John McCain in a still from Thursday’s DADT discussion in Congress. The Arizona senator engaged in a vigorous exchange with Adm. Mike Mullen at a hearing on the repeal question.
How is it that Sen. John McCain can look at the same Pentagon study about repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” as Defense Secretary Robert Gates and uniformed military leaders did and reach such a strikingly different conclusion about how to proceed?
Well, for starters, it would appear that McCain gave high priority to certain aspects of the report, according to The New York Times, while supporters of lifting the ban on GLBT troops serving openly looked at the bigger picture. MSNBC’s coverage of the discussion between McCain and military leaders is posted below the NYT excerpt here. —KA
The New York Times:
Citing the results of a Pentagon survey of 115,000 active duty and reserve service members, Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, said that 58 percent of Marines in combat units and 48 percent of Army combat troops thought repealing the 17-year-old law would have either a negative or a very negative impact on the ability of their units to work together.
“I remain concerned, as I have in the past, and as demonstrated in this study, that the closer we get to service members in combat, the more we encounter concerns about whether ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ should be repealed,” Mr. McCain said at a Senate hearing. “These views should not be considered lightly, especially considering how much combat our forces face.”
Mr. McCain’s views were in striking contrast to those expressed by an array of the nation’s top defense and military officials, who appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to urge repeal of the law, which requires gay men and women in the military to keep their sexual orientation secret or face discharge. The officials also pressed on the committee the larger conclusions of the survey, which found that 70 percent of all service members responded that allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military “would be positive, mixed or of no consequence at all.”