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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old May 22nd, 2003, 01:42 PM       
Cute comeback. but my guess is they had the same reason Ms. Clinton had. The figured somebody might find something incriminating. Unless I missed your point and you meant our former first lady was completely innocent.
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El Blanco El Blanco is offline
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Old May 22nd, 2003, 02:27 PM       
No, you were right the first time. Wise ass remark. I think they were covering their asses. Not so much something criminal as something stupid.
according to my mongoose, anyway.
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old May 22nd, 2003, 07:55 PM       
Stupid indeed, but quite possibly criminal as well. I don't mean in any huge ass conspiracy way, I just mean it may be illegal to Mislead HS that way, like pulling a fire alarm, or calling 911 when you don't need them. The question is, who's idea was it?
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Old May 23rd, 2003, 12:46 PM       
(From Newsday.com)

"The DPS (Texas Department of Safety) memo ordering the documents be destroyed was e-mailed May 14, the day after the search for the legislators was called off, DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said.

The order stated: "Any notes, correspondence, photos, etc. that were obtained pursuant to the absconded House of Representative members shall be destroyed immediately. No copies are to be kept. Any questions please contact me." It was signed by L.C. "Tony" Marshall, commander of the DPS Special Crimes Service.

Marshall Caskey, chief of the agency's criminal law enforcement division, told Marshall to order the documents destroyed, Vinger said."

from the Houston Chronicle, we have:

"The Texas Republican Party chief told colleagues last week that she was deliberately using language in public statements that connoted "criminal wrongdoing" in a Democratic walkout that shut down the state House.

She acknowledged at another point in the conversation that the act was not criminal, but that it "probably should be," according to a tape of a conference call with party leaders obtained by the Chronicle."

Since no law was broken, the use of the Texas Rangers and state police was a waste of taxpayer money. Before anyone complains about the reps wasting money by not showing for work, they make $600 a month, far less than a state trooper. Oh, and the chronicle reports most of the dems forfeitted their per diems and are not accepting pay or benefits for the missing days. I don't think any of the troopers have offered to do the same while they neglected chasing criminals or enforcing laws. The dems also paid for their own hotel rooms.
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The_Rorschach The_Rorschach is offline
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Old May 23rd, 2003, 12:53 PM       
So? They were irresponsible to leave their post of duty. Had they been military, they would have been stripped of their rate and dishonourably discharged. In a time of war they would have been killed.

They are grown men, and hiding from their jobs because things were no longer in their favour. The Republics were just as childish in their response, and not to perpetuate such grade-school antics, but. . .

They started it.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Jun 5th, 2003, 01:54 PM       

June 4, 2003, 10:07PM

Craddick's role detailed

Trooper describes search for AWOL lawmakers

Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau

AUSTIN -- A temporary command center in the state Capitol took on the air of a tense war room last month as police and top state officials searched for runaway Democratic legislators, according to depositions released Wednesday.

A state trooper who coordinated the search described an impatient governor, tips from secret sources and intelligence gleaned from a videotaped news conference.

"We assumed that there was a lot of things going on that we did not know about," said Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. William Crais. "There was a lot of things being told to us that were happening behind the scenes."

A small room adjacent to the office of House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, served as the command center in the search for 55 Democratic representatives who left Austin to deprive the House of a quorum and kill a Republican congressional redistricting plan.

When the Democrats failed to show up for work the morning of May 12, Craddick -- acting under House rules and a vote of members present -- ordered that the runaways be arrested and returned to the Capitol.

In his sworn testimony, Crais said Craddick provided leads and directed DPS personnel in the command center.

"He requested certain things of us and I used our resources to get those things done," Crais said. "He would walk in there and give instructions."

Craddick's office released a statement Wednesday saying that his perception of his involvement in the hunt was different than Crais' recollection. He said he passed information to DPS investigators, but spent much of that day dealing with other issues.

"I don't believe, though, that I ever personally went into the command center to order anyone around or in any way direct the operation," he said. "It was important to me, of course, that enough members be found to get a quorum, but I am not trained in police work and chose to stay out of it whenever possible."

Crais said Craddick told him legislators were in Santa Fe, N.M., and Ardmore, Okla. When Crais asked the source of that information, he testified, Craddick and Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock, answered, "We know that."

Crais testified for nearly three hours on Monday at the office of an Austin attorney. Transcripts of his deposition were released Wednesday by the attorney general's office, along with the depositions of Texas Ranger D.H. "Dino" Henderson, DPS Lt. Ken Scheer and Mary Ann Courter of the state attorney general's office.

The depositions were taken in connection with a lawsuit that state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, has filed against DPS, alleging it improperly destroyed documents generated during the search. Burnam was one of the quorum-busting Democrats.

