The Honolulu Advertiser, in an editorial on Monday, July 9, 2001 suggested that we “Let Pentagon name the bases to close”.
The problem with letting the Pentagon pick the list is that Congress still gets to decide which bases get closed without any sort of oversight, which of course means that few, if any, will get closed. The editorial writer may not be aware of this. The whole idea behind the independent commission making recommendations to Congress was to get the political pork-fest out of the process. I served on the 1995 staff of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. The Commission sent it’s recommendations to the President as one report, which were BASED in large part on what DoD wanted closed. Once the President approved the Report, it was sent on to Congress who could vote yes or no to the ENTIRE recommendation. They were unable to make any changes or attach any amendments according to the statute that established the Commission. In short, DoD made recommendations for closures, which were sent to the Commission, which in turn investigated DoD’s recommendations, held PUBLIC hearings where local citizens could have their voices heard (will DoD do this?), and Commissioners testified before Congress several times before submitting the final report to the President for his perusal. If DoD makes the recommendations alone and sends them to Congress, the same old pork-fest that occurred in 1990 will happen again. The debacle that occurred the last time DoD made the selections spurred passage of the law that established the Commission. In short, neither DoD or Congress can be trusted to do the job and so the law was designed to treat them accordingly. They made this necessary treatment quite clear through their embarrassing behaviour the first time. If DoD is going to make recommendations alone this time, then some serious lawmaking must be done first to restrict the ability of Congress to turn the recommendations into pork-fest 2001.