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Posted at 1:49 PM ET, 12/ 2/2010

The military leadership's challenge to GOP Senators

By Greg Sargent

It's important that we be 100 percent clear on what happened at this morning's Senate hearings on Don't Ask Don't Tell. Military leaders essentially pleaded with GOP Senators to support repealing DADT, arguing that the failure to do so would put the state of our military at serious risk.

Remarkably, despite this clear plea, many Republican Senators still appear unwilling to allow the military leadership's request to do what they believe is right by our military to be a serious factor in their thinking.

In his testimony this morning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates put this as clearly as you could ask for. He noted that the courts are getting more involved in DADT, and said he worried that if the courts abruptly overturn the policy, it could leave the military leadership utterly incapable of responding without harming the armed forces.

"We would have zero time to prepare," Gates said. "No time to train. No time to prepare. That is the worst imaginable outcome as far as I'm concerned, and has very high risk to the force." By contrast, Gates said, if Congress repeals DADT, it would afford him more control over the timetable, allowing him to monitor the impact of repealing the policy and to adjust accordingly.

That's not all. Along these lines, there was also an exchange with Senator Scott Brown, who is considered a potential vote for repeal, that stood out.

Brown asked Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon official who wrote the report on DADT repeal, if he thought it could be potentially harmful if the courts, rather than Congress, overturned DADT. Johnson cited an October court decision that called for immediate repeal that has since been reversed.

"In terms of timing, we are in a very unpredictable environment," he said. "We got a taste of that in October, where all of a sudden we had a court order that required the Secretary of Defense to shut down this policy worldwide." Johnson reiterated Gates' point from above, adding that this had caught military leaders completely off guard.

The bottom line message from these military leaders to GOP Senators couldn't be clearer: Please repeal this policy, so we can carry out repeal in a judicious, careful way, before the courts force us to do it in a rushed and haphazard manner, potentially harming our military.

Obviously, the civilian leadership is 100 percent responsible for making policy decisions such as these. Senators are right to subject the claims of military leaders to serious skepticism and scrutiny, and they should be regarded as purely advisory.

But what's striking is that their views on the matter don't seem to be much of a factor in the thinking of many GOP Senators. Indeed, none of them at the hearing even contested what these military leaders said about courts and the various timetables at play. Yet these Senators still appear adamantly opposed to repeal.

Thankfully, the testimony of these military leaders today has given moderate GOP Senators who are willing to entertain repeal -- such as Scott Brown, who seemed to be giving serious consideration to what he heard -- the perfect cover to do so. Now they can say: "After careful consideration, I've decided that we should honor the request of our military leaders, who have asked us to repeal DADT so they can have control over the process -- for the good of our military."

I don't know if these moderates will avail themselves of this opportunity. But it's there for the seizing.

By Greg Sargent  | December 2, 2010; 1:49 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security, gay rights  
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Comments

So, if Congress refuses to pass DADT repeal, naturally you would oppose a Supreme Court decision overturning it, because "if the courts abruptly overturn the policy, it could leave the military leadership utterly incapable of responding without harming the armed forces."

Posted by: ath17 | December 2, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

If it isn't an opportunity to damage Obama, it means nothing to the Republicans.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 2, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

ath17, that's an utterly trivial and meaningless argument. Obviously, Gates is arguing that this is bound to happen anyway, so it would be better for the military if Congress gave him more control over the process.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | December 2, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

"Scott Brown, who seemed to be giving serious consideration to what he heard"

This is low-hanging fruit (so to speak) for Brown. He has all kinds of military cover and he needs an aye vote to remain viable in MA. The only question is whether Brown is so beholden to McCain that he follows the Nasty Old Man off the cliff. I doubt it: Brown didn't get to be naked in Cosmo by being a dope. Or something like that.

Posted by: wbgonne | December 2, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Repeal of DADT is of no importance to anyone except hardcore liberals and homosexuals. These groups are desperately trying to get one more shot in before they are routed out.

