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[casi] Democrats in Hiding in Texas

In my opinion, this is very serious. The 170,000 strong Dept. of Homeland
Security is Bush's praetorian guard or Gestapo, to carry out his personal
political agenda? There may be solid grounds for impeachment here.

--------- Begin forwarded message ----------
Subject: Democrats in Hiding in Texas
Date: Thu, 15 May 2003 23:25:49 -0400
Message-ID: <>

Homeland Security Tracks Democrats

The On-Line Beat by John Nichols
05/14/2003 @ 6:18pm

The Department of Homeland Security's Air and Marine
Interdiction Division (AMID) says its mission is to
"Protect the Nation's borders and the American people
from the smuggling of narcotics and other contraband
with an integrated and coordinated air and marine
interdiction force."

So it is easy to understand why Texans were scratching
their heads when they learned that the division's Air
and Marine Interdiction and Coordination Center in
Riverside, California, played a critical role in
tracking down the Democratic legislators who went
missing from the Texas Capitol this week.

The revelation that the federal anti-terrorism agency
joined the Republican-sponsored hunt for the Texas
legislators has sparked a fury in Austin and in
Washington. While the Texas Democratic Party is calling
for an accounting of all the state and federal
resources employed in the partisan dragnet,
Congressional Democrats in Washington are demanding to
know how and why a Department of Homeland Security
tracking center in California was pulled into the
service of the Republican leadership in the Texas State

The federal angle is the latest twist in the bizarre
saga of Republican abuse of power and Democratic
counter moves in Texas.

The story of the absent legislators is big news, not
just in Texas but in Washington. US House Majority
Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was furious with the
Democrats, whose absence will prevent enactment of a
redistricting plan DeLay had crafted to increase the
number of Texas congressional districts likely to elect
Republicans from 15 to 19. The legally-dubious
gerrymandering scheme has been a top priority of DeLay;
the powerful Republican leader admits he has even
discussed it with President Bush, a former Texas
governor, who reportedly told DeLay, "I'd like to see
that happen." As it became increasingly clear that
DeLay would not get his way -- the absence of the
Democratic legislators has denied the Texas Republican
leaders the quorum needed to approve the redistricting
plan before a Thursday deadline -- he blew up. The man
politicos refer to as "The Hammer" was so angry that he
speculated on Tuesday about whether federal law might
allow FBI agents to travel to the Oklahoma hotel where
51 Democrats were staying, arrest the lawmakers and
return them to Austin before the deadline. U.S.
Representative Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said it appeared
that Republican leaders were trying to make federal law
enforcement agencies "Tom DeLay's personal police

DeLay's dream was not to be, however. When Texas House
Speaker Tom Craddick, DeLay's man in Austin, asked the
Federal Bureau of Investigation or the US Marshall
Service to do the GOP's bidding, the offical response
was "no." US Department of Justice spokesman Jorge
Martinez told reporters that responsibility for
tracking down the legislators "falls squarely within
the purview of state authority, and it would not
warrant investigation by federal authorities."

But, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the
federal Air and Marine Interdiction Division did get
involved in the investigation. The division, a
combination of old Customs Department agencies that now
operates under the jurisdiction of the Bush
Administration's Homeland Security Department, has long
used its California facility to monitor efforts to
illegally enter the United States via the skies or
waterways. The Star-Telegram reports that, after the
Texas Democratic legislators went missing early this
week, "The agency got a call, it's unclear exactly from
when or from whom, to locate a certain Piper Turbo-Prop

The Air and Marine Interdiction and Coordination Center
in Riverside reportedly tracked the aircraft in
question -- which belongs to former House Speaker Pete
Laney, one of the departed Democrats -- to Ardmore,

When questioned, Republican Tom Craddick admitted that
the information about the plane's location was critical
to solving the mystery of where the Democrats had
disappeared to. "We called someone and they said they
were going to track it," Craddick said of the plane.
"That's how we found them."

As it turned out, Oklahoma authorities laughed off
attempts by the Texas Department of Public Safety to
extend their authority across the state line. So
knowing where the Democrats were sleeping was of little

But the nagging question of how the Department of
Homeland Security got pulled into the investigation
lingers. Craddick won't say who it was that promised to
track Pete Laney's place. And the usually precise Tom
DeLay goes a little vague when it comes to answering
questions about his meddling in state and federal

That hasn't stopped Texans from asking questions,
however. "I thought the Department of Homeland Security
was supposed to be busy monitoring terrorist threats --
especially external terrorist threats," says Sarah
Wheat, a Texas abortion rights activist who, like many
Texans, says she is glad the Democrats went AWOL. "The
only threat the Democratic legislators pose is to Tom
DeLay's political agenda and a whole bunch of bad

Texas representatives in Washington from trying to get
to the bottom of what appears to be a serious abuse of
federal power. U.S. House members from Texas have
written U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, Homeland
Security Secretary Tom Ridge and FBI Director Robert
Mueller, demanding details regarding federal
involvement in the search and seeking an investigation
of DeLay's efforts to enlist federal help in the search
for the Texas legislators.

U.S. Representative Martin Frost, D-Texas, expressed
his outrage by making a historical comparison,
explaining that, "Not since Richard Nixon and Watergate
30 years ago has there been an effort to involve
federal law enforcement officials in a partisan
political matter."


--------- End forwarded message ----------

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