Monday :: May 19, 2003

Homeland Security’s Texas Escapade Causing Problems and Embarrassment


by Steve

The revelation that the Texas Republican Party was able to convince Tom Ridge that it was critical for the Department of Homeland Security to use its terrorism-fighting resources for purely domestic partisan purposes last week is generating more problems for Ridge and Bush than they thought possible.

First, Joe Lieberman, who wrote the law creating the department in the first place after assurances that it would not be used for exactly these types of political purposes, demanded an explanation from Ridge as to how the DHS allowed itself to be inserted into a partisan mockery such as this.

Then, Ridge thinks he is doing the right thing in conducting an internal investigation into the matter, to head off a congressional inquiry, only to find that the man selected to look into the matter was a failed GOP congressional candidate who wouldn’t of course be expected to be impartial in the matter.

The chief internal investigator at the Department of Homeland Security has decided that his ties to the Republican Party in Texas prevent him from conducting an inquiry into how the department became entangled in a bitter partisan dispute in the Texas Statehouse, the department announced today.

The withdrawal from the case by the department's acting inspector general, Clark Kent Ervin, was another awkward turn in the controversy for the department, which has been forced to explain why its resources were diverted last week to a politically inspired hunt for the private plane of a Democratic state lawmaker.

The announcement of Mr. Ervin's withdrawal came on the same day that a group of Texas Democrats in the United States House of Representatives wrote to the secretary of homeland security, Tom Ridge, to urge that Mr. Ervin, an unsuccessful Republican Congressional candidate from Houston, be pulled off the inquiry because of his "political conflict of interest."

The whole episode has been a textbook case to the ACLU and others of how the Bush Administration would misuse the DHS for political purposes.

And a columnist at the Austin American Statesman makes the point that DHS can now help him find his car, if they have so much free time.

Certainly if the DPS thinks the federal government has time to go looking for Pete Laney's plane, Tom Ridge has a few minutes he can devote to my car. This is gumshoe work at its best, isn't it? The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, said in a written statement that the DPS request made it sound as if the plane was lost, missing or maybe even had crashed.

What's kinda scary is that the feds never did find that plane. Oh, well. They can't find Osama bin Laden, so why would you expect them to find Pete Laney's plane? Maybe they ought to practice and try to find Waldo. Come to think of it, maybe I ought to blow off calling Homeland Security and just go looking for my Honda myself. I don't have that kind of time. I've got to be somewhere next March.

Meanwhile, Texas Republicans have come up with a new color-coded security system to let people know the danger level of Democrats in the area: green, the lowest level of danger, through red, the highest. Green means the possibility of social programs, and red means an increase in federal spending for the poor. It makes me nervous just thinking about it.

Tom Ridge has managed to make the DHS a laughingstock already.

Still having trouble finding that anthrax terrorist, are we?

Steve :: 10:16 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!