From The Washington Post -- December 2, 2010:
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Report Dismissed by McCain
By Ed O'Keefe
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a leading Republican critic of ending the "don't ask, don't tell" law, dismissed a new Pentagon report on the issue Thursday and said Congress should not vote to change military personnel policy during a time of war.
"At this time, we should be inherently cautious about making any changes that would affect our military, and what changes we do make should be the product of careful and deliberate consideration," McCain said Tuesday during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
The panel heard from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and the co-authors of the report released Tuesday, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham.
Concerns expressed by troops in the report about ending the ban on gays in the military "do not present an insurmountable barrier" to successfully ending the law, Gates said.
Despite those assurances, McCain said more time is needed to consider whether the military should change the law. The Pentagon studied the issue for 10 months, but "The members of this committee received it 36 hours ago, and my staff and I are still going through it and analyzing it carefully," McCain said.
He once again voiced his disagreement with the scope of the report, saying it failed to study whether the law should be repealed. "Unfortunately, that key issue was not the focus of this study," he said. Further, he worried that a study sent to troops last summer only accounts for 6 percent of the total armed forces.
"I find it hard to view that as a fully-representative sample set," McCain said.
Mullen acknowledged some of McCain's concerns, noting that some troops quoted in the report worry about having to bunk or shower with openly gay troops.
"We'll deal with that," Mullen said. "But I believe and history tells us that most of them will put aside personal proclivities for something larger than themselves and for each other."
"There are some for whom this debate is all about gray areas," Mullen said. "There is no gray area here. We treat each other with respect, or we find another place to work. Period. That's why I also believe leadership will prove vital."
Emerging as the Pentagon's most forceful, emotional proponent for ending the law, Mullen said current policy "doesn't make any sense to me," because it requires troops to lie about their identity while serving for a military that values integrity.
Gates pressed senators to act this month to end the ban, warning that, "Those that choose not to act legislatively are rolling the dice that this policy will not be abruptly overturned by the courts."
Johnson said repeal of the law should be handled by political leaders and not federal judges, noting that the Pentagon was forced to shift course on the policy twice in the span of eight days by two federal court rulings.
"This legal uncertainty is not going away any time soon," he said, because a legal challenge brought by the Log Cabin Republicans remains under consideration by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
The clock is ticking on legislative efforts to end the law. With three weeks left before Christmas, it is unclear whether the Senate will consider the defense policy bill that includes language ending the ban. First, Senate leadership is expected to introduce legislation addressing the expiration of tax cuts, a government spending plan and possibly a nuclear disarmament treaty with Russia.