Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dubya Dupnik- Keystone cop or intentional smokescreen to defer attention from own malfeasance and/or incompetence?

In the aftermath of the tragic shooting rampage last Saturday in Tucson, Az. by disturbed gunman Jared Lee Loughner and the subsequent and public "impromptu" comments of the Tucson (Pima County) Sheriff Clarence Dupnik blaming conservative media and a "poisonous" political environment allegedly spurred on by the "divisive rhetoric" of the Tea Party movement and conservative figures like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, see here, questions are now coming to light about what the Tucson Sheriff knew about the shooter prior to this tragedy and whether it could have been prevented.  In particular, many are now asking of Sheriff Dupnik what he knew and when he knew it and questioning his possible motives for his startlingly public and partisan statements following the shootings.   But first, a little context.

Democrat Sheriff Dupnik has been in office for more three decades, his influence waning in local politics due to an increasingly conservative electorate wearying of picking up the tab for the continual and negative repercussions to Pima County's educational, health and public safety systems that rampant illegal immigration has imposed on the taxpayers of this overwhelmingly Republican state.  (Indeed, as shooting victim Congresswoman Giffords had recently bemoaned, she was the lone remaining Democrat in the state's Congressional delegation). Indeed, Sheriff Dupnik has increasingly fought not to be overshadowed by his more media saavy counterpart to the North, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Airipo, and faced a Republican challenger in the 2008 elections.

At the "Congress on the Corner" event at which Congresswoman Giffords was to speak to constituents, (which, btw, had been widely advertised far in advance), there were no sheriff's deputies or personnel whatsoever, in spite of the Safeway grocery complex where the event took place being in the Sheriff's jurisdiction.

However, almost immediately after the shooting, when it was clear Sheriff Dupnik's conduct and that of his office would come under scrutiny, (and before there could hardly have been a thorough investigation to determine the facts), Sheriff Dupnik announced there was a potential "second suspect" --for which more information would be forthcoming and of whom it was implied may have assisted Mr. Loughner in carrying out this heinous crime-- based on, well what exactly?  One alleged and random picture from a grocery store camera.  (This mind you when they already had the undisputed shooter Mr. Loughner in custody).  Of course, subsequently we heard nothing more about said "second suspect." 

Instead, when it became clear that Mr. Loughner was a mentally disturbed individual who had acted alone, Sheriff Dupnik curiously and suddenly shifted his focus and decided to go public with his "earnest concerns" about the "dangerous" political speech supposedly emmanating from the center-right, see here.

One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to tell, even from this limited narrative, that Sheriff Dupnik clearly had reason to deflect attention from his department's failing to provide adequate security for this political event in the first place and was plausibly trying to distract attention from his own failings by mentioning the "second suspect" theory and, when that didn't work, following it up with sensational claims about the "vitriolic" rhetoric of the political right that would instantly shore up his support among Democrats, (if not succeed in deflecting criticism of him and his department among the electorate generally).

In light of the revelation that Sheriff's deputies were well aware of the bizarre and threatening behavior of Mr. Loughner in the days and months prior to his shooting spree last Saturday that took the lives of six and injured 13 others, (as they had been called re: his conduct multiple times and Loughner had been in various scrapes with the law), Sheriff Dupnik clearly had reason to be concerned. 

Indeed, many are now questioning (and rightly so) whether, rather than being motivated by any public interest to change the "political climate"-- and certainly not to help "solve" the crime as such statements were superfluous in light of already having Mr. Loughner in custody-- Sheriff Dubnik's public comments were instead offered with this specific purpose of attempting to distract from the increasing realization that the Pima county Sheriff's Department may have negligently dropped the ball in failing to institute legal proceedings that could have forced Mr. Loughner to get badly needed mental health treatment (as is done all the time under established Arizona law). 

In any case, Sheriff Dupnik's sharing his "political opinions" was extremely unprofessional and had nothing to do with the criminal investigation nor his official duties, click here (Indeed, by providing legal cover to potential claims of public "bias" by Mr. Loughner's legal defense team, Sheriff Dupnik may in fact have prejudiced the legal case against Mr. Loughner.) 

As it can not reasonably be said that with over 50 years of experience in law enforcement Sheriff Dupnik took these actions "accidentally" without knowledge of the consequences, we are accordingly forced to address the elephant in the room alluded to above, namely:

Could the reason for the unfounded and impromptu attacks of Sheriff Dupnik on conservatives for this unspeakable act of violence really be just a smokescreen to distract from his and his department's own failings and culpability in this tragedy? 

We find this explanation compelling in light of the following facts:

1.  There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Loughner was, in fact, motivated by conservative/ "right wing" political ideas or even listened to so called "conservative media" (e.g., Fox News, talk radio, etc), or, for that matter, was even a close follower of politics at all. 

    To the contrary, friends of Mr. Loughner's expressly stated in public interviews that he didn't watch cable t.v. or even listen to talk radio, (the alleged chief purveyer of the afore-mentioned "vitriolic and dangerous" political rhetoric of which Sheriff Dupnik spoke and which would become a repeated mantra of the blamestream media in the ensuing days).  To the contrary, Mr. Loughner, judging from his published you tube profile, see screen shot here, turned out to be a fan of the Communist Manifesto and "Mein Kampf," (hardly reading staples of the political right in this country except perhaps among truly extremist groups which have no connection to figures such as Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin, the constant scapegoats of the left).

   Mr. Loughner was also a registered Independent who didn't even vote in the last elections.  How it possibly makes sense under this set of facts to label him as influenced by allegedly "vitriolic" conservative political rhetoric instead of suffering from mere insanity defies rational explanation.  (Indeed, in light of his known political affiliation, doing so makes no more sense than blaming Mr. Loughner's deadly outburst of public violence on Independents, an equally preposterous position).  

