Not Far Enough

Colin Powell Very Careful Not to Demand Actual Repeal of DADT

If Congress decided to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and military leaders opted to fall into line, and President Obama wanted it gone … well, then Colin Powell would be in favor of getting rid of the law. That’s as far as Powell is willing to go, since “I am not chairman of the joint chiefs of staff anymore” — but he advocates the law being put under review by congressional committees.

It’s a position he expounded on in December, which represented a change of mind from the early 1990s, when he supported the policy. (Last night on Rachel Maddow’s show, he said he never wanted it to become law; in a 2003 interview, his described support for the policy.)

Powell is, clearly, being very careful to not to step outside the chain of command. He’s advocating for the policy to be reviewed by the proper channels, but he has not said he wants Obama, the military, or Congress to actually repeal the thing.

Is that good enough?

You might think so, until you hear from former Secretary of the Army Clifford Alexander (and the first black man to hold the post), who just calls bullshit on the entire Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. “It takes the basic integrity of a person and says ‘You must forget it.’ It turns people into liars. Would you ask at this particular point for a Muslim to act like a Jew?”

All of a sudden, Powell’s position doesn’t sound so progressive.

Watch Alexander’s interview at the 3:10 mark.