Ryan Grim at The Huffington Post reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ramps up the pressure to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and sent letters to President Obama and Defense Secretary Gates. Reid invoked the names of Lt. Dan Choi and Lt. Col.Victor Fehrehbach and told Obama this "leadership was needed" to make the repeal happen.
In letters to Gates and Obama dated Sept. 24th and obtained by HuffPost, the Nevada Democrat asks each to 'bring to Congress your recommendations on DADT' -- the policy that allows gay or lesbian Americans to serve in the military as long as they don't mention that they are gay or lesbian. A legislative fix could be difficult; it is not at all clear that the Senate could find 60 votes to overcome a likely filibuster. Reid, therefore, is calling in Obama. 'As Congress considers future legislative action, we believe it would be helpful to hear your views on the policy,' he writes. 'Your leadership in this matter is greatly appreciated and needed at this time.'
Reid, in the letters, also highlights the plight of two servicemen, one of whom he met when he was the keynote speaker at a recent Las Vegas Human Rights Campaign Gala Dinner. First Lieutenant Daniel Choi was a West Point grad, served in Iraq and was an Arab linguist. In April, he received a discharge letter from the Army after publicly revealing he was gay, Reid writes to Obama. Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fehrenbach is headed for a 'similar fate,' Reid tells Obama. He was an 18-year Air Force vet who has flown numerous missions against Taliban and al-Qaida targets, 'including the longest combat mission in his squadron's history.' The government, Reid notes, has invested $25 million on his training."
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports an article in the next issue of Joint Force Quarterly, the Pentagon's top scholarly journal, calls for the ban's repeal. Col. Om Prakash, now working in the office of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates writes: "There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected" and "It is not time for the administration to reexamine the issue; rather it is time for the administration to examine how to implement the repeal of the ban."
The article won the 2009 Secretary of Defense National Security Essay competition. Its publication in the Joint Chiefs’ flagship security studies journal has a been called a "breakthrough development."
Last night the White House responded to Reid: "The President appreciates the Majority Leader's letter and looks forward to working with him and other members of Congress as they move towards a legislative repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Not exactly news. But when Rep. Alcee Hastings, vice chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote a similar letter to the President he was ignored.