Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

John McCain Attacks Pentagon's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Study

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

John McCain Attacks Pentagon's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Study

Article excerpt

At a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain called the Pentagon's study of repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' a political ploy.

A little-publicized, normally perfunctory hearing to confirm the next commandant of the Marine Corps turned into a grand stage for political theater Tuesday when Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona traded jabs with his fellow legislators and Pentagon officials on the topic of "don't ask, don't tell."

During the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Senator McCain, the ranking Republican, was clearly irritated and apparently amazed at the ongoing Congressional push to repeal the ban on openly gay troops serving in the US military. "Have you seen the, quote, study, that is being conducted by the Department of Defense?" he asked Gen. James Amos, currently the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps and now up for the branch's top job. The study he referred to is a Pentagon survey to determine opinions about the repeal among troops and their families.

McCain did not wait for an answer. "You know that this study, quote unquote, does not assess the impact of morale and effectiveness on the repeal of the law?"

He then raised a particular source of contention - that the study currently being conducted by the senior Pentagon officials on the impact of repealing the ban on openly gay troops was designed to help Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others figure out not, "whether," but how best to change the policy. He called this "an incredible act of disingenuous behavior on their part."

Gen. Amos seemed unsure how to respond to this attack on his bosses.

He didn't have to, as McCain continued. "So I guess my question is," the senator wondered, "would you be able to determine the effect on morale and battle effectiveness" of the repeal, or instead would the survey simply "tell you how best the repeal can be implemented? …

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