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DPS continues its Keystone Kops routine

You know things are going badly at the Department of Public Safety when they can’t even dupe a tape without screwing it up:

“I don’t know if people are trying to run out the clock so we’re not in town any more or if it’s just incompetence. Either one is bothersome,” said Rep. Kevin Bailey, D-Houston, chairman of the House General Investigating Committee.

Bailey’s committee is looking into how the Texas Department of Public Safety coordinated its search for 55 missing legislators on May 12, whether anyone associated with U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay helped direct the search and why DPS officials ordered some records on the issue destroyed on May 14.

As part of the probe, Bailey had asked DPS to turn over Capitol security tapes for the hallway outside of House Speaker Tom Craddick’s office. A DPS command post was set up May 12 in Craddick’s reception room, and Bailey said he wants to know who went in and out of that room.

Bailey said the DPS provided his staff with copies of the security tapes late Friday. As the staff watched them over the weekend, the entire week was available except for the afternoon of May 12. He said the tape stopped at 12:47 p.m. and did not begin again until 6 p.m.

“It’s odd that it was the day and time that we wanted,” Bailey said. “It’s fine all week, except for that one period.”

DPS officials scrambled to make a new copy of the May 12 afternoon tape, which was given to the lawmaker Monday evening.

“It’s a simple malfunction,” said DPS spokesman Tom Vinger. “They’re copying hours and hours of tape. They just didn’t notice some was missing.”

Y’know, maybe setting up DPS to oversee state crime labs isn’t such a good idea after all.

UPDATE: DPS managed to copy the missing tape without overwriting it with the last Buffy episode or some such. As Josh Marshall notes, the missing segment has quite a bit of potential for muckraking:

[House Investigations Committee Chairman Kevin Bailey, D-Houston] also indicated that a Travis County grand jury investigating the destruction of records has apparently extended to some House members; [Jim] Ellis, an aide to U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay; and perhaps DeLay himself.

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle was unavailable for comment.

Last week, Earle quietly convened a grand jury and took testimony from DPS law enforcement chief Marshall Caskey. His focus was on the agency’s role in destroying files that DPS criminal investigators compiled during the two days that state troopers and Texas Rangers were searching for the runaway legislators.

Bailey’s committee and Earle apparently have zeroed in on a six-hour period May 12 as the likeliest time DPS officials called federal Homeland Security officers to seek their help in tracking down the Democrats.

It was that time period that was missing on the tape.

What a shame that grand jury proceedings are confidential.

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3 Comments

  1. Chuck Nolan says:

    Hey, it worked for Nixon, didn’t it?

  2. Morat says:

    Too bad Kenneth Starr isn’t running it. We’d know exactly what the Grand Jury was being told.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe these immature CHILDREN are in charge of legislating for the people. They stuff their faces full of lobbyist freebies and except for thses immature stunts, they let the lobbyists and special interests have it ALL. That is who REALLY runs/ ruins State. Big Oil & Gas, Big Sindurance, Big Agriculture, Big Business ( The kind that thinks all employees are interchangeable, replaceable peons or field hands) and Big Idiots as exemplified here.

    I thought about running for public office but the hought that I jigth be able to sit dow nand converse one on one on an INTELLIGENT basis with a lobbyist or a special interest person and see how I could best serve them AND my constituents… but G*d forbid, that would actually be the old timey politics my Dad used to do.. These guys they hav enow just want to intimidate, steamroll the people into submission and dont want to make deals for anybody except themselves.
    They can go to hell.
    The only problem is they want to take the rest of us with them.