By Jacques Billeaud and Julie Watson, Associated Press
PHOENIX (AP) - The nation got its first look on Monday at the 22-year-old man accused of trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Jared Loughner, head shaved, a cut above the right temple and his hands cuffed, scanned a packed courtroom and sat down.
His attorney, who defended Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski, whispered to him.
The judge asked Loughner if he understood that he could get life in prison - or the death penalty - for killing federal Judge John Roll, one of the six who died in the shooting rampage at Giffords' meeting with constituents on Saturday in Tucson.
"Yes," he said, standing at a lecturn in his beige prison jumpsuit. A U.S. marshal stood guard nearby.
The judge ordered Loughner held without bail.
Throngs of reporters and television news crews lined up outside the federal courthouse, where the hearing was moved from Tucson because Roll was a longtime judge at the federal courthouse there. The entire federal bench there recused itself because Roll was the chief judge.
Loughner is charged with one count of attempted assassination of a member of Congress, two counts of killing an employee of the federal government and two counts of attempting to kill a federal employee. More charges are expected. Police say he has not been cooperating with investigators.
A military official in Washington said the Army rejected Loughner in 2008 because he failed a drug test. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because privacy laws prevent the military from disclosing such information about an individual's application.
The official did not know what type of drug was detected.
The court hearing came a few hours after the nation observed a moment of silence for the victims of the rampage, from the South Lawn of the White House and the steps of the U.S. Capitol to legislatures beyond Arizona, and the International Space Station.
There, Giffords' brother-in-law, Scott, the commanding officer, spoke over the radio. Flight controllers in Houston fell silent.
"As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful," he said. "Unfortunately, it is not."
"These days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words," he said.
"We're better than this," he said. "We must do better."
The president called for the country to come together in prayer or reflection for those killed and those fighting to recover.
At the Supreme Court, the justices paused for a moment of silence between the two cases they were hearing Monday morning. Arizona's chief federal judge, John Roll, was killed in the attack.
Giffords, a conservative Democrat re-elected in November, faced threats and heckling over her support for immigration reform and her office was vandalized the day the House, including Giffords, approved the landmark health care measure.
It was not clear whether those issues motivated the shooter.
The day before Giffords was shot, the congresswoman sent an e-mail to a friend in Kentucky discussing how to "tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."
In the message, obtained by The Associated Press, the Democratic congresswoman on Friday congratulated Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson on his new position at Harvard University.
She wrote: "After you get settled, I would love to talk about what we can do to promote centrism and moderation. I am one of only 12 Dems left in a GOP district (the only woman) and think that we need to figure out how to tone our rhetoric and partisanship down."
In Tucson, about a half dozen people gathered outside Giffords' hospital during the moment of silence. Giffords, 40, remained in intensive care.
On Sunday and Monday, Giffords was able to respond to a verbal command by raising two fingers with her left hand.
"When she did that, we were having a party in there," Dr. Peter Rhee said. And even while sedated, she has reached for her breathing tube. That's a purposeful movement. That's a great thing."
Giffords met Loughner at least, at an event three years ago when he asked a question.
Prosecutors allege Loughner scrawled on an envelope the words "my assassination" and "Giffords" sometime before he took a cab to a shopping center where the congresswoman was meeting with constituents Saturday morning. Police said he purchased the Glock pistol used in the attack at Sportsman's Warehouse in Tucson in November.
Comments from friends and former classmates bolstered by Loughner's own Internet postings have painted a picture of a social outcast with almost indecipherable beliefs steeped in mistrust and paranoia.
"If you call me a terrorist then the argument to call me a terrorist is Ad hominem," he wrote Dec. 15 in a wide-ranging posting.
The six killed included U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; the third grader, Christina Taylor Green, 9; Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, 30; Dorothy Morris, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; and Phyllis Schneck, 79. Of those injured, eight are still hospitalized. One is in critical condition, five are in serious condition, and two are in good condition.
The girl killed was featured in a book called "Faces of Hope" that chronicled one baby from each state born on Sept. 11, 2001. Recently elected to student council, she went to the event because of her interest in government.
Amanda Stinnett, a parent who got teary upon seeing a memorial outside the girl's Tucson school, said her two kids sometimes played together.
"My youngest said, 'She was so nice Mommy. She always let me play with her,'" Stinnett said.
At the same time, she said Christina seemed mature for her age and with a sharp vocabulary.
"It seemed like she was a grown adult."
Associated Press writers Pauline Arrillaga, Justin Pritchard, Terry Tang in Tucson, and Marco Sibaja in Brasilia, Brazil, Anne Flaherty in Washington contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)