Right-Wing Conspiracy Theorist’s Death Generates Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories

Anti-Islam activist and right-wing conspiracy theorist Philip Haney was found dead Friday of what the Amador County California Sheriff’s Office said was a “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” but right-wing activists predictably rushed to insist that Haney was actually murdered.

Shortly after the news broke, Rep. Steve King sent out a tweet claiming that Haney had “insured his life by archiving data that incriminated the highest levels of the Obama administration,” insisting that “Haney didn’t kill himself.”

Haney, a former Department of Homeland Security official who launched a second career as a right-wing anti-Islam activist after leaving DHS in 2015, claimed in 2018 that he had been on a “special assignment” in Minnesota to stop Rep. Keith Ellison from being elected Minnesota’s Attorney General.

Haney was also likely a source behind Glenn Beck’s infamous claim that one of the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing was actually involved in planning and carrying out the attack.

Following the bombing, Beck went on a crusade to prove that the Obama administration was engaged in what he said was a massive cover-up of the attack and launched a full-scale campaign to prove that Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, who was injured in the bombing, was actually an al Qaeda “control agent” and the “money man” who financed the operation and recruited the Tsarnaev brothers to carry it out.

Beck’s theory rested on the fact that Alharbi had once been considered a “person of interest” during the initial investigation, even though he was quickly cleared. Beck’s network claimed to have received information during the investigation that Alharbi “was set to be deported under section 212 3B” for “terrorist activities,” and it was upon that piece of information that Beck built his entire campaign, even though one of Beck’s own experts told him at the time that his theory “doesn’t make sense.”

In 2014, Alharbi sued Beck for defamation and slander, and as part of the suit, Beck was ordered to identify the confidential sources upon whom he relied when making his claims about Alharbi, so Alharbi’s lawyers could depose them. Beck repeatedly refused to do so and eventually settled the case instead.

In the 2016 court ruling ordering Beck to reveal the identities of his sources, the description of the career of “Source 1” closely aligned with that of Haney. In addition, the court recounted how key documents upon which Beck relied in making his allegations were obtained:

According to [Joe] Weasel [head of Beck’s TheBlaze’s investigatory documentary unit], on or around April 18, a member of Congress asked Source 2 to obtain these two documents. Source 1 sent the documents to Source 2 via fax at Source 2’s request. Source 2 received the documents in a congressional member’s office. After Secretary Napolitano testified, Sources 1 and 2 called Weasel to report that they believed her testimony was false. Also, on April 23, Weasel traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with Source 2. Source 2 showed him a copy of the documents that day, and provided Weasel a copy in an envelope the following day. Weasel returned to New York, where he opened and reviewed the documents with [Joel] Cheatwood [TheBlaze’s President and Chief Content Officer].

In his book, “See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad,” Haney recounts the same incident, seemingly revealing himself to have been the “Source 1” who faxed the documents in question:

Shortly after the court ruling, Haney denounced the lawsuit against Beck as “an intrusion of Sharia law” and revealingly complained that “the judge just ruled on the 10th of August that he has to disclose his confidential sources. Well, who might that be?”

Unsurprisingly, Beck blasted out an all caps tweet yesterday about Haney’s death declaring that “THERE IS NO WAY HE KILLED HIMSELF.”

UPDATE (2/24): Despite an initial statement reporting that Haney “appeared to have suffered a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the Amador County Sheriff’s Office has released a new statement declaring that no cause of death has yet been determined and that an investigation is ongoing:

Unfortunately, there was misinformation immediately being put out that we have determined Mr. Haney’s death to be a suicide. That is not the case. We are currently in the beginning phase of our investigation and any final determination as to the cause and manner of Mr. Haney’s death would be extremely premature and inappropriate. No determination will be made until all evidence is examined and analyzed.