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Base-hearing shenanigans

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Years ago there was a television program called "Who do you trust?" That title is a nice fit for the Clinton administration.

Because of a glowing economy, President Clinton is receiving a fairly high overall approval rating. But on the issue of trust, his rating sinks considerably. The tone he sets as the nation's commander-in-chief is not only lacking in integrity and candor but brings into question the credibility of those around him.That is very much in evidence during current hearings in Washington. The House National Security Committee is so certain it's being deceived that it will require Clinton administration officials to be sworn in before they testify about military base closures.

Committee Chairman Floyd Spence, R-S.C., said his committee has never before bothered to swear in witnesses but feels it must now do so.

What a sorry commentary about the current administration. And yet based on its abysmal track record regarding base closures and the way it has treated Utah's Hill Air Force Base, the Security Committee is justified in taking such a step.

The distrust is so great that Spence announced two of the panel's subcommittees will launch more detailed investigations into a possible bid-rigging scandal and will seek all White House documents related to it.

Good luck on getting the documents. If the administration treats this probe as it does others, there will be less and not more information forthcoming, and it will be later rather than sooner.

Unfortunately, when it comes to military bases, the Clinton administration seems determined to do what's best for the Democratic Party and not what's best for the country. That explains the unconscionable delay in closing repair and maintenance depots in California and Texas, even though the order came in 1995.

By postponing the closures of McClellan Air Force Base and Kelly Air Force Base in the voter-rich states of California and Texas, the Clinton administration is not only pandering to partisan politics but costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

The latest chapter in this sorry episode involves efforts to privatize or put to bid the work done at the California and Texas bases so that it will stay in those politically important states.

A "smoking gun" memo obtained by the Utah delegation, wherein Pentagon officials say the White House wanted them to ensure Lockheed Martin could win bids and keep work at McClellan in Sacramento - preventing Hill from winning the work - led to the investigation.

Explanations, such as that the memo doesn't really mean what it says because it was written in a hurry on a Sunday afternoon, are not only laughable but unfortunately predictable based on Clinton's 51/2 years in office.

So, who do you trust?