The Washington Post pre-spins the Pentagon’s study of the impact of ending “don’t ask, don’t tell”

A headline in today’s Washington Post says “Report: Little risk to lifting gay ban.” The report in question is by a Pentagon study group that has evaluated the impact of revising the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy. The headline is misleading in my view, since under that policy gays are not banned from serving in the military.
The headline is also dubious because the Post hasn’t seen the report. Its story is based on leaks from “two people familiar with a draft of the report.” According to the Post, one of the sources said he “felt compelled to share the information [in the report] out of concern that groups opposed to ending the ban would mischaracterize the finding.” Why the Post made itself the vehicle for these sources getting their characterization out first, and with a headline the Post cannot vouch for, is not clear. I think we can make an educated guess, though.
The findings will speak for themselves. And one finding, buried deep in the Post’s story, speaks volumes, at least to me. Apparently, “about 40 percent of the Marine Corps is concerned about lifting the ban.” As noted here, the Marine Corp is exempt from the Defense Department’s rule that troops are to have private living quarters except during basic training and at officer candidate schools. The Marines put two people in every room to promote a sense of unity.
In a better world, the concerns of 40 percent of the Marine Corps would be sufficient reason to retain “don’t ask, don’t tell” at least for Marines (remember, gays can and do serve in the military, including the Marines, under present policy). I’m not sure it would ever be a good idea to roil the Marine Corps to this extent. In any event, I agree with Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos that it is not a good idea now, when Marines are fighting in two major theatres.


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