Subpoena spurs Pentagon to release base-closing documents

Sen. Joseph Lieberman says Defense has been “at least partially responsive” to questions about BRAC.

The chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said Tuesday that they have been successful in gaining more base realignment and closure documents from the Pentagon.

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., issued a subpoena last week after the Pentagon delayed the public release of some BRAC papers. The Defense Department has proposed closing 33 major facilities nationwide, realigning 29 others, and closing or realigning hundreds of smaller military locations.

On Monday, Lieberman issued a statement saying the Pentagon has been "at least partially responsive" to questions about BRAC.

The recommendations have been sent to the nine-member BRAC commission and that group is scheduled to pass on its proposals to President Bush by Sept. 8. The president and Congress are required to accept or reject the base closures and realignments in their entirety.

Lawmakers protested, however, saying some communities were at a disadvantage during local public hearings held by the BRAC commission because the Pentagon had not made available all its base-closing material. The Pentagon has recently released more information, according to congressional staffers.

"We are gratified that, as a result of Senators Lieberman's and Collins' subpoena, the Pentagon has increased the stream of data it is making available," said Leslie Phillips, a spokeswoman for Lieberman. "We expect some of this information will be helpful in answering our questions, although additional analysis is needed to confirm that."

Collins and Lieberman represent states that would be among the hardest hit by the base realignment and closure process. Under the plan, Connecticut would lose 8,586 civilian and military jobs and Maine would lose 6,938.

Earlier this week, Collins and Lieberman praised the Pentagon for its renewed cooperation in sharing information. They extended the subpoena's deadline because of what they called a "good faith effort" on the part of the Pentagon to release BRAC documents, according to Lieberman's office.

The new deadline is set for Friday.

"We expect the information flow to continue through the week," Phillips said.