Senators say base closing documents fall short

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., say the Pentagon has not released all the information used in the BRAC recommendations.

Two senators said Thursday that the Defense Department has not released all the documents that were used to develop the base realignment and closing recommendations.

On Tuesday night, the Pentagon opened a secure room for lawmakers and congressional staffers with security clearances to view the BRAC documents. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that the material should be available to the public on Saturday.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and ranking member Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., criticized the Pentagon this week for not making the BRAC documents available to the public before the BRAC panel visits regional bases and holds hearings to make their decisions on the recommendations.

On Thursday, Collins and Lieberman went even further, saying an initial review showed that the classified documents made available this week still fall far short of congressional demands. The senators previously had threatened to subpoena the documents from the Defense Department.

"The documents made available [Tuesday night], unfortunately, do not appear to come close to addressing the requests that we made last week," Collins and Lieberman said in a joint statement. "While these documents are currently undergoing review, we have no indication thus far that they satisfy our request. Once the review of these documents is completed, we will determine whether a subpoena is necessary."

Collins and Lieberman have demanded all relevant information, including "e-mails, memoranda, spreadsheets, analyses, raw data, handwritten notes and telephone logs."

The senators said that the "specific information that we requested" could help ensure the "integrity" of the base realignment and closure process.

Defense Department officials did not return calls seeking comment on the senators' statement.

Last month, the Defense Department recommended closing or realigning hundreds of military facilities, including the shuttering of 33 major military bases. The BRAC commission now is visiting bases and will make its own recommendations, based on the Pentagon list. Congress and President Bush then will have to accept or reject the BRAC list in its entirety.

The delayed release of the BRAC information has prevented local communities from launching full-fledged defenses of their local bases, according to Collins and Lieberman.