Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld violated federal law when he recommended the Air National Guard unit at Willow Grove be disbanded, a federal judge ruled Friday, offering hope the Naval Air Station there can be saved.
U.S. District Judge John Padova of Philadelphia ruled that Rumsfeld usurped Gov. Ed Rendell's power to control the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.
Rumsfeld failed to consult Rendell -- and failed to get the governor's approval -- before recommending the National Guard unit at Willow Grove be deactivated, a move that violated federal law, Padova wrote.
If it's upheld, Padova's decision could have broad implications for the base closing process now and in the future.
For the first time, a judge recognized the power of a single elected official -- specifically governors -- to block the disbanding of a military unit, an action Congress tried to prevent when it created the base closing process. The base closure law was created to block politicians from protecting jobs and facilities in specific communities.
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Other state citizens/governor's whose bases are also up for possible changes under the BRAC may want to look into how they were informed, if at all, by Rumsfeld in regards to their closure.