Justice Dept. Supports
Pentagon on Guard Units
The Justice Department is siding with the Pentagon in a dispute with some states, concluding that governors' consent is not needed for the military to move Air National Guard units.
The Pentagon's proposal to close or reduce about 30 units has emerged as the most contentious issue facing the independent commission that will decide next month which parts of the Defense Department's base-closing plan to accept or change.
Giving governors what would amount to veto power over the Pentagon's plans, at least with respect to National Guard units, would undermine a process created by Congress to reduce the role of politics in deciding which bases to close, the department said in response to a lawsuit filed by the state of Pennsylvania.
Illinois has filed a similar lawsuit, arguing that the Pentagon lacks the authority to move units without the approval of the governors, who share control with the president over use of the units.
In siding with the Pentagon, Justice lawyers said Pennsylvania was asking to return "to a system in which local politics, rather than national planning, determined which facilities were closed and which were spared."
Pennsylvania officials questioned the propriety of the Justice Department offering opinions to the base-closing commission while also representing the Defense Department against the state's lawsuit.
"Where is the independent judgment or analysis?" asked Adrian R. King Jr., an aide to Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D).
For the Record
* Gary M. Bald, the FBI's counterterrorism chief, was named director of the bureau's new National Security Service a day after Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) criticized his lack of experience and knowledge about the Middle East and terrorism. Bald will run a division within the FBI that brings counterintelligence, counterterrorism and intelligence operations under one umbrella. Philip Mudd, currently deputy director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, was named deputy head of the National Security Service.
* David Margolis, a lawyer at the Justice Department for 40 years, was named to oversee special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation of who in the Bush administration disclosed the name of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame. Margolis, whose title is associate deputy attorney general, is taking the place of Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, who left to become Lockheed Martin's new general counsel.
* A Navy admiral who is a submariner by training and a former senior military aide to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was sworn in as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr. replaces Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, who stepped aside and will take over Oct. 1 as chairman of the Joint Chiefs. That is when the current chairman, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, is scheduled to retire.
* The United States issued a security alert to Americans during Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank and warned of violent protests there over the next few weeks. The State Department also reiterated that U.S. citizens should defer any unnecessary visits to the West Bank, avoid all travel to Gaza and carefully weigh the need to go to Israel.
-- From News Services