In this week's Friday evening document dump ...
Defense Secretary Roberts Gates writes a "strongly worded" letter warning Congress against repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" before the Pentagon concludes its year-long "study"—ie, before the mid-term elections. Because we need to get the troops' opinions first, reports the Associated Press.
"In a strongly worded letter, obtained by The AP, Gates told a House committee that forcing policy changes on the military before it's ready 'would send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence their views, concerns and perspectives do not matter.' Gay rights advocates want legislation this year that would freeze military firings of openly gay service members, and some lawmakers are planning to offer such a bill."
"Today’s letter from Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton flies in the face of the President’s commitment in the State of the Union address to work with Congress to repeal the discriminatory 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' law this year. If the President is going to fulfill his promise it is essential that he address this contradiction immediately. It is inconceivable that the Secretary of Defense would so blatantly undermine the Commander-in-Chief’s policy commitment. There is no reason that Congress cannot move forward with repeal while the Pentagon’s review of how – not if – to end the ban on open service continues apace. ... Action by Congress this year ... will not, as the Secretary suggests, ‘send a very damaging message to our men and women in uniform that in essence their views, concerns and perspectives do not matter on an issue with such a direct impact on and consequence for them and their families.’ But failure to act this year will, without a doubt, continue to send the message to the thousands of gay and lesbian Americans serving their country in silence that their views and concerns, and the impact on them and their families, do not matter to the military leadership, including their Commander-in-Chief."
"[Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill] said Pelosi’s position is unchanged. 'The Speaker maintains her hope to repeal this discriminatory policy this year.' Separately, Pelosi issued a statement publicly saying she believes a moratorium should be put in place for the time being. 'We all look forward to the report on the review of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy by the Defense Department,” she said. “In the meantime, the administration should immediately place a moratorium on dismissals under this policy until the review has been completed and Congress has acted.'"
The official response from the White House Press Office, emailed to Rod 2.0:
"The President's commitment to repealing "don't ask, don't tell" is unequivocal. This is not a question of if, but how. That's why we've said that the implementation of any congressional repeal will be delayed until the DOD study of how best to implement that repeal is completed. The President is committed to getting this done both soon and right."
The complete letter can be seen HERE.
Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton is on record for opposing any repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." In the last several weeks, a growing number of Democratic senators and congressmen have pushed to include repeal language in the FY2011 Defense Authorization Request. This letter from DefSec Gates should clearly telegraph the White House's "intentions" toward those troublemakers.
More as this develops over the weekend ...