He supported it just a few years ago. Has his mind changed?

Is Colin Powell Coming Out … Against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?

The last time former Secretary of State Colin Powell made a big announcement was on Meet The Press, and it was there that the former George W. Bush cabinet member endorsed Barack Obama for president. Nearly as striking, though, were his words about anti-Muslim sentiment being pushed by the GOP, which stands accused of perpetrating the “Obama is a Muslim” farce. Said Powell: “Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.”

Well brace yourselves, kids, because Mr. Powell is back on a Sunday morning chat show this weekend, and he’s expected to deliver yet another powerful message that breaks from the pack. And it concerns you homos.

Powell is the guest on CNN’s GPS with Fareed Zakaria, and there he will come out against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Powell will say the homophobic policy needs to be “reevaluated,” according to preview clip of the interview. (You can tune in to CNN at 1pm EST on Sunday to catch the interview.)

Is it so shocking for Powell to so openly criticize DADT? Not so much — Powell has taught us to expect anything from him at this point. But also, that we should expect reasonable, competent conclusions from the man who tried convincing President Bush not to go to war with Iraq.

Keep in mind, of course, that Powell supported Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and tried eschewing the notion that endorsing such a policy was tantamount to homophobia. In a 2003 interview with Teen Ink, the decorated veteran said:

I think any form of discrimination has to be looked at. As you know, the military has the policy, “Don’t ask, don’t tell, ” so that somebody who is openly homosexual does not serve. I’m an advocate of that policy, I helped put that policy in place and I’m accused, therefore, of supporting homophobia.

But I think it’s a different matter with respect to the military because you’re essentially told who you’re going to live with, who you’re going to sleep next to, and it’s a different set of circumstances in a military environment.

Out of a military environment, in a school, I think any act that suggests someone should be discriminated against or in some way stigmatized because of their racial background, ethnic background or sexual preference is not appropriate.

Here in the State Department, sexual preference makes no difference; we have gay ambassadors and employees throughout the Department. I don’t know who they are and it’s none of my business, as long as they do their jobs.

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  • seitan-on-a-stick

    Too Little, too late Colonoscopy Powell!!

  • ajax


    Americans love a transformational story. For a supporter of DADT to transform to a “re-evaluater” of DADT is important. For a nationally known African-American to speak toward gay equality is important. For a nationally known African-American Christian to speak toward gay equality is huge.

    Luvs me this man!

  • Bill Perdue

    Bill Clinton, Colin Powell and Obama advisor Sam Nunn crafted DADT which codified military bigotry and made it much worse and easier to impose. It was the first of Clinton’s major betrayals of his promises. Obama will do the same.

    The open bigotry of DADT is responsible for discharges irrespective of merit, the loss of benefits and retirement and an unknown number of violent assaults and murders by bigots who were empowered by it.

    Colin Powell thought that endorsing Obama would get him a plumb job but Obama had to placate the pro war crowd with Hillary the Hawk and retain Republican war minister Gates.

    Now Powell is soldiering on, making another attempt to snuggle. Perhaps if he wears a red, white n’ blue speedo and leads the GLBT inaugural marching band with a big glittery baton he can make enough points to at least be ambassador or something.

    That band, an awesomely courageous concession from the man who wouldn’t stop shouting ‘god’s in the mix’ may be the last concession we’ll get from Obama for quite awhile.

  • Jenna's Bush

    Powell was more than a “supporter” of DADT. His insubordination to his Commander-in-Chief helped create the policy after Clinton proposed allowing Gays & Lesbians to serve openly in the military, fulfilling his campaign promise.

  • RichardR

    Bill, you are right that DADT is a really dumb and bad policy, perhaps only a tad better than its predecessor, that gays can’t serve in the military. Period.

    But it’s a triumph, and hugely influential, that Powell will be seen as changing his mind. It will take some time, but the day soon will come when gays can serve openly in the military.

    I feel strongly that this is where we should have started our “new” activism, instead of our troubled push for gay marriage. Civil rights historians say that integrating the military was of fundamental importance in advancing the civil rights of African-Americans.

