It won’t be much help for Dan Choi, but all of a sudden the Pentagon is talking about how it might relax the rules for Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Wait — isn’t this the same Pentagon that said doing anything about the law would have to take place “down the road”?
Yes, yes it is. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in March that he and President Obama were too overwhelmed the serious matter of warfare that repealing the military’s discrimination policy would have to be “push[ed] … down the road a little bit.” In remarks made in April, Gates said, “There is a law; we will uphold the law. If the law changes, so will our policies.”
But maybe his policies can change without the law changing? Sure sounds like it! Yesterday Gates told reporters, “One of the things we’re looking at is, is there flexibility in how we apply this law,” adding, “We’re talking about how do we move forward on this, achieve this objective which is changing the policy.”
Gates says he and President Obama discussed DADT just last week — maybe around the same time our commander-in-chief realized the gays were actually dead serious about protesting the Democrats.
All of a sudden, Gates’ attitude on the whole thing has changed: “What I discovered when I got into it was it’s a very restrictive law. It doesn’t leave much to the imagination, or a lot of flexibility.” What this actually translates to: Gates had been making declarations about the policy without actually reviewing it.
But that’s not entirely accurate, either.
What we’re actually seeing is the Obama administration, and not just Pentagon leadership, changing course. Gates isn’t making this call on his own; he’s following a very strict, politically orchestrated machine that appears to be slowly shifting direction. And he’s taking orders about how to speak directly from the White House.
So just what did Obama, Gates, and all their senior advisers think about one they “got into it”?
The defense secretary said one possible modification might be consider the circumstances under which a service member is “outed” in determining whether or not he or she must leave the military.
Gates offered as an example “when we’re given information from someone with vengeance in mind or blackmail, somebody who has been jilted.
“If somebody is outed by a third party, does that force us to take action?” he said.
“That’s the kind of thing we’re looking at — seeing if there’s a more humane way to apply the law until it gets changed.”
Notwithstanding that there really is no “humane” way to apply the law — in any form. It is still Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and it is still a policy that forbids gay soldiers from living openly without fear of retribution. Unless, of course, a contingent of gay soldiers can come up with this brilliant plan: EVERYONE OUT EACH OTHER, and then nobody can be kicked out!
UPDATE: CNN speaks with Gates.