In the Department of Justice’s new motion defending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Assistant Attorney General Tony West — who acts under the auspices of Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama — collected some old case law and talking points to assert Congress “could have rationally found the DADT policy to be necessary to ‘further military effectiveness by maintaining unit cohesion, accommodating personal privacy and reducing sexual tension.'” Among the soundbites he found? Retired Gen. Colin Powell’s 1993 congressional testimony, where he says “[t]o win wars, we create cohesive teams of warriors who will bond so tightly that they are prepared to go into battle and give their lives if necessary for the accomplishment of the mission and for the cohesion of the group and for their individual buddies,” and that “homosexual conduct … involves matters of privacy and human sexuality that, . . . if allowed to exist openly in the military, would affect the cohesion and well-being of the force” and “it would be prejudicial to good order and discipline” to let gays “share the most private facilities together.” Nevermind that Powell has an entirely different world view now — which West did not cite.
Is it kosher for DoJ to cite the educated and informed statements of military officials? Absolutely. But it’s probably worth mentioning to the courts if those people change their minds.