Thursday, February 25, 2010
Obama Proposes, Congress Disposes, and the Military Opposes
As with a lot of things coming out of the Obama Administration these days, the more questions that are asked, the worse its ideas look.
A month ago, in his State of the Union address, the President said, "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are."
The President did not, however, offer any repeal legislation of his own. Not unlike another issue you may have heard about lately, health care, in which case only until today did the President provide his own legislative proposal. But Congress did not complain, and has gone to "work" to "repeal the law," to quote the President.
The early results cannot be impressive to the White House. After a week of annual defense budget hearings featuring the leaders of the four military services, Congress' idea for repealing the law making homosexuals ineligible for military service, (usually mislabeled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell") has been met with a resounding thud. The proposal, spearheaded by Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman Carl Levin, for a "moratorium" on discharges of gay personnel, met with considerable skepticism from the Committee's ranking member, Senator John McCain. Senator McCain led the way in strongly criticizing a "'moratorium'...before any decision is made. ...[I]t [a moratorium on homosexual discharges] flies in the face of what the Secretary of Defense committed to."
When asked his position on a moratorium by Chairman Levin, Army Chief of Staff General George Casey, Jr., answered:
Senator, I would recommend against it. Aside from the legal issues that the [Secretary of the Army John McHugh] mentioned, it would complicate the whole process that Secretary Gates had laid out. We would be put in a position of actually implementing it while we were studying implementation.
The "process" Casey cites refers to a so-called "study" or "review" by the Pentagon, proposed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates before SASC on February 2, 2010, on "implementation" of repeal. What General Casey came all around saying, but could not say directly as a leading official appearing before a co-equal branch of government, is that this "moratorium" proposal amounts to de facto repeal. As CMR President Elaine Donnelly has said, "by definition, a Defense Department task force producing a pre-determined paper on 'how' and not 'if' Congress should repeal the [law making homosexuals ineligible for military service] will not be an objective 'study.' And a 45-day search for excuses to suspend enforcement of the...law suggests that the Executive Branch can pick and choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore. This is worse than pointless-it is irresponsible." And a moratorium, or suspension, of discharges while the so-called study proceeds has the same effect.
General Casey went on to say to Levin: "Chairman, this process is going to be difficult and -- and complicated enough. Anything that complicates it more I think I would be opposed to." He said much the same thing today to the House Armed Services Committee.
At that same hearing today, Army Secretary John McHugh said he was "strongly opposed to a moratorium," and noted that Secretary Gates had informed him of the Defense Department's opposition to a moratorium as well.
The House fared no better with the Department of the Navy. Yesterday, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead gave his personal view that he was in agreement in going forward with the review ordered by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He added that the review would survey "the force and families," and emphasized the importance of doing so. He also noted that focus should be on the United States military, "not another country's force---our force." He stated his view that a moratorium would be "confusing" to the force, concluding that he did not support it.
Marine Corps Commandant General James Conway said any review needs to focus on readiness, and stated that the "current construct [the law making homosexuals ineligible] supports that purpose," and that any consideration of the issue now should do the same. He agreed with the CNO on the moratorium, saying either "change the law or not, ...half measures will only be confusing in the end." In testimony before the Senate today, Gen. Conway stated that "unless we can strip away the emotion, the agenda, and the politics...and ask...do we somehow enhance the warfighting capabilities of the United States Marine Corps by allowing homosexuals to openly serve, then we haven't addressed it from the correct perspective. At this point...my best military advice to this committee, to the Secretary, and to the President would be to keep the law such as it is."
The Air Force brass has had less to say, but only because it has been under less pressure. Their only appearance thus far in the annual congressional defense budget process has been before the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), whose Chairman, Rep. Ike Skelton, opposes repeal. Under questioning from HASC Ranking Member Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), who asked General Norton Schwarz if he thought the law should be repealed, the Air Force Chief of Staff offered that with two wars going on, now is "not the time to perturb the force," and echoed CNO Roughead that information on military families was necessary before deciding on repeal.
As with the year-long efforts to close Gitmo and reform health care, this Administration seems to have a nasty habit of making big promises with no plan on how to deliver. In this case, lucky for the United States military. While people of good conscience may disagree on any array of other issues, the unity of our military experts opposing a moratorium on discharges of homosexuals, which amounts to de facto repeal of the law, cannot be ignored. These leaders have devoted lifetimes to the service of our nation and are ultimately responsible for lives affected by the policies they impose or Congress enacts. We ignore their sage wisdom at our national security peril.