    Such reasoning to us seems akin to saying, (hypothetically of course), that because families on food stamps tend to have heads of home with less stable employment histories than comparable families not on foodstamps, public assistance causes laziness or a poor work ethic, (a conclusion we are sure those on the left would vociferously disagree with!), or that because most murderers have smoked marijuana, pot creates killers, or that Loughner's penchant for heavy metal music and skull worship made him murderous, (hmmm, now there's a thought!)   Nuff said.

2.  The Sheriff was extremely familiar with the accused and his family as evidenced by his pointing out in his impromptu "press conference" shortly after the shootings such things as his knowledge of the "proper" pronounciation of the accused's last name, see here, as well as the gunman's propensity to violence and mental illness, see here.

    Moreover, Sheriff Dupnik explicitly admitted he was familiar with both Loughner and the potential danger the gunman posed, professing in public statements mere hours after the shootings that "there have been law enforcement contacts with the individual where he made threats to kill," and that the shooter had “a mental issue."

   Notwithstanding it would have been extremely difficult to claim the contrary, (as Sheriff's deputies had visited and/or been called out to the Loughner residence, where the gunman lived with his family, on numerous occasions), and in themselves without a fuller understanding of their context such calls prove nothing, in light of the open admissions of the Sheriff's familiarity with Mr. Loughner it his clear that he and his department were undoubtedly aware of Loughner's mental state and risk to the public, especially in light of the gunman's documented propensity for violent threats, see 
here , here, and here).

      As such, and in light of his duty to protect members of the public and the comparatively lax threshold required to force people to receive needed mental health treatment in Arizona, the failure of the Sheriff to ever refer Mr. Loughner for such proceedings, (for which no crime is required to have been committed), seems exceptionally negligent and a dereliction of duty.

3.  The accused was not a member or affiliated with any Tea Party group or conservative organizationIn fact, as best we know, he has never been a member of any conservative or even "controversial" party, group or organization, (but was rather an Independent, as shown above).
Such inferences, which were disgustingly exploited and popularized by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and the political left for partisan political purposes literally within hours of the shootings in order to promote their oft-repeated and pre-ordained agenda of discrediting the Tea Party and center-right political figures like former Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin and Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, (D-MN), are flatly untrue and lack substantiation with any facts whatsoever. A Report by Fox News referring to an allegedly "secret" memo from Homeland Security that Mr. Loughner was a member of the oft-mentioned and allegedly extremist group 'American Renaissance' was vociferously disputed, see here, and subsequently retracted by Fox, see here.

4.  Mr. Loughner, in the days leading up to the shootings, is reported to have been making death threats against various local news bloggers and students and professors of Pima Community College, see here (which had been so concerned with Mr. Loughner's behavior previously that it had kicked him out and sent a letter to his parents expressing their concerns and informing them he could not return unless he received psychiatric help).  Additionally, so concerned were some of those threatened that they reported Mr. Loughner to the Sheriff's department only to receive assurances from deputies that he was being well "managed" by the mental health system.  (Obviously, we now know this wasn't true).  

5.  It is now known that Amy Loughner, (shooter Jared Loughner's mother), works in local government as a county manager for Tucson's Parks Department.  Which leads us to wonder out loud, is it possible this is the reason why her son, in spite of his many scrapes with the law and three arrests, has never had any convictions or mental health "civil committment" proceedings instituted? Not that we don't think it's any less tragic, or even pleasant to have to ask-- and certainly no one wishes to unnecessarily impose upon the family directly involved in this tragedy, Lord knows they have a lot on their plate as it is-- but it does raise an important question vis a vis a possible "cover up" by authorities for "political" reasons and is imperative to be fully vetted in order to aid in preventing future tragedies like this from ever recurring again, (and, as the Truth and Justice commission in S. Africa was fond of pointing out, there can be no justice, no reconciliation in the community, until all the truth is told).

 In that light then, the very pertinent question here is, "Was any special treatment given to Mr. Loughner and/or was he ever not fully prosecuted because of his mother's position working in local government?"

 Indeed, the answer to such questions are critical as they go to the very heart of citizens' ability to have faith in the fair and non-corrupt functioning of their government without cronyism or partiality of any kind, and we hope become, in addition to the Sheriff, subjects that are included in a probe by the Arizona Bureau of Investigation to insure we get to the bottom of this terrible tragedy and understand all the reasons for its occurring so we can more effectively prevent such things from happening again.

 It also tangentially raises other questions, namely:  Is there is any kind of political or financial connection between the Loughner family and Sheriff Dupnik that could explain the inaction of the Sheriff's department in the face of such obvious disfunction and/or illness in the Loughner home and/or Sheriff Dupnik's strange post-rampage comments seeking a scapegoat in the right?  The questions abound. 

6.  Finally, in what is perhaps most compelling, is simply the above-illustrated strange behavior of Sheriff Dupnik.  Again, why a Sheriff with over 40 years of law enforcement experience and a lone suspect in custody for the crime-- who certainly knows enough not to risk prosecution of a criminal case by revealing information publicly that could be alleged to "taint" the jury to try Mr. Loughner-- would ever go on the record with such legally pointless but politically incendiary claims as Sheriff Dupnik made in his "press" conferences utterly defies rational explanation.  Unless, that is, he did so to distract from his own moral (and perhaps legal) culpability for his dismal failure to faithfully execute his job and take action in forwarding Mr. Loughner's case through the appropriate channels in order to force him to receive some (obviously) badly needed mental health treatment prior to this tragedy occurring.

Hopefully such questions will be answered in due course; the victims of this tragedy, indeed, the entire nation, deserves no less. jp

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