    And IMHO — okay, not so humble — we’re fighting the wrong fight on marriage anyway. We need to take the civil aspects of marriage out of churches. Get married in a church if you wish and they will, but ya gotta do it in city hall. Like they do it in – gasp – France.

  • Bill Perdue


    Richard, this is strike three for Colin Powell.

    Strike one was his attempt to defame courageous GI’s who exposed massacres like the one at My Lai. As a ranking officer overseeing the 11th Light Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division he told GI’s not to ask or tell about the murder of over 500 civilians at My Lai. Vietnam was an example, as are Iran and Afghanistan, of the US military’s routine and pervasive brutality against civilians. Colin Powell denied the truth and said “In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.”

    Strike two was the authorization of the murder of a couple of hundred thousand trapped Iraqi soldiers in the ‘kill box’ organized by Schwarzkopf. It was not a military act, it was terrorist mass murder.

    Strike three was his fully conscious policy of lies to the US public, the Congress, the UN and world opinion regarding the WMDs which Bush used to excuse his genocidal invasion and population of Iraq.

    His role was no different from that of Hitler’s foreign minister Von Ribbentrop. Powell is a war criminal.

    He wants a job in the new administrations and that why he’s trying to erase his past. Obama will try to enlarge and continue the oil wars and that’s why DADT is being revisited. If DADT is repealed it’ll be because Obama needs cannon fodder.

  • Bill Perdue

    @Bill Perdue:

    Jenna’s Bush is a liar. Nunn, Powell and Clinton helped craft DADT as a compromise between decency and bigotry. It turned out to be just bigotry. Clinton signed it. He broke his promise because he’s a Democrat and that’s what Democrats do when it comes to GLBT rights.

    DOMA. DADT. ENDA. Hate crimes. And worst yet, Obama’s craven pandering to bigots which defeated our efforts in California, Florida and Arizona.

  • Bill Perdue

    Richard, I agree with you about priorities and my would be for an uncompromising and inclusive ENDA, a robust hate crimes and hate speech bill and linking with the antiwar and union movements but build mass demonstrations against bigotry, the war and the imposition of austerity.

  • Jenna's Bush

    Fuck you, bitch, you’re the liar. The policy before DADT was “seek out and discharge”. DADT was an improvement over that, however imperfect.

  • Leland Frances

    Japhy, Japhy, Japhy! It is unlikely Bush would have gotten a pass to invade Iraq [read: cause the deaths of tens of thousands, bankrupt our economy and world respect, and blow a country’s infrastructure to pieces that we’re now paying his cronies to rebuild] had it not been for Gen. Rectum Powell who told the UN, the American people, Congress, et al.:

    “My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”

    Just one of multiple articles in which experts who were actually doing that “intelligence” dispute his claims at:


    But his Eichmannesque/Mein Fuhrer! lack of character goes much farther back than that to when he was accused of covering up the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in which American soldiers murdered several elderly men, women, and children. Nor is he the mocha chocolata Renaissance man so many shallow white liberals have always been quick to ascribe to him.

    He’s an empty suit/uniform; a C-average student in college [GEOLOGY major!] who, like Bush fils, finally hid his intellectual shortcomings behind an MBA. Despite an evaluation that declared him a poor leader who should not be promoted, like Clarence Thomas and other pieces of shit he floated to the top because it made his white superiors feel and/or look good.

    And how is calling for a “review” the same as “coming out against” DADT? Sure, we should be happy to exploit his words among those still stupid enough to not see through his act, but stop the goddamn naive Hosannas because there’s no reason to believe for a second that he’s had a change of heart or mind [both are FAR smaller than most of you would like to believe]. He was willfully ignorant and demonizing of us in 1993 so why should we trust him now?

    He and former Sen. Sam Cracka Nunn may have made a strange pair then [David Mixner called Nunn, “our George Wallace”], but they wore matching white hooded robes.

