February 14, 2010
Don't ask when DADT will be gone
Posted by: Chris
Why is it that every time it seems the momentum is growing to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, some poorly sourced news article appears predicting the process of repeal will take longer and longer to accomplish?
The last few days brought news that:
- An updated survey of Military Times readers, mostly veterans historically hostile toward open service by gays, showed an even split on the question.
- New polling showed fully three-fourths of Americans generally favor repeal of DADT, including a majority of Republicans and conservatives.
- Lt. Dan Choi, whose outspoken and passionate advocacy as a gay Army reservist has made him the face of DADT repeal efforts, was invited to participate in drills with his unit even though he has been facing discharge over the policy.
- Moderate senators on the Armed Services Committee threw their support behind the review of the policy announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
- Former Vice President Dick Cheney, the voice of GOP conservatives on issues of national security, came out in favor of the review as well, and signaled that the time has come to end the ban:
"When the chiefs come forward and say, ‘We think we can do it,’ then it strikes me as it’s time to reconsider the policy, and I think Admiral Mullen said that,” Cheney said during an interview on ABC’s “This Week.”
Cheney said the U.S. military supported “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 1993 when the law banning open service was put in place, but said “things have changed, significantly, since then” and predicted the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as it currently stands.
“I see that … Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint of Chiefs of Staff, has indicated he is belief that we ought to support change in the policy, so I think that — my guess is the policy will be changed,” Cheney said.
When Karl pressed Cheney further on whether he personally supports repeal, Cheney said said “it’s partly a generational issue” and he’s “reluctant to second guess the military” because “they’re the ones that have got to make the judgment on how these policies affect the military capability of our units.”
And yes despite all these positive developments, an AP story by Anne Flaherty in today's New York Times predicted "a complete repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy is probably years away":
The two officials appointed to lead a yearlong internal assessment -- Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, and Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson -- met for the first time on Feb. 9.
As that study gets under way, officials were expected by mid-March to suggest ways to relax enforcement of the law. Of particular interest is minimizing cases of ''third party outings,'' where a service member is kicked out after being reported by others to be gay.
The protracted time line is about more than giving military leaders time to assess the impact on troops and put new rules in place. The multiyear process also is a strategic way of getting troops used to the idea before they have to accept change. Politically, the time line puts off congressional debate over lifting the ban until after elections this fall.
The entire story is sourced to unnamed "senior defense and military officials," and fails to abide by a New York Times policy that requires at a minimum that such anonymous sources explain why they will not talk on the record.
Shoddy journalism aside, the article suggests shoddy activism as well. The Human Rights Campaign website shows no public statements or pushes on DADT since Feb. 5, further contributing to a sense that our "inside the Beltway" gay groups are as out of the loop on the process for DADT repeal than they were on pressuring the president and Congress to raise the issue last month.
At issue at this point is not whether Don't Ask Don't Tell will be repealed, but when. Now is the time for HRC and the other D.C. gay groups to shine.
The entire argument in favor of having a well-resourced organization of inside lobbyists like HRC, and in particular well-paid leaders like Joe Solmonese and David Smith is that they know how to massage the process and leverage our efforts to win our equality sooner than we would otherwise.
Will they mobilize the gay community and our progressive allies to prevent the Pentagon review to delay the legislative process toward repeal? Will they, at a minimum, succeed in making a moratorium on DADT discharges -- all discharges, not just so-called "third party complaints" -- an amendment to the Defense Department budget bill?
Or what will it take for the millionaire activists of Gay Rights, Inc., to earn the salary or be replaced?
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