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Saturday, December 4, 2010

"DADT Repeal A Political Promise. System Is Working", McCain Speaks

McCain Says "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Is Working

Arizona Republican U.S. Senator John McCain criticized the Obama administration's decision to try to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prevents gay service members from serving openly in the military, saying Sunday that "the system is working."

"The military is at its highest point in recruitment, in retention, in professionalism, in capability," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union." "So to somehow allege that this policy has been damaging the military is simply false."

Instead, McCain called the attempt at repeal "a political promise made by an inexperienced president or candidate for president of the United States."

His comments come as two top American defense officials are scheduled to head to Capitol Hill this week to discuss a new Pentagon report gauging the effects of repealing the policy.

McCain, who serves as the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee was critical of the report.

"I want to know the effect on battle effectiveness and morale, not on how best to implement the change in policy," McCain told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. "I don't think that's a lot to ask when we have our young men and women out there serving and fighting and tragically some of them dying."

The study will be released Tuesday ahead of the congressional hearings where the committee will hear testimony from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen and the men who led the Pentagon review, Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson and U.S. Army Gen. Carter Ham.

U.S. Generals: Don't Rescind Military Gay Ban

The top uniformed leaders of the United States Air Force, Army and Marine Corps warned Congress on Friday that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" now would hurt the military's ability to fight the war in Afghanistan.

The service chiefs put themselves squarely opposed to their civilian bosses on one of President Barack Obama's top legislative priorities. The testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee was likely to bolster congressional opposition to the change.

"I cannot reconcile, nor turn my back, on the negative perceptions held by our Marines who are most engaged in the hard work of day-to-day operations in Afghanistan," Marine commandant Gen. James Amos said, citing a Pentagon survey that found 58 percent of Marines and 48 percent of Army respondents think lifting the ban would have negative consequences.

"Successfully integrating gays and lesbians into small Marine combat units has strong potential for disruption and will no doubt divert leadership attention away from an almost singular focus of preparing units for combat," Amos said.

Gen. George Casey, chief of staff of the Army, and Gen. Norman Schwarz, Air Force chief of staff, agreed.

"Implementation of the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' would be a major cultural and policy change in the middle of a war," Casey said. "It would be implemented by a force and leaders that are already stretched by the cumulative impacts of almost a decade at war."

Republican opponents of repeal said the Joint Chiefs' testimony confirmed their argument that lifting the ban would have negative consequences for the military.

"I will not agree to have this bill go forward, and neither will, I believe, 41 of my colleagues, either, because our economy is in the tank," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee. "Our economy is in the tank, and the American people want that issue addressed."

Even the heads of the Navy and Coast Guard, who said they favor repealing the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, warned that the change must be undertaken cautiously.

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Sources: CNN, Fox News, Huffington Post, McClatchy Newspapers, PBS, Youtube, Google Maps

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