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  • « Leaving America behind | Main | In the news… »

    November 25, 2006

    'Don't Ask, Don't Mind'

    Posted by: Chris

    Cbs4The U.S. Army has been spread so thin by President Bush's ill-conceived, even more ill-executed war
    in Iraq that now we find ourselves literally unable to commit significant additional forces to the fight without compromising our national security. Democrats join Republicans in shooting down proposals to reinstate the draft as a way to boost troop numbers — and more equitably distribute the war's sacrifice.

    That puts enormous pressure on military recruiters to find a way to enlist anyone still willing to walk into their offices despite the ongoing carnage in Iraq. They're using all sorts of creative ways to meet recruiting goals: raising the age limit from 40 to 42 — great, now I'm eligible to enlist — lowering aptitude test minimums, and issuing "moral waivers" that admit even those with serious criminal records, drug convictions and gang-banging backgrounds.

    Of course there'll be no "moral waivers" for gay recruits. Being gay isn't a bar to military service, but gay recruits are not allowed to "tell" and the recruiters aren't allowed to "ask." But in practice, desperate times call for desperate measures, and many recruiters are apparently willing to overlook a little homosexuality on the way to meeting recruiting goals.

    Cbs41CBS-4 in Denver conducted an undercover investigation that revealed the practice:

    A CBS-4 Investigation into recruiting by the United States Army found recruiters telling potential soldiers that it wasn't a problem if they were gay. The recruiters told people showing interest in being a soldier to keep their homosexuality to themselves.

    Military policy states that if a potential service member discloses that he or she is gay, they are supposed to be immediately disqualified. … CBS4's undercover investigation found more than one Army recruiter who was willing to look the other way when a potential solider said they were homosexual.

    Be sure to check out video of the report to see how the recruiters react to a potential enlistee coming out, laughing about how they'll "forget you said that" and it "won't be a problem."

    The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has always been based on fundamental hypocrisies: that gays can serve but only if straight soldiers don't know who they are; that somehow the privacy of straight soldiers would be compromised if they knew which of their comrades is gay; that gay soldiers are dismissed for "homosexual conduct" for "telling," even if that's all they do.

    Now we learn a whole new layer of hypocrisy: Recruiters will overlook known gay enlistees so long as they keep quiet about being gay after joining up.

    "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" don't work, and even provides straight service members who don't want to serve with an easy way out of the military. No one really believes that all of the 9,500 discharged under the policy since 1993 are actually gay. In fact, the Pentagon has defended increases in discharges in recent years by admitting many are straight soldiers pulling a "Klinger from M*A*S*H" — faking gay to get out. Then there are the desperately-needed Arab linguist specialists discharged under the policy.

    John McCain reaffirmed just last week how happy he is with the policy, but momentum will grow in the new Democratic Congress to revisit it. In a time of war, we don't have a person to waste.

    (Hat tip: Steve Rails, SLDN)

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