Alabama AG calls for investigation into Biden’s reversal on Space Command HQ
FIRST ON FOX: Alabama’s attorney general is calling for an investigation into President Biden reversing his decision to put Space Command headquarters in Huntsville.
Fox News Digital obtained Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s letter to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Director of Defense Capabilities and Management Elizabeth Field and Department of Defense (DOD) Assistant Inspector General (IG) Randolph Stone with regard to Biden’s ‘sudden reversal’ of placing Space Command headquarters in Colorado.
‘On January 13, 2021, after a thorough vetting process that spanned almost two years, the Secretary of the Air Force selected Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred location for Space Command’s headquarters,’ Marshall wrote.
‘According to the announcement, the Air Force evaluated six possible headquarters locations ‘based on factors related to mission, infrastructure capacity, community support and costs to the Department of Defense,’’ he continued, noting that the ‘factors strongly favored Huntsville.’
Marshall wrote that multiple ‘independent reviews’ by the two offices ‘confirmed the Air Force’s decision that Huntsville was the best location for Space Command’s headquarters’ and that the DOD IG’s ’20-person team’ found the Air Force’s selection process was lawful.
The Alabama attorney general also said the GAO ‘similarly reported that Huntsville was clearly the preferred headquarters location’ for Space Command.
‘After its investigation, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the selection of Huntsville ‘was consistent with the Air Force’s analysis,’’ Marshall wrote. ‘The Huntsville headquarters should have cleared its final hurdle when the Air Force determined last year that the site ‘will not have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment.”
‘Yet on July 31, 2023, government officials reported that President Biden had reversed the decision to locate Space Command’s headquarters in Huntsville and instead selected a location in Colorado. News reports credited General James Dickinson with convincing Biden to choose Colorado,’ he continued, citing Associated Press reporting of the southern snub.
Marshall wrote that Dickinson’s ‘role understandably surprised Alabama officials’ weeks after the U.S. Space Command commander ‘confirmed to Alabama’s congressional delegation that ‘the headquarters of U.S. Space Command belongs on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.’’
‘Newly uncovered Colorado property records reveal that General Dickinson had at least 1.5 million reasons to recommend Colorado over Huntsville for the permanent U.S. Space Command headquarters,’ Marshall wrote.
‘In April 2023, General Dickinson registered a deed to a $1.5 million, 20-acre ranch near the Colorado headquarters location,’ the Alabama attorney general continued. ‘When he was assuring them that ‘he couldn’t envision any circumstance where he wouldn’t recommend Huntsville,’ General Dickinson did not disclose his Colorado purchase to Alabama officials.’
‘It is unknown whether General Dickinson disclosed his personal interests in the Colorado site to President Biden or any other superiors,’ Marshall added.
Marshall alleged that Dickinson’s ‘personal interests may explain why the Secretary of the Air Force announced in May that General Dickinson ‘had recently changed his needs for a headquarters and that the ‘fundamental changes’ could affect the basing decision.’’
The Alabama AG also noted the GAO found that ‘the Huntsville location was the highest scoring location at every stage of the decision-making process.’
‘It is unknown how General Dickinson’s ‘fundamental changes’ affected the scoring process or how much taxpayer money was spent to implement these changes during the decision-making process,’ Marshall wrote.
Marshall alleged that other ‘improper factors may have influenced the decision as well’ and that multiple ‘government officials reported that the White House would not move Space Command’s headquarters to Alabama because of partisan concerns about the state’s abortion law.’
‘The White House denied that claim but did not provide any evidence to substantiate the denial,’ Marshall wrote, adding that transparency ‘is needed to understand these issues and any others that were part of the effort to reverse the decision to locate Space Command’s headquarters to Huntsville, Alabama.’
‘I respectfully request that your offices investigate the process to select the Colorado location with at least as much thoroughness as you did with the initial selection of the Huntsville location,’ Marshall concluded the letter.
Space Command IG Letter AL … by Houston Keene
A DOD IG spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the letter ‘hasn’t come through official channels’ and they ‘aren’t in receipt of the letter.’
Field told Fox News Digital that ‘GAO’s review assessed the process that the Air Force used from December 2018 to March 2020 to select the preferred location for U.S. Space Command headquarters, as well as the revised selection process that the Air Force used from March 2020 to January 2021.’
‘As stated in our June 2022 report, while the January 2021 selection of Redstone Arsenal as the preferred location for U.S. Space Command headquarters was consistent with the Air Force’s analysis, our assessment of the Air Force’s revised selection process and attendant analysis against best practices identified significant shortfalls in its transparency and credibility,’ Field said.
‘At this time, GAO does not have any new work regarding U.S. Space Command headquarters,’ she continued. ‘Per our congressional protocols, GAO’s work is generally conducted at the request of congressional committees, subcommittees, or members or is statutorily required by public laws or committee reports.’
Last month, Biden informed the Department of Defense that the U.S. Space Command headquarters will remain in Colorado, rejecting a push by former President Donald Trump to move operations to Alabama.
Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said Biden had consulted with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and senior military leaders before deciding that Colorado Springs, Colorado, will remain as the permanent location of the U.S. Space Command headquarters.
Having the U.S. Space Command’s headquarters remain in Colorado Springs, Ryder said, will ensure that the U.S. maintains ‘peak readiness in the space domain … during a critical period.’
‘It will also enable the command to most effectively plan, execute and integrate military spacepower into multi-domain global operations in order to deter aggression and defend national interests,’ he said.
Senior U.S. officials told the Associated Press that Dickinson convinced the president that moving his headquarters would jeopardize military readiness. Dickinson’s view, however, was in contrast to Air Force leadership, which studied the issue at length and determined that relocating to Huntsville, Alabama, was the right move.
The president, they said, believes that keeping the command in Colorado Springs would avoid a disruption in readiness that the move would cause, particularly as the U.S. races to compete with China in space. And they said Biden firmly believes that maintaining stability will help the military be better able to respond in space over the next decade. Those factors, they said, outweighed what the president believed would be any minor benefits of moving to Alabama.
Fox News Digital’s Bradford Betz and Liz Friden contributed reporting.