May 19, 2003
Tom Ridge and Tom DeLay have some explaining to do.
Ridge, the head of Homeland Security, needs to explain just how it happened that his department went after AWOL Democrats down in Texas.
Ridge's Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center, based in California, tracks terrorists and drug dealers, but last week it was sicked on the aircraft carrying the wayward, Oklahoma-bound Democrats.
From day one, or make that from September 12, there was always the potential that the Bush Administration would use its new repressive apparatus to go after domestic political foes. Time and time again, Bush and Ridge and Ashcroft assured us that no such thing would ever happen.
Well, it has already.
And guess who's investigating the matter for Ridge?
A partisan Houston Republican named Clark Kent Ervin, who is allied with the very people who called on Homeland Security to man the battle stations.
Ervin is acting inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security. Anyone with an ounce of concern about the appearance of conflict of interest would recuse himself from the investigation, but Ervin evidently is unencumbered by such niceties.
Nor do they bother Tom DeLay, the House majority leader who hails from Texas. DeLay engineered the controversial redistricting plan that sent the Democrats packing in the first place, and then he suggested that federal agencies could track down the Dems. But now he says he had absolutely nothing to do with the Homeland hunt.
One of the seven deadly sins is hubris. The Republicans are displaying that sin right now, and we'll just have to see whether it's fatal to them--or to us.
Postscript: Hours after this was posted, Clark Kent Ervin came to his senses and did recuse himself from the investigation of how and why Homeland Security got involved in tracking down Texas Democrats.