the don't tell show

Colin Powell Will Always Defer to What Military Brass Want on DADT

We’ve chronicled how Gen. Colin Powell’s stance on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell evolved in 2008, 2009, and in 2010. His latest remarks about the policy, issued via statement in February, pushed the needle thisclose to the point of fully supporting the law. Today, he took an even deeper plunge. But don’t think he’s coming out in support of lawmaker’s bold move last week

Watching Powell’s careful word choice about DADT has been an exercise in taking the temperature of both the American public in military leaders; his public positions on the policy always seemed to find the middle ground. In his February remarks, Powell stated: “In the almost 17 years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed. I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.”

See how that almost got him to fully supporting a repeal? Because Gates and Mullen’s approach wasn’t an actual repeal, but a review of a repeal, Powell inserted his opinions into the ether of near-certainty without going all the way. And don’t expect him to ever truly disagree with current military leadership. Ain’t gonna happen.

And it didn’t. On ABC’s This Week today, Powell said that while “it is perfectly acceptable to get rid of the law and the policy,” there’s a big but: “[B]efore we actually do it, we have to hear clearly from the officers and men and women who are in charge of executing that policy. … I think it’s important to listen to the troops who are affected and take into account the views of the senior leadership and military leadership of the armed forces.”

Which closely echoes the remarks made today by Adm. Mullen: “Ideally, I would certainly have preferred that legislation not be brought forward in terms of the change until we are completed with that review,” a nod to the House voting in favor of a compromised DADT repeal attached to the Pentagon’s budget. “It is really critical to understand the points of view of those it will affect the most as we look at the implementation challenges, should the law change. So we will complete that review and certainly incorporate what we learned from that into implementation when that time comes.”