    From a TIME magazine account at the time: “The Joint Chiefs had always been dead set against change. And they remained so throughout days of intense negotiations in windowless rooms in the Pentagon. Indeed, they treated the entire debate like a national emergency. Amid discussions with [Secretary of Defense Les] Aspin, they met three times on July 2, more than anyone remembers their convening in one day during the entire Vietnam War. One chief referred to homosexuals as “fags,” and the Marine Corps Commandant, General Carl Mundy, passed out antigay video tapes at meetings. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Colin Powell, while talking cooperation with the White House, instigated behind-the-scenes opposition to the President. In a speech in Annapolis, he had told sailors he would understand if they chose to resign in the event that they ultimately disagreed with the President’s decision.”

    In the current interview, he continues to prove what a shameless, four star bastard he is claiming DADT’s “A policy I didn’t want to become a law”? Don’t play word games with me, Bitch! Whether a gay soldier’s life was ruined because he or she was kicked out under a policy or a law is irrelevant.

    AND, with the prestige he had then, if he actually cared he COULD have stopped it. But instead he led the other Joint Chiefs of Staff into tying Clinton’s dick into knots while Nunnnuts publicly dry fucked him.
    What HAS possibly changed about him? Either there’s a plum job in Obama’s administration he’s salivating for [just as Nunn made the same kind of noises hoping to be VP] or Ted Haggard’s hustler has pictures of Rectum with a minor male.

    It could be an indirect way to try to salvage some historians’ respect after having surrendered his soul to Bush fils thus ennobling the invasion of Iraq. But distorting the facts about the genesis of DADT isn’t the way to go about that.
    Fuck you, General Asshat, and not in the good way!

  • The Gay Numbers

    The only thing I care about is the repeal of DADT. To the extent this helps, the rest of the comments here by the usual suspects to me are irrelevant. I hope this will continue the behind the scenes effort toward building for the repeal fo the law and creation of policies tht will ensure a smooth transition to allow gay people to not be the subject of witch hunts in the military. Just like the gay leadership, a lot of older gays need to stop being stuck in the past. You are keeping the rest of us behind with your baggage.

  • Bill Perdue

    @The Gay Numbers: That, el numero zero, is because you, like many half wit deliberately dense Democrats choose to support the war and don’t care home many GLBT or hetero GI’s or muslims die if it makes your hero look good.

    That’s sick.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Bill Perdue: I don’t care about what you are selling. Good luck.

  • M Shane

    Clearly, given the discharge statistics DADT promoted a worse senario than it’s predecessor: there have been considerably more discharges for sexuality after DADT.

    I’m not sure what we a discusing here since the statement by Powell is contradictory. He states that he is not a homophobe in most aspects of government. Then he says that the military environment constitutes an exception.
    Like our soldiers are afraid of getting taken advantage of in the shower(?)

    It would take an act of congress for me to believe that Powell, after suporting the most immoral and illegal administration in history, regardless of his position on some issues had turned around and truely become a good guy: Bush et. al. is a nest of vipers and will be forever guilty of war crimes and defying the Constitution.

  • RCDC

    m shane – i know some people in the military who aren’t gay who got themselves discharged under DADT. it’s the best and only way out of the military without breaking the law, so they got themselves fake-outed. kinda sick, no? the numbers are higher, but there are reasons besides the fakers as well. for example many or most gay people in the military are in skilled and technical positions. those have increased proportional to unskilled positions. (if you ask how i know this, it’s info from the military census, which is confidential, so it actually gives fairly good data on gay service people.)
    look, does it really matter what you think of powell? isn’t the point what people on the fence about DADT think about him? i bet they like him a good bit more than anyone around here. this was the same problem with no on 8. no one else cares about the reasons YOU don’t like something. you have to give them reasons THEY can care about.

  • RichardR

    @Bill Perdue: Bill, knew something about strikes one and three, but two is news so me. What should I google to get some more information?

    And responding to your post #9, how much of a union presence do you guess we’ll have in this country when those splendid Republican senators whose states are rich with foreign, non-unionized auto factories finish with their auto bail-out plan.

    Man, sometimes we gotta take a deep breath, ya know? I just can’t stay nuts too much, it’s bad for my health and the lines between my eyes just get deeper. But I admire your passion, if not your every position.

