WASHINGTON – Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., Thursday asked the Homeland Security Department Inspector General’s office to reopen its probe into the misuse of federal authority in connection with a partisan political brawl in Texas, saying the first effort of the IG’s office “reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the harm done.” Lieberman expressed disappointment in the failure of the IG’s office to get a key fact straight, to fully understand the seriousness of the abuse committed, and to address the issue of clear wrongdoing by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“To my dismay, this 3-page report reflects an investigation that appears to have been exceedingly narrow in scope and distressingly conclusory in its analysis,” Lieberman wrote in the letter, dated July 10, 2003. In addition, he said, the failure of the IG’s office “to make recommendations to prevent the future misuse of Department resources is an abdication of one of the essential responsibilities of an Inspector General.” On May 15, 2003, Lieberman requested a full investigation of the involvement of the Homeland Security Department’s Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center in trying to locate Democratic lawmakers boycotting a vote on a controversial redistricting plan. It was later reported that the Texas DPS – which had sought assistance from the AMICC in tracking a small plane believed to be carrying key Democrats – ordered the destruction of documents relating to the search. On June 16, 2003, the IG’s office publicly released its report effectively exonerating AMICC personnel and omitting any analysis of the role of the Texas DPS. “I am troubled that your investigation has left many questions unanswered about the involvement of DHS and its Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center in this partisan political dispute – and failed to garner any information about the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS’s) apparent intentional misuse of DHS resources – and am greatly disappointed that you failed to make any recommendations for preventing such conduct from occurring again or taking action against those who sought to misuse the Department’s authority,” Lieberman wrote. He outlined five areas of concern in the report: