TUCSON, Arizona, January 8, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, a fiscally conservative Democrat with a strong pro-abortion record, has been critically injured in a shooting that took the lives of at least six individuals during a political appearance in Tuscon Saturday morning. While the National Organization for Women (NOW), one of the country’s leading pro-abortion groups, and other liberal commentators quickly blamed the conservative tea party movement, evidence available on the Internet is initially painting a portrait of the alleged gunman as an enigmatic, anti-religion figure described as decidedly “left-wing” and a “quite liberal” drug abuser.
An additional twelve individuals were critically injured in the attack that took place at 10 am MST, at the start of a scheduled “Congress on Your Corner” event featuring Giffords at a local Safeway grocery store. Among the dead are Justice John Roll, Arizona’s chief federal trial judge, and an unidentified 9-year-old girl.
Giffords was reportedly shot once through the head at point-blank range and was airlifted to the University Medical Center (UMC) in Tucson for emergency surgery. In a press conference hours later, UMC surgeon Dr. Peter Rhee said that congresswoman was in critical condition but responding to commands, and the surgeon was “very optimistic” about her recovery.
Giffords, a three-term congresswoman with a 100% pro-choice NARAL record, barely defeated her tea party-backed opponent and Marine veteran Jesse Kelly in November. However, she sides with conservative voices on some issues: Giffords is a proponent of tougher immigration control and, as an opponent of out-of-control government spending, joined a Republican-led reading of the Constitution on the House floor two days ago.
Justice John Roll faced a slew of death threats in 2009 after ruling that a civil rights case brought against an Arizona rancher by illegal immigrants could move forward.
The alleged gunman, identified as 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, was tackled by others present at the scene as he attempted to flee, and is now in custody. Officials say he claims to have acted alone.
President Obama, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, and several other Republican and Democrat figures including tea party favorite Sarah Palin offered prayers for Giffords, her family, and other victims and their loved ones within hours of the shooting. “An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve,” said House Majority Leader John Boehner.
Despite a dearth of information on the gunman’s motives, fingers were quickly pointed at Giffords’ tea party opposition as news of the bloodbath sent a shockwave through Twitter and other Internet media outlets.
The New York Post reported that, when asked whether Giffords had any enemies, the congresswoman’s weeping father Spencer Giffords responded, “Yeah, the whole tea party.” He added that politicians “always get” threatened and that there was little information.
Several Internet commentators blamed militia-style rhetoric of the movement’s favorites such as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Top liberal voices such as the Daily Kos immediately laid the shooting at the feet of the broad grassroots movement that erupted primarily in reaction to tax-and-spend policies in the Bush and Obama administrations. “Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin,” tweeted Daily Kos founder Mark Moulistas after the event.
The president of the top pro-abortion lobby group National Organization for Women went so far as to openly blame “extreme right-wing opponents” hours after the shooting, chastising Republican leaders and calling for a Justice Department investigation “to the fullest extent of federal anti-terrorist legislation” to determine whether the shooting was “part of a conspiracy.”
“Conservatives cannot have it both ways, screaming sexist, racist and homophobic slurs at legislators as they vote for health care reform, putting legislators on a violence-inciting ‘Targets’ list, and then simply saying how sorry they are when someone explodes into murder,” declared NOW president Terry O’Neill in a statement emailed to supporters.
Meanwhile, the blogosphere quickly dug up Internet footprints that appear to belong to the gunman, who is believed to be a military veteran, and paint a still-blurry picture of an unstable left-wing activist and drug abuser.
On a Youtube channel created by one “Jared Lee Loughner” from Tucson appear several video manifestos that reference the Constitution and suggest mistrust of government and currency. In one, titled “My Final Thoughts” and posted last month, Loughner poses several bizarre syllogisms and states among them, “I didn’t write a belief on my army application, and the recruiter wrote on the application: none. ... No! I won’t pay debt with a currency that’s not backed by gold and silver! No! I won’t trust in God!”
A second video discusses religion as a product of “mind control” and another, not created by the user but listed as a “favorite,” shows a flag being burned to the lyrics, “let the bodies hit the floor.” Among favorite books listed on the Youtube account are an anti-communist work by atheist philosopher Ayn Rand, The Communist Manifesto, and Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.
Local news service KTLA.com reported that a friend of Loughner’s tweeted that the alleged gunman “was a pot head and into rock, like Hendrix, The Doors, Anti-Flag,” and whom she knew in 2007 to be “left wing, quite liberal and oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.”
“He had a lot of friends until he got alcohol poisoning in 2006 and dropped out of school. Mainly a loner, very philosophical,” wrote the friend. KTLA also reported that Loughner was charged with drug possession in 2007.
A Washington Post article noted that Trent Humphries, an organizer for the Tucson Tea Party, said that among the group’s 4,000-person contact list none by the name of Jared Loughner were found. Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, lambasted the knee-jerk media reaction blaming the conservative movement.
“If we ever needed an official political obituary to political civility in this country, we’ve seen it,” said Phillips. “The facts weren’t even out there, Rep. Giffords had been carted away in a stretcher, we didn’t even know her condition, but the war had already started. The folks on the hard left were already out there blaming the tea party.”