A FEW GOOD MEN: Powell Adds His Voice To The Choir Of Pentagon Brass Calling For Repeal Of DADT


gaysoldier-777221.thumbnail.jpgNEW YORK TIMES:  Gen. Colin L. Powell, who as the nation’s top military officer in the 1990s opposed allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military, switched gears today and threw his support behind efforts to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law he helped shepherd in. “In the almost 17 years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,” General Powell said in a statement issued by his office. He added: “I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.” Robert M. Gates, the defense secretary, and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers on Tuesday that they supported President Obama’s proposal to repeal the 1993 law forbidding gay men and lesbians to be open about their sexuality while serving in uniform. Admiral Mullen was the first Joint Chiefs chairman ever to take that position, signaling the evolution in attitudes both inside the military and in the broader society since the debate under President Bill Clinton. MORE

gaysoldier-777221.thumbnail.jpgBALTIMORE SUN: Those who back the current law argue that letting gays serve openly would damage morale and unit cohesion. But other countries that have allowed gays to serve openly in their armed forces found that integrating gays into combat units does not harm their military effectiveness. America’s armed forces have gone through these arguments before, notably over the question of whether African-Americans should be eligible for miliary service. At the beginning of the Civil War, blacks were barred from participating in combat operations on the Union side, but as losses mounted, the federal government was forced to enlist more than 200,000 black servicemen. Similar resistance to black troops was heard during both world wars, but in both cases the military found black troops not only were vital but that the presence of black units like the famed Tuskegee Airmen, who flew fighter escort missions on bombing raids over Europe, increased group morale. That history makes the controversy over allowing gays to serve in the military seem like a bizarre anachronism at a time when the acceptance of gay civil rights has moved to the point where the nation is debating whether gays should be able to marry, not just whether they should hold any job they want. MORE

william_kristol092307_lrg.jpgTHE ECONOMIST: I’M NOT sure why I continue to read Bill Kristol’s work. He seems to get most things wrong, but I have a perverse fascination with his logic, largely because it is so unsound. So today I found myself picking through Mr Kristol’s latest Weekly Standard editorial, in which he makes the case for maintaining the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy that allows gays to serve in America’s military only if they keep their sexual preference under wraps. Mr Kristol’s argument is familiar. It rests on the notion that some soldiers are homophobic and, therefore, any change to the policy might negatively affect morale. Yet he presents little evidence to back up his claim. Because I am startled by his blatant, unsupported, anachronistic bigotry, I thought I might amuse myself by offering up Mr Kristol’s article in full, peppered with pointed interjections from myself. MORE

gaysoldier-777221.thumbnail.jpgLOS ANGELES TIMES: For starters, two-thirds of military members already know or suspect that there are gays in their units, so the policy has failed to achieve even its most basic goal: to protect morale and cohesion by shielding straight troops from knowledge of gay troops. The policy has also failed to preserve desperately needed skilled personnel. Since the law’s inception, roughly 13,500 gay, lesbian and bisexual service members have been discharged. According to the Government Accountability Office, nearly 800 of them had “critical skills,” including more than 60 Arabic speakers. In the meantime, the military has granted an increasing number of “moral waivers” to ex-convicts and drug abusers to fill slots in a force stretched thin by two wars.  According to the military’s own studies, the policy (not the presence of gays) is undermining trust and integrity in the force by mandating dishonesty, a point reiterated Tuesday by Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and by my own research, in which I spoke with hundreds of gay and straight troops who confirmed that finding. Finally, according to analyses by the Williams Institute at UCLA, every year tens of millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted on enforcing this policy and training replacements for fired soldiers. MORE


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