Local Officials Walk Back 'DHS Memo' on American Renaissance

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 11 2011 4:32 PM

Local Officials Walk Back 'DHS Memo' on American Renaissance

Fox News reporter Jennifer Griffin gave the network a memo she'd obtained about the Arizona shooting within 18 hours of the event. Here's how she described it in a message Greta Van Susteren posted at 8:11 a.m., on January 9.

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.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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Fox's chyrons that day referred to a "DHS memo" obtained by the network. The story Griffin published described it somewhat differently :

According to a law enforcement memo based on information provided by DHS and obtained by Fox News, Jared Loughner, the alleged shooter of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, may have been influenced by a pro-white racist organization that publishes an anti-immigration newsletter.

Ken Vogel reports it out and discovers that the DHS didn't have anything to with it.

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."

So what was the DHS reference all about? Griffin doesn't have to reveal her source, and in the frenzy around a tragedy a lot of words are jumbled, but what do we know? We know that the DHS studies all sorts of extremism, even though AmRen didn't appear in the brief "rightwing extremism" report of April 2009 that kicked up all that dust. It's possible that the "two people" who complied the short memo in Arizona stumbled upon the AmRen info that way. But I'm with Greg Sargent -- it's extremely odd that even though the entire memo was put online, and didn't establish a link, so many people ran with it.

I spoke with AmRen's Jared Taylor, who told me he spoke to Commander David Denlinger today.

"He concedes that somebody with that organization wrote this memo," Taylor said. "He won't tell me who, because the person doesn't always work with him."

What this means is the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center sprang into action upon news of the shooting and was coordinating with people who don't normally work with them. In a crisis, these fusion centers absorb other law enforcement officials, who go back to work when the crisis is over.

"Denlinger still contends that somewhere in Jared Lee Loughner's ravings there's something about American Renaissance, but they haven't nailed that down, and he himself hasn't seen it," said Taylor. "Apparently, at some point, he's considering issuing a statement saying that our magazine has nothing to do with this. I'm feeling somewhat relieved, but that doesn't take away all of the hate mail we've gotten. He has no idea why they described us as 'anti-Zog' or 'anti-Semitic.'"

I've reached out to Denlinger, too, and will report what he says.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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