Military Secretaries, Chiefs Oppose "Moratorium" on Discharges of Gays
In testimony before Congress this week, leaders of the four military services were questioned on their personal and professional views regarding President Barack Obama's plan to repeal the law making homosexuals ineligible for military service. Their answers to questions from congressional leaders showed that they have not been persuaded by gay activists' arguments for open homosexuality in the United States armed forces. These leaders bear the ultimate responsibility for the consequences of such misguided proposals, giving their insights preponderant weight.
In a hearing with Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff, General George Casey, Jr., Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan raised the prospect of a "moratorium," which would in effect halt discharges pending a so-called Pentagon "review" of how to repeal the law. Senator John McCain led the way in strongly criticizing a "'moratorium'"...before any decision is made. ...[I]t [a moratorium on homosexual discharges] flies in the face of what the Secretary of Defense committed to."
When questioned on their position on a moratorium on homosexual discharges, Secretary McHugh and General Casey offered serious reservations.
Secretary McHugh: "...[T]he preference would be we would not enact a moratorium."
General Casey was even more assertive in an exchange with Chairman Levin:
Senator, I would recommend against it [a moratorium]. Aside from the legal issues that the secretary mentioned, it would complicate the whole process that Secretary Gates had laid out. We would be put in a position of actually implementing it while we were studying implementation. And I don't think that would be prudent.
If the moratorium were simply a moratorium---in other words, you're not implementing anything. You're just withholding discharges until that study is completed.
Chairman, this process is going to be difficult and---and complicated enough. Anything that complicates it more I think I would be opposed to.
While the Senate hearing was underway, the House was conducting its annual budget authorization hearing with Air Force leaders. Secretary Michael B. Donley and Chief of Staff General Norton A. Schwartz testified before the House Armed Services Committee (HASC).
Under questioning from HASC Ranking Member Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), who asked Gen. Schwarz if he thought the law should be repealed, the Air Force chief offered that with two wars going on, now is "not the time to perturb the force," and that information on military families was necessary before deciding on repeal.
Yesterday, the HASC held a similar hearing with Navy and Marine Corps leadership; Secretary Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Gary Roughead, and Marine Corps Commandant General James Conway.
McKeon asked the Navy and USMC chiefs if the law should be repealed and
their views on a moratorium. Roughead gave his personal view that he was in agreement in going forward with the review ordered by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He added that the review would survey "the force and families," and emphasized the importance of doing so. He also noted that focus should be on the United States military, "not another country's force---our force." He stated his view that a moratorium would be "confusing" to the force, concluding that he did not support it.
Gen. Conway said any review needs to focus on readiness, and stated that the
"current construct [the law making homosexuals ineligible] supports that purpose," and that any consideration of the issue now should do the same. He agreed with the CNO on the moratorium, saying either "change the law or not,...half measures will only be confusing in the end."
In effect, the opposition to repeal from our country's top military leaders, the individual Service Secretaries and Chiefs of Staff, illustrates that a "moratorium" would be nothing less than a thinly-veiled, de facto repeal. Senator McCain and Representative McKeon deserve high praise for exposing this back-door effort to make repeal a fait accompli, as well as do the Chiefs for their steadfast opposition in the face of congressional pressure to accept such a proposal.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Expert push-back on repeal of gays in military law
A wave of contrary analysis has emerged in opposition to the misguided plan proposed to Congress this week on the issue of gays in the military. On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates revealed a proposal before the Senate Armed Services Committee that would weaken enforcement of existing law, Sec. 654, Title 10, which makes homosexuals ineligible for military service, while also undertaking an internal Pentagon "study" aimed at implementing repeal of that law. Problem: The Pentagon doesn't get to make laws. That's Congress job, and Sec. 654, Title 10 is still on the books, as Senator McCain forcefully reminded the Secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, during the hearing. (You can see the video here. Use the video player's progress bar to fast forward to the approximately 204-minute mark). Senator McCain voiced his strong objection that their plan would not consider "whether the military prepares to [repeal the law], but how." Senator Sessions, another member of the Committee, strongly suggested that Gates' and Mullen's endorsement of repeal in effect compromised any study or review that their subordinates at the Pentagon might undertake.
