Eye Opener: 'Don't ask, don't tell' back in the news
Updated 7:26 a.m. ET
Happy Monday! (Unless you're Canadian.) We should know what most of the military's top leadership thinks of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy by the end of the week as the service chiefs are scheduled to appear before the House and Senate armed services committees and are expected to face questions about possibly repealing the ban.
Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates last month expressed personal support for ending the policy. Gates also appointed Army Gen. Carter Ham and Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson to lead a team that will review current policy by the end of March and then turn its attention to polling service members and their families about a possible repeal.
Lawmakers will conduct their own polling of top brass during hearings that begin tomorrow. Army Secretary John M. McHugh and Gen. George W. Casey Jr. are slated to appear before the Senate panel while Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz are scheduled to meet with House lawmakers. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Adm. Gary Roughead and Marine Commandant Gen. James T. Conway will testify before the House panel on Wednesday and senators on Thursday. McHugh and Casey visit the House side of Capitol Hill on Thursday. (The Federal Eye plans to track this week's testimony.)
Conway's testimony could prove most interesting since he is said to oppose lifting the ban, according to the Associated Press, which also noted that the House committee plans to bring the leadership back for separate hearings about repealing the policy.
On Sunday Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, seemed to signal his personal support for a repeal by saying he doesn't think most rank and file service members care if they serve with gay men or lesbians.
"I'm not sure that they do," he told NBC's "Meet the Press."
"I think it is hugely important that we have the answers from the questions that [Ham and Johnson will] be asking in a very methodical way, something we've not done before because of the emotion and the sensitivity of this issue," Petraeus said on Sunday.
Also this week: Expect Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) to introduce a bill to repeal "don't ask, don't tell."
"When you artificially limit the pool of people who can enlist then you are diminishing military effectiveness," Lieberman said in an interview with the New York Daily News published this morning. He was reportedly asked by the White House and liberal groups to introduce the bill.
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• Cabinet and Staff News: President Obama and Vice President Biden meet on Monday with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in the Oval Office. Secs. Timothy Geithner, Ray LaHood and Ken Salazar among those in attendance at Sunday night's White House Governor's Ball. Geithner and IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman will travel to Austin on Monday to meet with IRS employees that worked in the building hit by a small plane last Thursday. They will hold a private town hall meeting with employees and tour the crash site. The Post's Dana Milbank says Obama should keep Rahm Emanuel. Sam D. Hamilton, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, dies unexpectedly. Former four star general, White House chief of staff, secretary of state and presidential candidate Alexander Haig dies at age 85. Pay Czar... er... Special Master Ken Feinberg explains his job. The U.S. ambassador to Doha and the Turkish ambassador there fought last week over a meeting that ran long. The Justice Department's narcotics chief switches sections. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is removing roughly $5 billion of his personal fortune from a private-equity firm founded by Steven Rattner, the Obama administration's former car czar.
• A base for war training, and species preservation: Even as it conducts round-the-clock exercises to support two wars, Fort Stewart in Georgia spends as much as $3 million a year on wildlife management, diligently grooming its 279,000 acres to accommodate five endangered species that live here.
• Two U.S. helicopter pilots killed in Iraq: The military said in a statement that there were no "enemy forces" present and no hostile fire reported.
• New Air Force program aims to groom civilian executives: The command-equivalent positions will be open to eligible GS-14 and GS-15 grade employees on a competitive basis.
• Obama wants education benchmarks to meet higher standard: He will seek to raise academic standards across the country by requiring states to certify that their benchmarks for reading and mathematics put students on track for college or a career.
• Wide variance in products that qualify for federal Energy Star program: Government data show that the federal Energy Star program, whose familiar logo adorns products from light bulbs to furnaces, can work a bit like Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon, Minn., where every child is above average.
• EPA unveils Great Lakes restoration plan: Crafted by 16 federal agencies, the five-year, $475-million proposal seeks to heal the ecosystem from "abuse" by cleaning up water and beaches, among other initiatives.
• FAA, Los Angeles clash over airport: The latest push to cut the risk of planes colliding on the ground at the airport appears headed for the scrap heap, after turbulence from local politicians and neighborhood groups.
• FBI queries webcam use by schools: The agency will look into whether any federal wiretap or computer-intrusion laws were violated by Lower Merion School District, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
• Allan Kornblum, counsel to FBI, is dead at 71: He helped steer the agency into the post-J. Edgar Hoover era by drafting guidelines for its surveillance operations in the 1970s.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE:
• Joe Stack plane crash: Why did he hate IRS enough to kill?: The anti "tax man" fuse may have been lit in 1986, when the software engineer confronted a change in tax law, that required companies using high-tech contractors to withhold part of their salaries for income tax purposes.
• Decision on terror memos sparks legal debate: A decision to reject sanctions against Bush-era lawyers who approved harsh treatment of terrorism suspects provoked a heated exchange among legal experts Saturday over whether the lawyers' actions had constituted unethical conduct or violated professional standards.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS:
• Struggling female war vets: A video report about the lengths some have gone to get a roof over their head.
| February 22, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Eye Opener
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