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Base closing commission sends report to Bush

US judge rejects effort to save Otis

WASHINGTON -- The base closing commission submitted its recommendations to the White House last night after withdrawing proposed changes at an Air National Guard base in Connecticut after the state won a court injunction.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Massachusetts rejected the state's efforts to save Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod. Like several other states, Massachusetts argued that changes to their National Guard units or bases must be approved by governors.

But US District Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. said the state had not met the legal requirements for a temporary restraining order because it had not shown that Massachusetts would suffer ''immediate irreparable harm" if the order was not granted. O'Toole also said the state had failed to demonstrate that the lawsuit is likely to succeed.

Governor Mitt Romney pledged to ''take every possible course we can to preserve Otis," and Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly said he planned to discuss legal options with Romney and the state's congressional delegation.

O'Toole did not rule on the issues raised in the lawsuit, such as whether changes to National Guard units must be approved by governors. He agreed with lawyers for the US attorney's office and the US Justice Department that the submission of the recommendations to the president would not cause immediate harm because they must still be reviewed by Bush and Congress.

Judges in Connecticut and Tennessee, meanwhile, blocked the Base Realignment and Closure Commission from recommending changes at local Air National Guard bases. The Tennessee decision was overruled by an appeals court yesterday afternoon, but the Connecticut injunction stood.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rejected the Bush administration's request for intervention in the Connecticut case.

The closure panel, which was bound by law to send its report to the president by yesterday, withdrew the portion of the report recommending the realignment of Connecticut's 103d Fighter Wing. The plan would have moved jets from Connecticut's Bradley Air National Guard base to Massachusetts.

The commission said it would restore the recommendation if the Connecticut court's injunction ''is later vacated, reversed, stayed, or otherwise withdrawn."

Separately, Illinois, Missouri, and New Jersey lost emergency Supreme Court appeals intended to stop the commission from sending the report to the president. Facilities in those states are among hundreds targeted by the base closing panel for closure or consolidation in the first round of base closings in a decade.

Solicitor General Paul Clement, the administration's Supreme Court lawyer, said the court should safeguard the work of the president and a commission that has spent five months on a plan to restructure domestic military bases to save billions of dollars.

The president has pledged to pass the commission's final report on to Congress without changes. Copies of the report will be delivered this morning to Congress and the Defense Department.

Congress will then have 45 days to block it, although lawmakers have never rejected reports in previous base closing rounds.

Ginsburg, a Clinton appointee, said a federal appeals court in New York was dealing with the Connecticut case and ''this court should not short-circuit the normal review process absent a showing of irreparable harm stronger than that presented here."

Clement had argued for the government that a Connecticut judge was out of line Wednesday in barring the commission from recommending changes at Bradley.

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