Repeal of DADT will not help the military in any way and has the potential to do harm. This is another case of liberals trying to fix that which is not broken.

Posted by: battleground51 | December 2, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

If the Pentagon just spent ten months preparing this report then surely they can be prepared if a court rules DADT unconstitutional. The notion that a recent court order halting DADT "had caught military leaders completely off guard" is either preposterous or really scary. We have contingency plans for thousands of military scenarios but none for this? Gimme a break. This is an unseemly threat that reeks of blackmail - and I *support* getting rid of DADT.

Posted by: sbj3 | December 2, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Country First!!!!!!!!!*

* Except if you're a Republican

Posted by: Ethan2010 | December 2, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

John McCain’s credibility on military issues is apparently based on his military service. However, if you really look at his record, it comes across that he was a big screw-up in the military. He graduated from the Naval Academy nearly last in his class, he lost several aircraft, at least one of which he crashed, en route to his crowning achievement, nearly six years as a prisoner of war.

Now I don’t intend to disparage his record as a POW, it was honorable and heroic, but that doesn’t make him anything close to an expert on the military.

He has exhibited over and over his lack of ability to make good decision, and in many cases, to make decisions at all. He waffles, in a self-serving way, from one side to the other in so many areas and his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate was an unmitigated disaster, simply because it was a typical McCain shot from the hip.

While I suspect the Senate Republicans will follow McCain’s lead as political cover, their position against repeal of DNDT is short on substance and at odds with a large majority of the military and the American people.

Posted by: bwynhasn | December 2, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The liberals are mischaracterizing the Don't As report


No one is pleading with anyone

What is important to realize is the SPECIAL INTERESTS have FORCED the military brass to make these statements - it is extremely doubtful that ANY of them would have made these statement of their own free will - if they were not concerned with promotions


If it is indeed the case that the Obama people have made positive statements on repeal of Dont Ask AN IMPLIED CONDITION FOR MILITARY PROMOTION, then no one can place any credibility in any of these statements


__________________________


Look at Pelosi's people pushing through a vote today - even when Obama is negotiating


WHERE IS THE GOOD FAITH ???


The democrats are WORTHLESS

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 2, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Gates has become a pawn of Obama - nothing he said can be viewed as impartial


"We would have zero time to prepare," Gates said.


This is a lie - in the event of a Court decision (which is highly unlikely from the Supreme Court) the Pentagon could ask for a stay, and an implementation schedule.


This is a boldface lie - just like all the other liberal proposals - they want to RUSH everyone to agree - dont think about it, just agree because there is a rush.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 2, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"In terms of timing, we are in a very unpredictable environment," he said. "We got a taste of that in October, where all of a sudden we had a court order that required the Secretary of Defense to shut down this policy worldwide."


____________________________

The Obama people are really SPINNING the influence of one closeted gay Judge


A closeted gay Judge should NOT be ruling on this case - he should have recused himself.


IN fact, the closeted Judge who made that ruling should be REMOVED FROM OFFICE for not recusing himself in this case.


The arguments that the military would have no time are ILLOGICAL AND MAKE NO SENSE.


Today's hearing was a complete joke

Just ANOTHER PROOF that the democrats are unfit to govern


Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, Pelosi is wasting everyone's time and money with a vote which will go nowhere -


Is that good government or just partisan garbage?

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 2, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised McCain hasn't slipped up and called gay people a bunch of homo's tbh. Same goes for Inhofe. I'm sure he was biting his tongue every time he opened his uninformed mouth.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | December 2, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

i want to RUSH everyone to agree - dont think about it, just agree because there is a rush.

Rush? Hasn't this policy been in place since 1993?

Because someone happens to agree with Obama they lie?

Gates is just recognizing the obvious; the policy will be overturned. The question is how to you want it done? The military way or the court way?

Posted by: Alex3 | December 2, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

All the House democrats are doing today is playing politics on the House floor


That is exactly what the American People do not want.


