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AZ Sheriff Issues Gag Order for Giffords Shooting Investigators

The Pima County Sheriff's department has "suddenly turned off the flow of information" surrounding the January 8 Tucson shooting incident, KGUN reports.

On Wednesday, a department spokesman issued this bizarrely brief statement:

Until further notice, due to a controversy between the Sheriff's Department and the County Attorney's office, no further information reference the January 8, 2011 shooting will be released.

The spokesman offered no further information about the "controversy," and the statement abruptly canceled a number of previously scheduled interviews, including a live on-air interview with the Sheriff's Bureau Chief Richard Kastigar and CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

KGUN notes how the seemingly sudden decision to end public comments from the department contrasts with Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's past availability to respond to media inquiries following the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:

The statement cuts off what had been a generous and open flow of information from the Sheriff's Department -- information that had at times captivated the entire nation. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has been making the local and national media rounds himself for days, appearing on CNN as recently as Tuesday. On Saturday Kastigar appeared in an ABC News town hall meeting on the shooting aftermath, hosted by network anchor Christiane Amanpour, which was broadcast to the nation on Sunday.

Kastigar has been quoted recently as saying that the security tapes from the morning of the shooting were crystal clear and showed exactly what happened when a lone gunman opened fire.

The sheriff's department had been so diligent about sharing information with the public that it established a web page just for information about the shooting. That web page is still available -- with the most recent posting advising of the information shut-off.

In addition, Dupnik has made frequent appearances on national airwaves to air his own political opinions.  On Tuesday, Dupnik told the Washington Post that he has received support -- most notably from Ethel Kennedy, the widow of the late Robert F. Kennedy -- and negative backlash, including emails from Rush Limbaugh's radio audience in response to his candid comments:

One last thing…
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