They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Amidst all the public theater of DeLay's pending resignation yesterday, it was easy to lose track of the maneuvering by prosecutors and DeLay that's been informing it all.

Look at the predicament that DeLay is in. On Friday, one of his former aides, Tony Rudy, pled guilty to accepting bribes while working in his office. Rudy also pointed the finger at Ed Buckham, DeLay's former chief of staff and man on K Street, increasing the likelihood that Buckham will go down too (DeLay certainly seems to think so). As we've said before, Buckham is key. If the Justice Department were eventually bring DeLay up on charges, Buckham would be their star witness.

If Delay were backed into a corner, what could he do?

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Oh, my goodness.

As I noted earlier, a senior Homeland Security Department law enforcement agent was busted last October for exposing himself to a girl in the food court of a mall.

Next to the recent arrest of DHS spokesman Brian Doyle on child sex charges, this was just one more reason to take Operation Predator away from DHS, I said. "Predator" is the agency's program to bust child sex criminals.

Now we discover -- that law enforcement agent, Frank Figueroa, used to run Operation Predator.

The victim, a 16-year-old girl, said Figueroa pulled up a leg of his shorts, exposed himself and masturbated for about 10 minutes, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Figueroa was in court this morning; he pleaded no contest to charges of exposure of sexual organs and disorderly conduct He had formerly said he was not guilty. His trial is expected to begin tomorrow.

A couple days ago I raised an eyebrow -- okay, both eyebrows -- at a blog hosted by the Cincinnati Enquirer's online division,

Titled "Grandma in Iraq," the blog is an unvariably upbeat diary of U.S. successes in the effort to rebuild Iraq.

It's written by a Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Suzanne M. Fournier. Except the site didn't identify her job, and Fournier appeared to have mentioned it specifically only once in the last several months.

Folks called, Editor and Publisher got involved, and now the site has changed her attribution -- it reads:

Suzanne Fournier of Alexandria, grandmother of 15, posts from Iraq. Fournier is the Public Affairs Officer for the Gulf Region Southern District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Iraq.

The disclosure is nice to see. I'm still curious to hear from media ethics folks on how they think readers are served by giving a government flack access to publish directly to a newspaper's Web site.

Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) "quietly deposited $3 million of her own money into her campaign last week, far less than the $10 million she promised on national television," the Miami Herald reports.

Chris Ingram, Harris' new spokesman, said not to worry. "The plan is still the same," Ingram told the paper. "You start with the foundation, and then you put up the walls and the roof."

Deputy press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Brian Doyle, shortly after being arrested on charges of seducing a child, courtesy of the Montogomery County Police Department...

Abramoff will start serving time on June 29th at two in the afternoon. That's the word from the Florida judge in the fraud prosecution against him. Remember he's yet to be sentenced for his role in the bribery investigation - that won't happen for a number of months. He'll likely end up with a total sentence of 9 1/2 to 11 years.

As for which prison he'll end up in, it's unclear, although his lawyers are lobbying for somewhere near his home in Maryland, according to Roll Call.

Another reason DHS shouldn't be allowed to chase child predators -- from the Tampa Tribune's coverage of the Doyle kiddie sex bust:

The charges against Doyle are the second involving a Homeland Security official and alleged improper sexual conduct toward a minor in Central Florida in the past six months.

In October, Tampa's newly appointed Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent in charge, Frank Figueroa, was arrested in an Orlando shopping mall, accused of exposing himself to a teenage girl.

Figueroa is scheduled to appear in court this morning to enter a guilty plea in that case.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- ICE -- is the branch of DHS that runs the agency's anti-child-exploitation program, Operation Predator I mentioned below.

By the way, Doyle is said to have confessed to police. He's charged with seven counts of use of a computer to seduce a child and 16 counts of transmission of harmful material to a minor.

Paul Kane makes a hell of a catch in his piece today in Roll Call. He points out that during his interview with Time, Tom DeLay let the cat out of the bag and admitted that a third former aide of his will be found guilty:

TIME: Were there any instances where you failed to adequately supervise people who worked in your office?

DeLay: No, no. Look: I have had hundreds of people work for me. Unfortunately, there's three - one that we let go, Scanlon - that I don't yet, I'll wait until they're found guilty. But it looks like they have violated the trust of my office.

Only two of DeLay's former aides have already pled guilty: Tony Rudy and Michael Scanlon. Ed Buckham would be the third, and as we pointed out last week, he was recently implicated in Tony Rudy's guilty plea. So it already looked like he was likely to go down, but DeLay does us all the service of confirming it here.

DeLay says he'll "wait until they're found guilty." Whether he's talking about a forthcoming guilty plea from Buckham is not clear.

See our post from last week as to who Buckham could bring down with him. As we pointed out, it would be Buckham's guilty plea that would be real trouble for DeLay. Maybe that's why he bowed out Monday.

We noted in this a.m.'s Daily Muck that Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) changed all the locks on the doors of her Senate campaign's Tampa HQ, and posted a security guard at the entrance. Roll Call's Heard on the Hill has this quote, from an unnamed former aide:

"She's so crazy she can't figure out that people aren't trying to get in, they're trying to get out!"
We'd only note that news accounts don't say on which side of the office door Harris posted the guard.

That's right, someone's keeping track. And after last night's bust by Florida cops of a Homeland Security official for soliciting sex from a 14-year-old, we're adding "catching child sex criminals" to that list.

You see, since creating the program three years ago, DHS has actually held up its anti-child-pornography "Operation Predator" as one of its finest accomplishments. From DHS' July 2003 announcement of the initiative:

"Operation Predator integrates the Department's authorities to target those who exploit children," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. "The Department of Homeland Security is coordinating the Department's once-fragmented investigative and intelligence resources into a united campaign against child predators."

... "There is nothing more important than protecting our children - the future of our nation. Through Operation Predator, ICE is in a unique position to carry out this critical responsibility," said Michael J. Garcia, Acting Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

So: if this guy, Brian Doyle, the accused child sex solicitor, is in fact guilty, he was right there under their noses the whole time. According to the Florida sheriff's office, he was even using DHS phones in his efforts.

DHS uses "the full spectrum of cyber, intelligence, investigative, and detention & removal functions" to catch these child exploiters, the agency has claimed. But it took a county sheriff in Florida to bust Doyle. (I called DHS; they confirmed they played no part in the operation.) Does someone lose their job over this? (I mean, besides Doyle.)