With these events as backdrop, commentary from various sources was offered throughout the week:
Colonel David Bedey (US Army, ret.), a veteran of 30 years experience, explains in specific detail the problems with open homosexuality in the military and the broader gay-activist agenda behind it:
Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": A Clear and Present Danger
Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy and frequent national security issues commentator explains in the Washington Times why the Obama Administration effort to repeal the law will ultimately fail:
Obama Versus the All-Volunteer Military
Former Army Criminal Law Division chief and Virginia Assemblyman Richard Black exposes the fallacies of the gay-activists' arguments that open homosexuality in the military would not hurt discipline, and thereby overall readiness:
Danger to Discipline
William Kristol of the Weekly Standard asks why, of all the institutions that Americans question right now, is the Obama Administration targeting the one it trusts most, the United States military:
Don't Mess With Success
In this video, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council goes head-to-head with the executive director of the gay-activist Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization whose primary mission is repeal of the law, on MSNBC's Hardball:
Peter Sprigg on MSNBC's Hardball
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
DoD Plan Would Violate 1993 Eligibility Law and Demoralize Troops
In their testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should not compromise principle by proposing an unworkable plan to undermine the 1993 law regarding homosexuals in the military (Section 654, Title 10). As reported by the Washington Post, the testimony that Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen are expected to deliver suggests an irresponsible plan that would incrementally eviscerate the law by unilaterally suspending its enforcement for specious reasons.
Such a plan would create an incentive for "third parties" to guarantee retention of gay partners in the military simply by identifying their partner as gay. Homosexuals would become a protected class under standards different from everyone else. This would constitute a clear violation of the 1993 law stating that homosexuals are not eligible for military service, and establish a double standard that, in the name of "consistency," weakens discipline across the board.
Finding #9 in the law could not be more clear: "The standards of conduct for members of the armed forces regulate a member's life for 24 hours each day beginning at the moment the member enters military status and not ending until that person is discharged or otherwise separated from the armed forces." Finding #10 reads, "Those standards of conduct, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice, apply to a member of the armed forces at all times that the member has a military status, whether the member is on base or off base, and whether the member is on duty or off duty."
Furthermore, Finding #13 clearly asserts: "The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a long-standing element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service." There is nothing in the actual law that authorizes the institutional dishonesty inherent in Secretary Gates' and Adm. Mullen's reported plan to establish a double standard for homosexuals who are not eligible to serve in the military.
The Secretary of Defense does not get to choose which laws he will enforce and which ones he will not. Nor does he have the power to issue regulations that contradict the law, creating confusion and demoralizing the troops in order to help President Obama deliver on a political promise.
If the Defense Department excuses the behavior of personnel who show poor judgment by engaging in homosexual conduct revealed by others, there will be more misconduct, not less. This is a plan for officially condoned indiscipline, in violation of the clear language and intent of the law.
This article provides background on the genesis of Secretary Gates' peculiar comment about more "humane" ways to enforce the 1993 law:
Defining Discipline Down
In most cases, homosexuals reveal themselves to be gay, and they are honorably discharged. If credible information comes to the attention of military authorities, and there are no unusual circumstances that rebut the reasonable "presumption" of homosexual conduct, the person in question is subject to discharge, usually honorable. Anyone who engages in homosexual conduct is, by definition, not eligible to be in the armed forces.
President Obama is promoting a new "LGBT Law" for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders in the armed forces. A bill co-sponsored by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) and more than 180 others, H.R. 1283, would forbid discrimination based on "homosexuality or bisexuality, whether the orientation is real or perceived." If passed, the law would be retroactive-allowing re-entry and restored promotions for anyone previously discharged. The LGBT Law would apply to all units, including infantry battalions, Special Operations Forces, Navy SEALS and submarines, on a 24/7 basis.
As stated in the statute itself, "There is no constitutional right to serve in the military." Many groups of people who are patriotic are not eligible to serve in uniform, but everyone can serve our country in some way.
There is no way that a Pentagon panel of any size can come up with a plan to make the LGBT agenda work with no negative effects on recruiting and retention, morale, and readiness in the military. CMR has prepared charts illustrating just how radical the new LGBT Law for the Military would be:
Consequences of the Proposed New "LGBT Law" for the Military
More than 1,160 retired Flag & General Officers for the Military have personally signed a statement supporting the 1993 law, and expressing concerns about consequences of repeal that would "break the All-Volunteer Force."