Hate played a role
A U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo reportedly notes that Gabriel Giffords is Jewish in describing the motives of the Arizona congresswoman’s alleged assailant.
The memo, obtained by Fox News Channel, says that Jared Lee Loughner mentioned American Renaissance, an extremist anti-immigrant group, in some of his own postings.
“The group’s ideology is anti-government, anti-immigration, anti-ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic,” says the memo sent to law enforcement, which also notes that Giffords, a Democrat, was the first Jewish congresswoman from Arizona.
Loughner was arrested after Giffords and at least 16 others were shot Saturday at a meet-your-lawmaker event at a Tucson shopping mall. Six people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl and a federal judge, John Roll. Loughner was tackled and arrested. Giffords, a Democrat in her third term, remains in critical condition after being shot in the head.
Loughner, who is being held by the FBI and has been described by authorities as “unstable,” reportedly listed “Mein Kampf” and the “Communist Manifesto” as two of his favorite books on his MySpace page. Several hours before the shooting he reportedly left a “Goodbye friends” message, which also said “Please don’t be mad at me.”
Giffords was outside one of her signature “Congress at your corner” events outside a Safeway in Tucson, part of her congressional district, when the gunman approached and shot her. A Giffords staff member, Gabe Zimmerman, 30, the organizer of the event, was among the six casualties.
A suspected accomplice whose image was captured on a surveillance video camera outside the shopping center also is being sought, according to reports.
Dr. Michael Lemole a surgeon at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz. said Sunday morning at a news conference that Giffords was responding to doctors’ commands. During a two-hour surgery on Saturday, doctors removed bone fragments from her brain in order to help reduce swelling. The bullet went through the left side of her head, he said.
Giffords was elected to Congress in the Democratic sweep in 2006. She made her Jewish identity part of her campaign.
“If you want something done, your best bet is to ask a Jewish woman to do it,” Giffords, a former state senator, said at the time. “Jewish women — by our tradition and by the way we were raised — have an ability to cut through all the reasons why something should, shouldn’t or can’t be done, and pull people together to be successful.”
Giffords, 40, was raised “mixed” by a Christian Scientist mother and Jewish father, but said she decided she was Jewish only following a visit to Israel in 2001. She attended services at a local Reform synagogue.
In a recent photo, she posed with the new U.S. House of Representatives speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), at her swearing-in with her hand on the Five Books of Moses.
Giffords fought a hard re-election battle last year against the national anti-incumbent, anti-Democratic mood. She tacked to the right of her party on immigration, saying border security was of primary consideration.
The election was called in her favor weeks after the vote.
Giffords’ office had been vandalized in March after she voted for health care reform. Friends said she had received threats for her positions on health care and for opposing her state’s new law allowing police to arrest undocumented immigrants during routine stops.
The National Jewish Democratic Council suggested that the heated rhetoric of the last year contributed to the climate that led to the attack.
“One suspect, now in custody, may be directly responsible for this crime,” the group said in a statement. “But it is fair to say — in today’s political climate, and given today’s political rhetoric — that many have contributed to the building levels of vitriol in our political discourse that have surely contributed to the atmosphere in which this event transpired.”