The democrats are unfit to govern - the liberals are even worse.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 2, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Alex3 | December 2, 2010 2:37 PM


The policy in place from 1993 IS the compromise

It is that simple Dont Ask is the compromise


Obama, who campaigned on compromise, wants to go BACK on this compromise


It is unbelievable - perhaps the gays should just accept Dont' Ask - and just dont Tell


This whole thing has gotten so ridiculous


The report doesnt say what the media said it said, by the way

58% of Marines said NO -


Was that the headline yesterday?

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 2, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Alex is exactly right. DADT is going down, and it's only a question of how much control the military has over the timing of the change. From the posts to this thread, I'm glad to see that there are very few dead enders left. The only argument left to the dead enders is "no one cares about it".

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | December 2, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

@battleground51: DADT violates the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution. Thus, it is indeed "broken."

@RainForestRising: The judge in the California DADT case referenced in this article is a woman, not a man, and she's not a closeted homosexual.

Posted by: brimadison | December 2, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

But if Scott Brown votes for repeal it would give his famous constitutent Rachel Maddow a victory. Can't have that, now can we?

Posted by: Mimikatz | December 2, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

What happened to the original 12BarBlues?
You are her, right?

Posted by: shrink2 | December 2, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

"Military leaders" consist of more than in-the-bag-for-President-Obama Secretary Gates and CNO Mike Mullen. (And I have no idea what motivates him. I know military people who have known him since his Naval Academy days, and he has done a 180 on this issue.) Most of the rest of the "military leaders", including---significantly---the leaders of actual combat troops, think openly homosexual military members in their units will adversely affect unit cohesion and combat effectiveness. So the question ought to be does the Obama Administration want to win the War on Terror or play politically-correct social engineering games with the military services? Sadly, the answer is obvious.

Posted by: dkaag | December 2, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

All, my defense of the White House on the Bush tax cuts:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/12/in_defense_of_white_house_on_b.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | December 2, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

What happened to the original 12BarBlues?

------------------------
It's me. Somehow my original 12BarBlues disappeared.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | December 2, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse


All four service chiefs are opposed to repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. So is Gen. Carter F. Ham who is one of the two authors of the report. I say again: EVEN THE AUTHOR OF THE REPORT OPPOSES REPEAL.

"I think that the current policy works... [M]y best military advice to this committee, to the secretary and to the president would be to keep the law such as it is."

- Gen. James Conway, Marine Commandant (ret.)


"I do have serious concerns about the impact of repeal of the law on a force that's fully engaged in two wars and has been at war for eight-and-a-half years. We just don't know the impacts on readiness and military effectiveness."

- Gen. George Casey, Army Chief Of Staff


"[My] strong conviction [is that] this is not the time to perturb the force, [which] is, at the moment, stretched by demands in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere without careful deliberation."

- Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff

"In my personal view, the current law and associated policy have supported the unique requirements of the Marine Corps, and thus I do not recommend its repeal. My primary concern with proposed repeal is the potential disruption to cohesion that may be caused by significant change during a period of extended combat operations. "

- Gen. James F. Amos, Marine Commandant

Posted by: screwjob22 | December 2, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Despite dkaag trying to change the question, the American people and the military have spoken: no problem with openly gay troops. Those with common sense already knew this, and now everyone knows the issue is settled in the court of public opinion.

Of course, there will always be a few dead enders who don't want anything to change. But they are few.

Now, the only question is: is the military going to stand still and let the courts force the timing? Or is the military going to take charge of its own timing? Naturally, they want to take control of the timing. All of this is just common sense.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | December 2, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

@battleground51 wrote:
"Repeal of DADT will not help the military in any way"
.
Except perhaps for the arabic linguists we've drummed out of the service because of their sexual orientation? That has directly *hurt* the military's ability to respond to our current threats.

Posted by: rpixley220 | December 2, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"...win the War on Terror..."

Yeah, right after we win the war on drugs.
Sheesh, what a dunce.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 2, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

John McCain has just as much credibility on DADT in 2010 as he had on the economy in 2008.