Henderson testified that Craddick told him legislators were in Santa Fe and had to be picked up and returned to Texas. "Speaker Craddick was the main focus at that time for the information," Henderson said.

Crais said that on the evening of May 12, Gov. Rick Perry appeared at the door of the command center and asked who was in charge.

When Crais identified himself, he testified, the governor asked him to step into Craddick's office and then began chastising him.

He said the governor was impatient that officers had not found the missing legislators using information developed earlier in the day.

Perry looked at his watch and said, "You had this information since 9 o'clock; it is now almost nine hours later. How come you haven't found them?" Crais testified.

Crais said Perry complained about leaks to news agencies, and handed him a document with information that the premature twins of Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, were hospitalized and that Eiland might be at the hospital.

"He said, `I want the Texas Rangers to go by and locate Mr. Eiland,' " said Crais. Perry also wanted Rangers dispatched to Brownsville to search for the Democratic representative from there, Rene Oliveira.

Later, Crais said, Perry told him he was doing a good job and not to worry about "what happened."

When asked if he knew what Perry meant by "what happened," Crais said, "Well, it wasn't very pleasant when I talked to the governor."

Perry's office declined to comment about the depositions.

"The issue is over and dead," said spokeswoman Kathy Walt.

Crais said the information compiled in the search for the legislators included a list of emergency contacts each had given Capitol security officers at the beginning of the legislative session.

Crais said the search narrowed after some of the Democrats appeared in a news conference at an Ardmore hotel. He said officers used a videotape of that to account for some of the legislators.

State police searched for the runaway lawmakers May 12 and 13, but called off the manhunt after it became clear that 51 legislators were in Ardmore -- enough to prevent a House quorum until the redistricting bill died May 15. DPS officers did not have jurisdiction to arrest the legislators in Oklahoma.

Three other Democratic representatives hid out in Texas, and one went to Mexico.

The depositions depicted an occasional almost comic element to the command center operations.

A DPS analyst brought to the center to access databases ended up running errands and making phone calls because no one provided her with a computer.

And Crais testified that he at first dispatched two sergeants from the DPS special crimes division to man the command center, but that the politically charged atmosphere apparently made them anxious.

Crais said he took over command of the DPS operation in the Capitol after one of his subordinates called to say, "This is no place for a sergeant."
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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 07:19 PM       

Published on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 by the Houston Chronicle

Report Clears Worker in Dems Search
Lawmakers asking more questions of GOP as `Killer D' case is referred to FBI

by Karen Masterson and Armando Villafranca

WASHINGTON -- A Homeland Security Department investigation has cleared an agency worker of any wrongdoing in the effort last month to help Texas Republicans track down missing Democratic lawmakers and referred questionable actions by the state Department of Public Safety to the FBI.

The report, released late Monday by the department's inspector general, found an agency employee spent 40 minutes and was involved in eight phone calls trying to track down former state House Speaker Pete Laney's airplane during a partisan standoff over redistricting.

The inspector general's report said the behavior by the dispatcher at the Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center in California did not amount to fraud or abuse of federal resources.

Laney and 50 other Democrats fled to Ardmore, Okla., May 12 to prevent state House action on a congressional redistricting bill being pushed by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Sugar Land Republican.

Monday's inspector general report did not address whether the Texas Department of Public Safety lied or violated state or federal law when it subsequently destroyed documents relating to state troopers' efforts to get the Homeland Security Department involved.

Those questions were referred to the FBI, the report said. However, an FBI spokesman in San Antonio said Monday that the agency does not have jurisdiction to investigate the DPS.

Brian Roehrkasse, spokesman for Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, said his agency's part in determining any wrongdoing is over.

"The results of this investigation clearly indicate that the (air interdiction) officer believed he was searching for a missing aircraft," he said.

Democrats disagreed with the assessment. They argued Monday that the agency blacked out large sections of the transcript of communications between the air interdiction office and the Texas DPS, proving more needs to be revealed.

"This attempt to filter the truth raises as many unanswered questions as it offers gaps and omissions. It's really more of a `don't ask, don't tell' policy than a comprehensive investigation," said U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin.

In its report, the inspector general's office stated that the Texas DPS had been uncooperative during the investigation.

"DPS officials interviewed by the (inspector general's office) declined to provide any information identifying the person or persons who requested surveillance assistance and claimed they destroyed all notes, memoranda, or other correspondence related to this incident," the report said.

Meanwhile, in a deposition released Monday, state Homeland Security Coordinator Jay Kimbrough denied suggesting to state officials that federal agencies be recruited to help search for the missing legislators.

Kimbrough said he called the FBI only after House Speaker Tom Craddick, a Republican, gave him the name and number of an agent in Oklahoma. He said Craddick wanted him to call the agent to determine whether the FBI had any jurisdiction in the case because the missing legislators had crossed state lines.

