There’s an effort underway at the Pentagon to “delay” the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell until the middle of the presidential elections. The Pentagon push back on repeal is coming from the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and it was leaked to Anne Gearan at the Associated Press:
Lawyers for the senior U.S. military officer are recommending a delay of at least a year in beginning the process to repeal the ban on openly gay military service, which could push a decision by Congress to the middle of the next presidential election.
Other advisers at the Pentagon, however, argue that lifting the ban would not cause unmanageable problems or divisions among the uniformed military, according to two U.S. officials. They discussed internal conversations about the ban on condition of anonymity.
“Now is not the time,” the in-house legal counsel for Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote recently in a memorandum obtained by The Associated Press. “The importance of winning the wars we are in, along with the stress on the force, our body of knowledge and the number of unknowns demand that we act with deliberation.”
The importance of winning the wars? And that won’t be an issue next year? The stress on the force? You mean there will be more stress on the force if we provide them with more men and women, with more Arabic translators? There will be more stress if we stop the anti-gay witch hunts and focus on the mission? The forces are already so stressed, because we don’t have enough troops, that the Army is forcing women to put their children in foster care. But no, God forbid we let the gay troops take up the slack.
And the last part — “our body of knowledge and the number of unknowns”? What? The body of knowledge points towards lifting the ban. Study after study shows that we can handle it. Countries around the world, including our NATO allies, have lifted their bans without a glitch. What body of knowledge is the Chairman’s office talking about, and what “unknown demands” are they talking about? This reads like a political document, not a strategic one. And certainly not a legal one. What is the “legal” counsel to Mullen doing weighing in on the effectiveness of DADT repeal? What, his Harvard degree in torts makes him an expert on unit cohesion now? No, but it certainly makes him pretty adroit at undermining his Commander-in-Chief.
This is when the Commander-in-Chief needs to step up to say “Now is the time.” Pentagon lawyers don’t make the call, President Obama does. And, he promised — repeatedly. The military ran circles around Bill Clinton, and he let them. President Obama can’t afford to make the same mistake again.
Coincidentally — not — the memo was leaked less than 24 hours after we were finally seeing some movement on DADT repeal in the Senate. This is a purely political move by the Pentagon brass to undercut the Commander-in-Chief and stop the repeal of DADT.
This matters. There are many members of Congress who will heed the advice of the Pentagon. The message from the Pentagon leaders has to be: Repeal the law now. It’s amazing, astounding really, that the Pentagon — the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs — is leaking documents in order to undercut their boss, the Commander-in-Chief, our president, during a time of war. I can’t imagine anything better to undercut unit cohesion and undermine our military effectiveness than outright insubordination against our commander.
If the repeal gets pushed back a year, it won’t happen for a long time, if ever. And that is likely why Mullen’s office leaked the document in the first place.
The military would have never tried this against Rumsfeld and Bush.