"The economy is strong."
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Posted by: HughBriss | December 2, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

HughB, don't do that, it isn't funny.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 2, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Some years ago, via a discussion board like this one, I became friends with a Republican ex Navy guy. He had captained a carrier in the Pacific before retiring. At that time, I defended McCain while this fellow (who knew McCain personally) had little regard for him, an opinion he said was not uncommon in the upper ranks of the Navy.

I don't defend McCain any longer. He's a liar, unprincipled and a bigot.

Posted by: bernielatham | December 2, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Note that the republicans can vote against DADT, when it is voted on, and have all the cover they need. But they won't even let it, AND THE MILITARY BUDGET IT IS ATTACHED TO come up for a vote.

They not only know that repeal of DADT is inevitable, they know that their filibuster only hurts the military budget.

But it would be a success for Obama.

Can't let that happen.

Posted by: ceflynline | December 2, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

McCain is such a great supporter of the Military that he actually acknowledged that the current GI bill was right and something the Military really ought to get, as he explained that we couldn't afford it and voted against it.

Posted by: ceflynline | December 2, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I remember that (!).

cef, McCain does not deserve your mind.

Posted by: shrink2 | December 2, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

McCain is pathetic. Obviously he knows the Hate & Fear card is important in keeping his base of older republican men with him. Harry Truman ended racial discrimination in the armed services by an executive order, simply because he knew it was the right thing to do. How great it would be if Obama would do the same thing with DADT. Even when congress eventually passes DADT, there will be endless foot-dragging before it is actually implemented.

Posted by: kathok | December 3, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I think the obvious is beginning to show itself here and in a variety of military issues that the Republicans would normally support at the request of the Pentagon.

The Republicans have successfully destroyed Obama's credibility with the independent voters by calling him an extreme leftist. Now they are going to destroy Obama with his progressive base.

It is clear that the Republicans especially John McCain are out to destroy Obama and any success that he may muster. It is a pity that they would opt to harm our country out of pure partisanship in completing their mission to eviscerate our president.

Posted by: dvdpiano | December 3, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"At today's hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which McCain is ranking member, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said they were split on whether DADT should be repealed, but all reported that their forces would be willing and able to implement repeal if so directed by Congress."

That is from the Muckraker, who is out for McCain's head as much as you are, but quite honestly, a little more accurate than your:

"Military leaders essentially pleaded with GOP Senators to support repealing DADT, arguing that the failure to do so would put the state of our military at serious risk."

AHEM. Not quite the way you paint it, and from only cursory scanning of the testimony, it is far from monolitically behind Gates, and even much less so than I would have expected if they only have "mild" reservations.

The key phrase is this:

"...all reported that their forces would be willing and able to implement repeal if so directed by Congress."

Essentially this is saying that they would uphold their oath as best they could. I served for 33 years. From good soldiers, this is what I would expect. Not all soldiers will do well, and I have concerns about those who would *want* to join, if this goes Out of Control, which I think Gates is powerless to provide, despite what he says. Some will join *not* to serve anyone except their own twisted agenda. Those will cause problems out of all proportion to their numbers. In other countries, they are not as free to be radical as they are here. That radical attitude is what will cause all the problems. Mark my words on this!

;'{P~~~

Posted by: Clearbrook | December 3, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

All four service chiefs are opposed to repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. So is Gen. Carter F. Ham who is one of the two authors of the report. I say again: EVEN THE AUTHOR OF THE REPORT OPPOSES REPEAL.

That is what screwjob22 posted above, and he has the quotes from the actual report to back it up. Thanks @ screwjob22!

So if you see their testimony as supporting the repeal of DADT, in which case are they lying? (I didn't see it as being as supportive as you say: I saw philosophical support sometimes and pragmatic opposition most of the time)

So spin away and I'll stick pins in your balloons. They pop pretty easy, sometimes. You really don't have to make it easy...

;'{P~~~

Posted by: Clearbrook | December 3, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

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