Thursday, December 02, 2010

Senate Armed Services Committee holds hearings on CRWG Report to repeal "don't ask don't tell"

Senator Levin opened the Hearings by noting that the report says that lifting “don’t ask don’t tell” is no big deal for most troops. He said that a matter like this should not be offered for referendum, Justas it should not have been with African Americans in 1948. He noted that the repeal would go into effect 60 days after passage, giving Congress one more opportunity for review.

The hearings are carried online on C-SPAN-3; the complete video of the testimonry (over 3 hours) is here.

You can also watch it at the Senate Armed Services Committee website here. You will need Adobe Flash Player 10, which may have to be specifically installed; it worked fine on both XP and Vista.

The definitive document from the CRWG is on the site as a PDF document here.

The speakers today are to be Honorable Robert M. Gates Secretary of Defense Honorable Jeh C. Johnson General Counsel, Department of Defense Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group Admiral Michael G. Mullen, USN , Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff General Carter F. Ham, USA Commander, United States Army Europe Co-Chair, Comprehensive Review Working Group.

John McCain spoke next and said that he is troubled by the act that “only” 28% of troops responded, largely non-combat (e.g. “combat service support”) troops. He admitted that it would be possible to lift the ban eventually. He said we should be wary of attempts to “civilianize” the debate by mixing it with other social issues (as I have done!)

Robert Gates said that we would hear from the combat arms chiefs tomorrow and he respected the unusual demands of unit cohesion of those in combat. But he insisted it was manageable to lift the ban. He said it would be more disruptive to do so by the courts, and expressed a hidden view that the Log Cabin Republicans might eventually prevail at the appellate and Supreme Court level. (Gates is a Republican himself.)

McCain later asked Gates if anyone had been held responsible within the military for PFC Bradley Manning's leak, without specifically saying that the soldier is gay. The Wikileaks issue came up again right at the end of the hearing.

Ben Nelson asked about "squaring the circle" and the double moral standard of honesty and hiding at the same time.

Gates said that servicemembers discharged honorably with DADT spin codes would eventually be able to return to active duty, but that would take some time. Gates also said he would have to "certify" the end of the policy.

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