It’s bad enough that precious Pentagon resources are being expended supporting and securing President Obama’s pashalike excursion to India and other Asian nations this month. After all, such expenditures come at a time when the defense budget is being cut dramatically - even as wartime operations continue in two countries.
Team Obama is simultaneously undertaking what is, arguably, an even more egregious assault on the armed forces: politicizing them in the interest of advancing a rank partisan purpose - appeasing homosexual activists who seek to make major progress on their broader political agenda by obtaining repeal of the 1993 law that prohibits them from serving in the military.
President Obama and his allies insist that that law - which is incessantly and incorrectly called “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the nickname for a Clinton-era Defense Department regulation that was intended to undermine the statute by allowing gays to serve as long as they kept their sexual preferences a secret - is a throwback to a bygone era. In a way, they are right.
The homosexual-exclusion legislation was crafted back at a time when Congress actually held comprehensive hearings, in this case, 12 of them, and engaged in extensive and informed debate on such important public policy bills. Members even read the draft legislation before voting on it - including its 15 findings, which are as relevant today as they were then in enumerating why homosexuality is incompatible with the good order and discipline essential to the U.S. military’s effectiveness.
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen have fallen into line behind the president’s insistence that this statute be repealed. Adm. Mullen has gone so far as to declare that those who disagree should “vote with their feet” - in other words, get out of uniform and end the sacrifices they and their families are making to serve our country in time of war.
Such behavior by top Pentagon leaders constitutes what the armed forces call “command influence.” It is being manifested in what is becoming increasingly clearly a politicized study of the effects of repealing the homosexual-exclusion law. This study is being performed by the so-called Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG), co-chaired by the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, and the commander of U.S. forces in Europe, Gen. Carter F. Ham. Its report is due to be submitted to the secretary of defense on Dec. 1.
But the results of the CRWG study have begun leaking already. Or, more accurately, false reports about the study’s findings have lately made their way into the press. Specifically, Associated Press reported last week that a survey conducted at the behest of the working group had found significant support in the military for repeal of the homosexual-exclusion statute.
In fact, the survey did not ask that question. Worse yet, in one or more of the “town hall” forums where service personnel were able to express themselves on the issue, a senior member of the CRWG, Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, who is in charge of personnel matters for the Army, reportedly engaged in his own bit of command influence by declaring, according to The Washington Times, that personnel who oppose repeal are “racists” and “bigots.” Echoing Adm. Mullen’s exhortation, Gen. Bostick reportedly said that anyone who doesn’t “get with the program” should “get out.”
Further evidence of the politicization of the Pentagon under Team Obama can be found in the contrasting treatment of these two reports. Senior Defense Department officials immediately and vociferously denied the truth of the allegations about Gen. Bostick. Yet, to this day, no official has publicly challenged the accuracy of the false reports about the survey’s findings on military attitudes concerning preserving the ban on open homosexuals’ service in uniform - even though general counsel Jeh Johnson privately acknowledged in a Nov. 1 e-mail that those reports are untrue. Failure to discredit the original story when reporters requested comment invited more worldwide repetitions and more dishonest leaks that conveniently serve the political purposes of Mr. Obama.
It now appears that the president’s hope to jam the repeal of the homosexual-exclusion statute through Congress during the upcoming lame-duck session probably will not happen. Thanks to Sen. John McCain’s courageous and steadfast efforts to protect the culture of the military from this direct assault, Mr. Obama’s pandering to the radical homosexual agenda failed before and seems doomed to fail during the next few weeks.
Unfortunately, that agenda has advanced nonetheless in a federal court in California and in the Pentagon’s own implementation of the law. A ruling by Judge Virginia A. Phillips found the statute unconstitutional and directed the Defense Department to stop enforcing it worldwide. An appeals court wisely stayed that reckless and overreaching judicial action, but not before Mr. Gates made unnecessary and counterproductive changes in departmental procedures to make it vastly more difficult for homosexuals who make their sexual preferences known to be removed from the ranks - as the law requires.
We expect to be spared the travesty of having yesterday’s Senate take an action with respect to homosexuals in the military that would have far-reaching and highly deleterious repercussions for many years to come - repercussions that an honest Pentagon study would document in detail.
What is extremely distressing, though, is the residue of this politicization effort - one that seems likely to undermine the military culture and the Pentagon’s credibility on social issues even if Congress refuses to accede to the Obama-homosexual agenda.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program “Secure Freedom Radio,” heard in Washington weeknights at 9 p.m. on WRC 1260-AM.