Books | Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Ellen Tauscher | Military | News

Military Suppressed Evidence Critical of Gay Ban, Says Author

Earlier today I posted that Rep. Ellen Tauscher would be introducing a bill to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell". I've learned that because of the snow storm that crippled the east coast last night and into today, she'll be formally introducing it on Tuesday.

Unfriendlyfire Tauscher made her announcement today at the Washington D.C. book launch of Nathaniel Frank's new book Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America. Frank, a Senior Research Fellow at the Palm Center at UC Santa Barbara, broke the story of the firing of gay Arabic linguists under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Frank's book is a companion to an upcoming PBS film I recently mentioned called Ask Not which features many of the same soldiers talking about life under the ban. Frank has also launched a web campaign to buy a book for every member of Congress, which you can join on his website.

I asked Frank if I could share some of the findings in his book, which has been lauded by the Servicemember's Legal Defense Network (SLDN), with Towleroad readers, among them that evidence has repeatedly been concealed or suppressed by the military when it concluded there was no rationale for the gay ban.

Here are the book's main points, according to Frank:

 road In behind-the-scenes negotiations about the question of gay service, senior military officers who viewed the gay ban as a moral imperative consulted with military and civilian religious leaders on a dishonest strategy to claim the ban was necessary to preserve “unit cohesion” while minimizing the true religious and cultural basis of their opposition.

 road General Robert Alexander, the first head of the Military Working Group, a panel of generals and admirals that essentially wrote “don’t ask, don’t tell,” acknowledged that its members did not understand what “sexual orientation” meant, and “had to define in the first few sessions what we figured they were talking about.” Alexander admits that the MWG “thought they knew the results of what was going to happen” before they met, and that it was “going to be very difficult to get an objective, rational review” of the policy. “Passion leads and rationale follows,” he says, adding that his group “didn’t have any empirical data” about gay service and the MWG position was based on fear, politics and prejudice.

Continued, AFTER THE JUMP...

 road Sen. Sam Nunn, chief Congressional architect of the ban, reveals that he believes his own policy is now “getting in the way” of military readiness.  Although Nunn said last year that he would support taking “another look” at the policy, his remarks in the book go much further by criticizing the policy as harmful to the military.

 road According to witnesses and activists, Sam Nunn’s hearings about gay service were “rigged” from the start. Judith Stiehm, a professor at Florida International University, found that Professor Charles Moskos, a personal friend of Nunn’s who is credited as the academic architect of the policy, “had already found an agreement” with Nunn before the hearings began. Nunn removed two witnesses when he learned they would oppose the gay ban, retired colonel Lucian Truscott III and former senator Barry Goldwater, and placed a virulently homophobic general on an “academic panel” (he was not an academic).

 road Professor Charles Moskos, chief architect of the policy, admits he defended his policy in part because he worried he would disappoint his friends if he “turncoated.” Moskos also admits in the book that “unit cohesion” is not the real reason he opposed openly gay service; he says “Fuck unit cohesion; I don’t care about that.” Despite rooting his public opposition to openly gay service in unit cohesion, he says the real reason is the “moral right” of straights not to serve with known gays. In fact, Moskos told lawmakers that the principal reason for the gay ban is to repress the homoerotic desire that is an inherent part of military culture. This “homoerotic thesis” explains why “don’t ask, don’t tell” does not bar the presence of homosexuality but the mention of it, and gives the lie to the “unit cohesion” ruse.

 road Admiral William Crowe, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Reagan and Bush I, reversed course and opposed the gay ban last year just before he died. Crowe is only the second JCS chairman to oppose the gay ban.

 road Admiral John Hutson, former JAG of the Navy and a supporter of the gay ban in the internal Navy debates over gay service in 1993, says that senior military officers exaggerated the risks to unit cohesion while minimizing the true religious and cultural basis of their opposition to gay service. He says the Navy brass “declined” to discuss the issue in terms of morality even though moral animus against homosexuality was the real reason they resisted the change. In fact, Hutson, who now opposes “don’t ask, don’t tell,” calls the policy a “moral passing of the buck” because senior military and political leaders tried to blame the supposed intolerance of young recruits for the ban.  None of the Navy officials responsible for helping formulate the policy “had much of a sense of what was going on,” he says, and “decisions were based on nothing. It wasn’t empirical. It wasn’t studied, it was completely visceral, intuitive.” The policy was created entirely “by the seat of our pants”.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. Considering that This Hot Mess got rejected from eHARMONY, I feel as though the army wouldn't want me either.

