Army's Stryker request on hold

Advertiser story and Star-Bulletin story on the Stryker hearing yesterday. From the Advertiser:
The Army's bid to lift a court order and proceed with Stryker brigade training was delivered a setback yesterday when a federal judge ruled that he won't hear the matter until next month.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra ruled that three Hawaiian and environmental groups opposing the Army's request are entitled to get more information about six Stryker-related projects that the Army wants to resume.

Justice Department lawyers contended that the information wasn't necessary for the judge to proceed and that allowing the groups to obtain the information would delay a ruling on the Army's request.

Ezra said he was limiting what the groups could get, but made it clear he believes his decision on the Army's bid would be overturned by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals if the groups are barred from getting the information.

"You will find yourself in a worse position than you are now," the judge told Justice Department lawyers.

The judge set a hearing for Dec. 18 on the Army's request. He said he will issue a ruling shortly after that.

Doug White comments that:
[T]he longer this legal dispute drags out, the more it becomes possible, perhaps even likely, that the Bush administration and/or Congress will decide to withdraw (oops, we're supposed to say "redeploy") U.S. forces from Iraq. Such a development would diminish the "military necessity" arguments in favor of the Stryker Brigade standing up in Hawaii before its supplemental environmental review is completed.

Update: Haleakala Times has an article yesterday warning that the lame duck congress could threaten federal court order to halt Hawai‘i military expansion: the lame duck session of congress wraps up for the year, an Earthjustice Press Secretary for policy and legislation is warning environmentalists not to break out the champagne too soon. According to Washington D.C-based Cat Lazaroff, the few remaining weeks before the end of the year are often marked by "congressional mischief." It's congress' "last chance to pass appropriations bills and last-minute special-interest riders that earmark dollars and perks for constituents and campaign donors." A congressional exemption to Hawaii's Stryker brigade is on Lazaroff's top ten list of potential "riders" that threaten to undermine environmental legislation.

Update 2: This AP article notes that "GOP leaders have opted to leave behind almost a half-trillion-dollar clutter of unfinished spending bills" which they will pass on the 2007 congress controlled by Democrats, so that may indicate that any last-minute mischief with a Stryker rider is unlikely.

Update 11/24: Star-Bulletin editorializes:
THE Army's maneuver aimed at dodging an appellate court's ruling so it can proceed with its Stryker Brigade project in Hawaii has fallen short. The federal judge whose ruling was overturned on appeal fell into line this week and advised the Army to provide information sought by its adversaries about Stryker options. The Army should reconsider its tactics before trying to become entrenched on shaky legal ground.

And Doug White also notes the editorial, with its suggestion that Abercormbie use his position next year as House Armed Services subcommittee chairman to "bring pressure on the Army to resolve the issue." Doug says:
What exactly does "resolve the issue" mean? Do the editors want Abercrombie to pressure the Army to accede to the plaintiffs and honor the injunction until a supplemental EIS is complete, or do the editors want Abercrombie to advance a legislative exemption to put the Hawaii-based Stryker Brigade (and all the concomitant defense spending) back on track? I reckon Abercrombie stands to receive substantially more campaign contributions from the contractors waiting to perform the Stryker Brigade work than from the Native Hawaiian plaintiffs and like-minded folks. I would expect the "pressure" to follow the money. If a legislative workaround is what the editors want, then they should make that clear.

Posted: Tue - November 21, 2006 at 11:26 AM    
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Published On: Nov 24, 2006 02:23 PM
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