"The speaker of the House gave me a number and said, `Here, call this FBI agent to see if ... these guys have any jurisdiction since they (the Texas Democrats known to be in Oklahoma) have crossed state lines,' " Kimbrough said in the deposition taken in a civil lawsuit brought by state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth. Burnam alleges that DPS illegally destroyed records.

That sworn testimony -- along with a deposition given by DPS Lt. Will Crais, portraying a similar account -- suggests Craddick played a much larger role in seeking federal help.

Bob Richter, Craddick's spokesman, said the speaker's involvement was minimal.

"Craddick was not directing the operation," Richter said.

The report closes one of many investigations into the conduct of GOP leaders during the four-day hunt for the missing Democrats.

"It's yet another authority confirming that the actions taken were appropriate and complying with the call of the speaker," said Kathy Walt, Gov. Rick Perry's spokeswoman.

Also unresolved is an inquiry opened by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta into whether the Federal Aviation Administration inappropriately gave DeLay information pinpointing Laney's flight information.

The information DeLay got from the FAA was relayed to the DPS, which used it to convince the air interdiction office to track Laney's plane. A spokesman for Mineta said Monday that the agency's inquiry continues.

Democrats have accused DeLay and Craddick of masterminding an elaborate effort to get federal authorities involved in what was a state partisan matter. And they believe Republicans at the state and federal level are trying to protect their party leaders.

"Why wouldn't the Texas Department of Public Safety tell DHS investigators who ordered them to involve homeland security officials in this political dispute?" asked Rep. Martin Frost, D-Dallas. "Who is the DPS trying to protect? And what does this have to do with the unprecedented order to destroy DPS documents?"

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat who is running for president, said Monday that he is not satisfied with the Homeland Security Department's report, nor has he received answers to questions he asked regarding White House involvement in the Texas redistricting battle.

© Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle

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Old Jun 19th, 2003, 05:19 PM       

Posted on Wed, Jun. 18, 2003

Report says Texas authorities not helpful in investigation

Knight Ridder Newspapers

AUSTIN, Texas - (KRT) - U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials thought something was "fishy" last month when Texas state police officials asked them to help locate a missing airplane believed be carrying state legislators.

Then, when they tried to find out how the terrorism-fighting agency got snared into the hunt for quorum-busting Democrats last month, the Texas Department of Public Safety "consistently interrupted and challenged" federal investigators.

Those revelations are contained in papers released Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security - all part of an in-house investigation into what assistance was provided by the department's plane-tracking Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center.

DPS officials declined comment.

The 35-page report released Tuesday afternoon said the federal agency made a handful of phone calls and spent a total of 40 minutes on the case - which it described as "a typical request from a law enforcement agency."

However, in supporting documents released on the agency's Web site Wednesday, an employee at the California-based air interdiction center later determined "it was more than a routine request."

The search for the AWOL legislators began on May 12, when more than 50 House Democrats broke a quorum to kill a redistricting plan. The air and marine center was called that night after House Republicans began looking for a plane belonging to former House Speaker Pete Laney, D-Hale Center.

DPS later found the plane in Graham - with no legislators in sight - after the Federal Aviation Administration helped identify the spot where it had dropped below radar.

During its exchanges with the DPS and a West Texas airport operator, officials at the air and marine center became suspicious about whether the call from Texas was appropriate, particularly after the DPS said it couldn't give details about the search effort.

"They all agreed it sounded `fishy,' " the report said.

Also emerging from the documents are contradictions about who was involved in the decision to get Homeland Security involved.

In a sworn deposition in a related civil lawsuit, DPS Lt. Will Crais said he acted alone.

But in his interview with federal investigators, Crais reportedly said "several individuals requested him to look for the airplane," and that he called the air and marine center at "the direction of unnamed individuals."

During the interview, Crais asked if he had to name the individuals. He was told by the investigators that they "could not compel" him to - and he did not, the report said.

DPS officials interviewed as part of the federal probe were also described as uncooperative.

"The (Homeland Security inspector general's office) was consistently interrupted and challenged by DPS participants that questions were not within the scope of the ... investigation," the memo said.

Republicans say the report shows no wrongdoing occurred. Democrats, meanwhile, are pressing for more investigations. U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, asked U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to launch a probe, citing in particular the DPS' failure to name those "several individuals."

"These documents, provided to the Judiciary Committee late last evening, are the smoking gun that shows a cover up of Texas Gate," said Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the panel.


© 2003, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Visit the Star-Telegram on the World Wide Web: www.star-telegram.com.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Jun 23rd, 2003, 01:18 PM       
" During the interview, Crais asked if he had to name the individuals. He was told by the investigators that they "could not compel" him to - and he did not, the report said. "

That's my favorite part.
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