    Posted by: This Hot Mess | Mar 2, 2009 9:28:38 PM

  2. Hey - on the same topic you may want to check out the February issue of Advances in Human Resource Development - all LGBT and the workplace all the time

    Posted by: kjb | Mar 2, 2009 10:00:30 PM

  3. I'm just so sick of the lies and the subterfuge. The policy was created entirely "by the seat of our pants". I hate these people.

    Posted by: van | Mar 2, 2009 10:14:21 PM

  4. Sam Nunn is a disgrace to the Democratic Party. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is his legacy. He should be brought before Congress to testify and forced to listen to the stories of those whose careers were destroyed due to his complete lack of integrity.

    Posted by: mikey67 | Mar 2, 2009 10:24:33 PM

  5. Good to know the info. This is being nit-picky but I'm not sure that being lauded by the SLDN matters one way or the other. Of course they are going to laud it. It's sort of like some right-wing religious book being lauded by Focus on the Family - kind of a given.
    Glad all the info is coming out though.

    Posted by: Dan | Mar 2, 2009 10:49:57 PM

  6. I am not at all surprised by this. Clinton really screwed us on this one and many others. Hopefully President Obama doesn't follow the same path.

    Posted by: DAN A | Mar 2, 2009 10:58:41 PM

  7. I'm sorry, I missed your post on when the war crimes trials would be starting? Or would they be treason trials?

    Either way, it seems quite a few people conspired to endanger our men and women serving in the armed forces by subtracting valuable troops from the fighting forces.


    Posted by: Derek Washington | Mar 2, 2009 11:18:20 PM

  8. Nein. It is nothing like FOF lauding a book supporting their unethical agenda when SLDN does it. Why? Because the SLDN is on the RIGHT side of the argument, here; and considering that ethics is mere opinion (that is, the self contradictory assertion that there are no moral/ethical truths) there's no way of suggesting otherwise without arguing the merits of each case. Therein is the difference between FOF heralding some piece of unethical propaganda and SLDN endorsing a fact based expose on the failure of ethical reasoning that is responsible for this policy. Whether or not their endorsement matters to those who hold deeply unethical beliefs in the military is another story; a practical matter. Then again, nothing matters to them with regard to DADT other than a policy that reflects their unethical and baseless sexism and homophobia--it's dogma. Neither evidence no reason can penetrate dogma.

    This book couldn't come at a better time in soberly appraising the factless "moral" intuitions of military personnel who have nothing but the seat of their pants to guide them in attempting to act responsibly, and with which they use to inflict their immoral crusade on the largest employer in the united states. The policy, and, specifically, all those who desigend and implemented it reveal a need for moral instruction; that instinct and cultural norms just don't cut it when one is attempting to make a prescriptive judgment. It's repulsive evil to watch an adult act on their unethical beliefs and compound suffering in doing so; it's unjust to allow the moral leanings unsuitable, even, for a playground bully to play a causal role in dictating policy.

    Posted by: TANK | Mar 3, 2009 12:26:05 AM

  9. ETHICS is NOT mere opinion, rather.

    Posted by: TANK | Mar 3, 2009 12:27:02 AM

  10. that is a fucking general saying there is no empirical evidence?! Holy shit! Does he not deal with the generals of other countries that have openly gay service members? There are plenty of US allies that have allowed homosexuals to serve in their military branches; it's not like the USA invented this issue or was unique in considering this topic for the 1st time in modern history. What an idiot.

    Posted by: Daniel | Mar 3, 2009 1:59:14 AM

  11. Not just a general, Daniel---lots of generals have said they disagree with DADT. This is a couple admirals. They're on high rungs of the ladder of the old boy network, and many have changed their minds. They deserve credit and attention.

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 3, 2009 5:53:23 AM

  12. The United States military brass (especially the Air Force Academy) is permeated with fundamentalist Christian adherents who have been called on the carpet more than once for their inflicting their religious views on the corp.
    No doubt that their interpretation of the Bible help to "inform" them of their limited and ignorant beliefs regarding gay men and women in the military.
    The sad part is that so many fine men and women's lives were ruined by superstition, ignorance and neglect.

    Posted by: Nick | Mar 3, 2009 7:09:16 AM

  13. I'm a former JAG and knew people who were involved in implementing DA/DT. I was not, but I have no doubt that what Mr. Frank is saying is true. I believe "Unit Cohesion" was a ruse invented to provide a straight-face argument for court challenges. I do not believe it was ever the real basis for the ban.

