Fox’s initial report started to circulate Sunday, Taylor said he got a call from CNN inquiring about his group’s ties to Loughner, prompting the group to scour records of everyone who had ever subscribed to American Renaissance, posted comments on its website or registered to attend its conferences or other events.

“Nobody had ever seen (Loughner’s) name, so—as far as we’re concerned—there’s no evidence that he ever even saw our webpage,” said Taylor, who stressed that his group is scholarly and non-violent, and contended the memo and subsequent reports grossly distorted his group’s philosophical underpinnings.

Taylor told POLITCO “people for years have been calling us racist, but nobody has been calling us anti-government, anti-Semitic or this ZOG business. I mean, anybody who spent three minutes looking at our webpage would know we’re not talking about any of that stuff.”

In an effort to set the record straight on his group and its philosophy—which he calls “race realism” (“It is the view that most people quite naturally and normally prefer the company of people of the same race”)—he said he had reached out to Fox News asking for the source of the memo and also had talked with representative from DHS and the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, imploring them to put out a statement absolving his group from involvement with Loughner—so far, to no avail.

“We’re the victim,” he said. “Fox told me they have to protect their sources. And here you’ve got some government agency allegedly saying we’re a bunch of anti-government anti-Semites who pall around with deranged killers,” he said. “Do you like that on your official biography?”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 11, 2011 10:43 PM | Send

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