  • Bill Perdue

    @RichardR: Iraq/Kill Box/ Kuwait would be my best guess. He was Bush1’s and later Clintons Chairman of the JCS. It was all over CNN at the time and causalities among the trapped Iraqi units were horrific, with estimates ranging from 50,000 to over 200,000 dead. I think Time Magazine did a cover piece on it. Clinton followed it up with his embargo that caused the death of hundreds of thousands of children and then Bush invaded and occupied Iraq. The sum of Iraqi civilian deaths equals genocide.

    My reading of the auto deal shows that Democrats as well as Republicans are demanding deep wage cuts. And that the UAW accepted them. The difference seems to be that the Republicans are eager to kill off the UAW and the Democrats want the same but covered by a fig leaf. They’re willing to let the UAW continue as a company union, which is what it will be if it accepts this deal. They’re afraid that if the UAW is killed off it’ll be replaced by something much more hard nosed and they’re right.

    If you remember you history the unions were virtually prostate after having lost the 1927-28 big steel strike and were discounted. Five years later the case hardened union movement was on the way to building the CIO.

    The attack on autoworkers, and you’re right, the UAW is the jewel in the union crown, is the first of Obama’s heavy austerity measures and they’ll be plenty more to follow to pay for the trillions of dollar’s going to bail out the retarded rich who wrecked the economy.

    This history is important and those who deny that are as stupid as children who mistake a mine field for a play box.

  • Bill Perdue

    Richard – for a good look at what’s going on inside the UAW and the unions as this unfolds check out http://www.kclabor.org/.

    Just in general, pessimism is that last thing I’d expect from the left as we enter a period when the government is trying to win an unwinnable war, impose austerity and all that in the context of an economy that’s bottoming out.

    The next period of US history has ‘radicalization’ written all over it.

  • Akula

    I’m in the Army and a buddy of mine was briefed at the the Pentagon 2 weeks ago, they are already getting ready for DADT to go away. It won’t be a total be open and do what you want right away type of thing, but within 2 years this will all be ancient history. I look forward to my husband pinning on my Sergeant Major in 3 years.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @Akula: Glad to hear this

  • JinkyJuggler

    Surely him changing his mind is a good thing. Rather than push people back down whenever they say something which shows they have realised they were wrong, you should embrace their new views and work with it for a more open military, such as those in Europe.

  • The Gay Numbers

    @JinkyJuggler: Some people would rather bite their own arms off to spite the help they recieve from Powell. Don’t be fooled by how they couch their position. . If they cared about present harm to enlisted gay military members, they would be asking how we can use Powell’s changed position rather than how much they hate Powell. That they focus on what they think of Powell tells you their first priority is certainly not currently enlisted gay people in the military.

  • chuck

    As a statement of defiance against Yes on Proposition 8 that was just passed in California, I’d like to see a new t-shirt and perhaps a button as well stating the following.

    Keep your morals

    Away from my government,

    Out of my pocket

    And off of my body

  • Bill Perdue

    @The Gay Numbers:

    The Gay Numbers is ignorant of history. Or a liar. Or both. He denies the fact that Colin Powell and Bill Clinton, anti-GLBT bigots and war criminals, aided by Sam Nunn, anti-GLBT bigot and Obama advisor, crafted DADT and rammed it through Congress.

    DADT is the codification of military bigotry.

    The Gay Numbers likes Obama and Powell because they support the genocide from Palestine to Pakistan thats also killed over 4,000 GI’s and will continue killing them when Obama becomes Bush on January 20th.

    Obama had years to present bills repealing DADT but chose not to.

    The Gay Numbers is a shill for war and anti-LGBT bigots. That’s sick.

  • Tim in SF

    Why is Ken Blackwell commenting? What does he know about the military or about gays? He’s got a background in neither. I think it would be like discussing affirmative action and having on a KKK member for “balance.”

    Is it because they needed an African American as a counter point to Powell? Is that all Powell is to CNN?

    CNN sucks.

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