    Posted by: sam | Mar 3, 2009 8:43:54 AM

  14. Don't see it mentioned here, but am confidant the book discusses at length that the GREATER crime wasn't their operating in ignorance driven by homohatred but that they CHOSE to ignore [pun intended] not just the Navy's gay positive Crittenden Study that was done nearly 50 years before, and the Pentagon's gay positive PERSEREC studies less than six years old then, but also the most gay positive yet Rand Corporation study that was commissioned by Defense Secty Aspin concurrently with the MWG circle jerk which wasn't a study at all, but an exercise in creating excuses to justify their pre-existing rabies re gays.

    Rand was completed in April of '93 [three months before the phony compromise was announced] and clearly concluded that integrating out gays, if done with LEADERSHIP, would NOT be a problem. While eager to read what Frank discovered in relation to their interaction with it, Aspin did not release it publicly until August when Congress was in recess after the "compromise" tide had sunk all gay-friendly boats.

    Aspin's culpability has been forgotten in pop discussions of the timeline. A memo to HIS BOSS Clinton saying he didn't think they'd succeed was leaked to the press the month Clinton was inaugurated, then Aspin said essentially the same thing on "Face the Nation."

    In the crudest terms, Aspin was the lookout while Moskos held Clinton down and Powell and Nunn took turns raping him...and gay equality ...and the Constitution.

    Despite stories trumpeting he "wants to avoid the same mistakes Clinton made," Obama has already REPEATED the first one: signaling to the Pentagon that they have a say in this, that the tail might be allowed to wag the dog.

    He must remember one of his first statements about DADT [which is just the wine of the old policy in new bottles with a catchy label] during the primaries which echoed, probably unknowingly, the Rand study's conclusion: repealing DADT only requires LEADERSHIP. Then he should:

    1. Remind the Pentagon PUBLICLY that it IS going to happen. No more studies, and "how it's 'working'" is irrelevant.

    2. Ask Congress PUBLICLY, in the same fighting spirit as he has with the stimulus package, WHEN they're going to put a repeal bill on his desk to sign.

    3. Order the military to FREEZE all discharges and investigations until then and begin working with their own EXISTING arm that works to eliminate racial, gender, and religious discrimination in the military through education and mandated equal opportunity/non-discrimination policies to formulate ways to include fighting gay discrimination.

    At one time during his then unprecedented legal fight to be readmitted, someone in the Justice Department was trying to convince the Air Force to hire Leonard Matlovich, who had been an expert Air Force "Race Relations Instructor," as a civilian instructor along the same line re gays. Nothing came of it, but when members of Congress or the Pentagon claims gay integration would create chaos, their likely NEXT excuse, Obama should point to the programs already in existence, already paid for with tax dollars, and say, effectively:

    "Sorry, fellas, I know all about Clinton's trip to the rodeo, and you ain't doing it to me."

    - Michael Bedwell

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Mar 3, 2009 10:27:04 AM

  15. I was kicked out under DADT and I really want to see this ban gone!

    Posted by: Michael R | Mar 4, 2009 7:40:45 AM

  16. I am a heterosexual retired military female. My dad, brothers, brothers and sisters n law served in the military. Currently I have 5 nephews and my daughter in the military. We all have or are serving with gay military members. Our gay comrades served honorably with integrity and courage and we would trust our lived to our gay comrades and give our lives for our gay comrades. The military needs recruits so badly they have lowered the standards and given waivers to rapists and others. My daughter was recently sexually assaulted by a member of her battalion. My daughter must not only go to Iraq in August and fight the enemy; the enemy also wears the same uniform as she does. Over 23 countries have allowed gay people to openly serve. Canada recently ended their gay ban and sexually harassment and assault among females in the military decreased by over 40%. If we allowed gay people to openly serve, we could increase our standards for recruits in one of the most honorable professions in the world and at the same decrease sexual harassment and assault among our female military members. I voted for Obama because of his stand on ending the DADT policy (among other things). I didn't WAIT to vote or WAIT to rally my family and friends to vote for him. I ask Don't WAIT to end the DADT policy.

    Posted by: martina | Apr 5, 2009 8:50:44 PM

Post a comment


« «Arguments Challenging Proposition 8 to Be Heard Thursday« «