|7:56 PM EDT||
Max Sandlin, D-TX 1st
Mr. SANDLIN. Mr. Speaker, there is disturbing news coming out of Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, today that should be of great and grave concern to all Americans. Because, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Homeland Security, a U.S. government agency, has basically now had to admit that it used a homeland security plane and government resources for political purposes and now they are covering it up. As most of the country now knows, Texas Democrats in the State House recently absented themselves
from the floor to break a quorum, a legitimate parliamentary maneuver. This angered the Republican powers that be in Washington, D.C. A homeland security plane was dispatched to try to follow and harass Pete Laney, the former Democratic Speaker of the Texas House, and other members. Upon being caught and not before, the Department of Homeland Security said that they actually were under the impression that the plane was lost or crashed.
Mr. Speaker, that is just not credible. That is just not so. Period.
Now it has been learned that a tape and a transcript of the contact between Homeland Security and law enforcement has been discovered. And what has been the response of homeland security? They refused to turn over the tape. They refused to turn over the transcript.
Mr. Speaker, I have two questions. What did they know and when did they know it? The U.S. Congress calls upon Homeland Security to release the tapes, stop the cover-up, and do it now. Otherwise, they need to get a dictionary and they need to look up the word ``subpoena.'' Otherwise, they need to get the statutes and look up in the statutes the term ``freedom of information.''
The use of the Federal Government for political purposes should frighten all Americans. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram said this Sunday, ``To meet the threat of global terrorism, the United States is assembling enormous Federal resources focusing on activities in American cities, neighborhoods and countrysides that could endanger those citizens. If we are to have this security apparatus, it must be contained to its designated purposes. There must be every safeguard so that it does not cross the
thin line between protecting innocent citizens and spying on their private lives. That these security resources were used no matter in what minor way in a Texas political dispute should be alarming to us all.''
And, Mr. Speaker, alarmingly there is more. Not only has the Federal Government been spying on citizens for private purposes and then covering it up but also the authority of the state has been used to intimidate and terrorize the families of Texas legislators.
Here are some examples: Representative Craig Eiland, his wife recently had premature twins, the twins in the neonatal unit of the hospital. Investigators were sent to the neonatal unit to [Page: H4225]
investigate and question nurses, sent to his wife's home to terrorize her.
Representative Chuck Hopson, his wife left Austin to drive 4 miles to Jacksonville. The law enforcement officer got on her bumper and went with her the entire way.
Police entered the home of Joe Pickett, a State representative. His 17-year-old daughter was there alone, and as he explained it, ``They scared the holy hell out of her.''
Patrick Rose had his car searched after it had been placed on the TV and everybody in the whole country knew that the Texas legislators were in Oklahoma. A senior staff member, Representative Naishtat, was told it was a felony to withhold information about his whereabouts, a total lie.
In the Corpus Christi newspaper it said this: ``The wife of State Representative Jaime Capelo, Democrat, Corpus Christi, looked out her kitchen window Tuesday and noticed a blue four-door vehicle driving past. The driver looked at her home as he passed. The vehicle pulled up next to a white Chevy. `I asked him why he was watching my house.' The man identified himself as a State trooper and told her that officials in Austin had called his office and told the troopers to follow her.''
These abuses and others prompted State Representative Jim Dunnam from Waco to send a letter to Speaker Craddick and say in part: ``P.S. as you know, we are at the Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Please stop having our loved ones followed and staked out by law enforcement.'' Mr. Speaker, surely, surely Mr. Craddick's family raised him better than that.
Mr. Speaker, using the power and authority of the Federal Government to trample the U.S. Constitution and the freedoms we hold dear is outrageous. Covering it up makes it worse. Coordinating with State enforcement to terrorize innocent families is not only illegal; it is inexcusable. It is time for the Federal Government to come clean and come clean now. Release the tapes, release the transcripts, stop the cover-up. The Constitution is superior to the arrogance of power. Thanks to my State reps,
Barry Telford, Mark Homer, Chuck Hopson, they know that. They have learned that lesson. I wish the Republican power brokers in Washington, D.C. do the same thing.