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2 Senators Subpoena Pentagon Over Bases

June 08, 2005|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — Two U.S. senators, frustrated by Pentagon delays in releasing crucial data on military base closing decisions, issued a subpoena Tuesday to obtain additional documents.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the Republican chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the committee's ranking Democrat, said the Pentagon was failing to meet its legal obligations to give communities information that could help them argue against the base closings.

The subpoena, issued under the authority of Collins' committee, gives the Pentagon until Monday to respond.

Lieberman is trying to reverse the proposed closure of the New London Submarine Base in Groton, Conn., where 8,460 jobs are at stake, while Collins is trying to save the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, where 4,510 people work.

The two facilities are among 33 major military installations that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld recommended for closure in May, along with cutbacks at hundreds of other bases at a cost of more than 26,000 jobs.

Lawmakers have been clamoring for nearly two weeks for detailed information on how the Pentagon evaluated each facility.

The Pentagon has said it is working to declassify documents for public consumption.

"There is no justification for a vast majority of the documents being classified," Collins told reporters.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which has the power to overrule the Pentagon's recommendations, already has canceled regional public hearings in St. Louis and Salt Lake City due to the lack of data.

The nine-member commission must submit changes to President Bush by Sept. 8. Bush and Congress then can accept or reject the changes in their entirety. Reversing a closure decision must be based on strategic military concerns, not possible economic damage to an area.

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