Today, the Pentagon released its report on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It comes in at 267 pages. I haven’t read it, but Bruce Kesler has. He summarizes the report here.
Also today, Defense Secretary Gates was on Capitol Hill urging Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before the end of the year in order to avoid having the courts repeal it first. Gates warned that judicial repeal would be “confusing and distracting” and “hazardous to military morale.”
But the judicial battle is far from over. I hope Gates has more fortitude when it comes to fighting America’s enemies than he does in taking on activitst federal district court judges.
Gates has an excuse, though. The opponent when it comes to the judicial battle over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” isn’t just an activist judiciary; it’s also the White House. As Ed Whelan has shown (his latest post is here), the Obama Justice Department refuses vigorously to defend the policy. Indeed, says Ed, it has opted not to make arguments that have a good chance of succeeding.
Why? Because, according to Tony West, head of DOJ’s Civil Division, the arguments do not comport with the administration’s values. And to help keep administration values pure, the Justice Department reportedly uses its liaison to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to make sure that government briefs don’t advance arguments they find offensive.
Thus, the administration is deliberately increasing the likelihood that Gates’ fear will be realized — DADT will be abolished by judicial fiat, and a “confusing, distracting, and hazardous” scenario will ensue. Congress should not permit itself to be rolled by a combination of activist district court judges, the Obama administration, and (to the extent it is giving the administration some of its cues) the gay rights community.
Speaking of fighting the enemy, the Penagon’s report shows that repeal of DADT — whether by Congress or the judiciary — will likely cause serious difficulties for those who do that fighting directly. Nearly half of soldiers in combat units fear that repeal would affect their combat readiness. Nearly 60 percent of Marines in combat units share this view.
In a serious country, these findings would end meaningful discussion about an across-the-board repeal of DADT. If Congress wants to end the policy for, say, translators of Arabic (the example often cited by proponents of repeal), I say fine. But to tamper with the units that are doing the real fighting (in which gays are permitted to serve under current policy) strikes me as criminally reckless, especially in a time of war.
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