On the Eve of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Hearings, a Few Updates
Some notes on the eve of the Pentagon's "major announcement" and initiation of hearings to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell':
The AP reports that fewer troops were discharged under the failed policy last year: "The Defense Department last year dismissed the fewest number of service members for violating its 'don't ask, don't tell policy' than it had in more than a decade. The 2009 figure, a sharp decline from the previous year, comes from President Barack Obama's first year in office...The lower number continues a trend since 2001 in which fewer troops have been dismissed as the services struggle to fight two wars.
Members of the Joint Chiefs held a meeting today to discuss the beginning of the repeal: "The closed-door meeting is considered exceptionally sensitive, the sources say, because the chiefs -- each of whom heads a military service -- are said to be concerned that changing the policy would be too disruptive to military forces."
Repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy does not appear in the fiscal year 2011 budget package.
Firedoglake reports: "On a conference call just now, OMB Deputy Director Rob Nabors said that DADT 'does not have a budgetary impact,' and is therefore not addressed in this budget. However, he said, the President will have a lot to say about repealing the policy in the coming weeks. In general, he didn’t want gay rights advocates to read anything into the issue."
The blog notes, however: "A University of California study showed that discharging gay service members cost the government $363 million dollars over a ten year period from 1994-2003."
John Aravosis at Americablog asked OMB Director Peter Orszag why it wasn't in the budget, and he said that the amount was so small it amounts to a "rounding error".
Aravosis notes: "First off, we shouldn't have to ask the Department of Defense why the President's expressed policy of repealing DADT is not in their budget submission to Congress. Of course, given their druthers, DOD wouldn't put the repeal in their budget ever. They've been trying to undercut the President's promise from day one. The question is why the President didn't overrule the people who work for him over at the Pentagon and included the repeal in the budget. As for DADT being a 'rounding error,' if it were so insignificant a policy, the President would just do it, and the Defense Department wouldn't be bordering on rank insubordination in their ongoing efforts to stop it."
Finally, David Mixner says "shame on John McCain" for leading the charge against the repeal.