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Former Joint Chiefs Chair General John Shalikashvili Fires Back at Service Chiefs Letter on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'


Former Joint Chiefs Chairman General John Shalikashvili fired back at a letter from the Service Chiefs that was being circulated by Senator John McCain earlier today which urged congressmen to delay a vote on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" until after the military had completed its assessment.

Shalikashvili Wrote Shalikashvili: "While I fully agree that Congress should take no action that usurps the Pentagon's evaluation process and recommendations, there is nothing in those letters that gives Congress any reason to delay enacting the legislative compromise that was proposed this week. The legislative compromise fully and affirmatively respects the Working Group process."

The letter concludes, "it is not only preferable, but essential, that [Don't Ask, Don't Tell] be repealed in order for the Service Chiefs to retain the very authority the requeire to do their jobs effectively."

You may recall that Shalikashvili publicly lobbied for the repeal now, implement later plan in an editorial in Saturday's Washington Post.

In related news, veterans Walker Burtschell, Eric Alva, John Affuso, Larry Baxley, Jarrod Chlapowski, and Mike Almy, who are involved in HRC's Voices of Honor campaign, delivered more than 20,000 postcards calling for repeal to Capitol Hill. Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, joined them at a press conference.

Watch it , AFTER THE JUMP...


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Paper: 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Vote This Week 'Too Close to Call'

This is "do or die" week for repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Washington Post weighs in on where we're at:


The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to vote by the end of the week on an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that would end "don't ask, don't tell," which Congress passed in 1993. Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) favors a repeal, but it is unclear whether he has enough votes, with six senators on the panel considered undecided, legislative sources said.

The House is expected to vote on a similar measure this week, based on a repeal proposal sponsored by Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.), an Iraq war veteran. The House Armed Services Committee declined to act on Murphy's bill in passing its version of the defense spending measure last week, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has told gay advocacy groups that she will allow a floor vote if there is enough support in favor of a repeal.

"This is our 'all hands on deck' moment," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which represents gays who have been drummed out of the armed forces. "For repeal to succeed, it is critical that all proponents for full repeal weigh in now, including the White House. We are only a few days away from this historic vote."

Shalikashvili Former Chair of the Joint Chiefs John Shalikashvili wrote an editorial in Saturday's Washington Post advising Congress to repeal DADT now, and let the Pentagon act later.

Writes Shalikashvili: "'Don't ask, don't tell' is both a federal law and a Pentagon policy. The law ties the military's hands on this issue. If Congress fails to repeal it, the Pentagon's study process will be compromised because the Defense Department will not have the authority to implement its own recommendations. Fortunately, there is an option that fully respects the secretary's request to Congress while moving forward on a reasonable timetable. Congress could repeal the federal statute and return authority to the military to set rules about gay troops, just as the armed services had before "don't ask, don't tell" became law in 1993."

A NYT editorial on Friday offered similar advice.

Former Joint Chiefs Chair Shalikashvili Repeats Call for End to DADT

Repeating much of the sentiment expressed in a January 2007 New York Times op-ed piece, Former General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili today released a statement through Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) office calling for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

Joint Says Shalikashvili:  “Studies have shown that three-quarters of service members say they are personally comfortable around gays and lesbians. Two-thirds say they already know or suspect gay people in their units. This raises important questions about the assertion that openly gay service would impair the military. In fact, it shows that gays and lesbians in the military have already been accepted by the average soldier. Additionally, at least twenty-five foreign militaries now let gays serve openly, including our closest ally, Britain. Although we lead rather than follow these militaries, there is no evidence suggesting that our troops cannot effectively carry out the same policy change as those nations did...As a nation built on the principal of equality, we should recognize and welcome change that will build a stronger more cohesive military. It is time to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow our military leaders to create policy that holds our service members to a single standard of conduct and discipline."

Added Gillibrand: “The military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy is an unjust, outdated and harmful rule that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women. I’ve been working with my colleagues in Congress and other leaders to overturn this wasteful and destructive policy. I am hopeful that President Obama will make this a top priority.”

Read Shalikashvili's full statement, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Former General Shalikashvili: Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Former General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili agrees with a recent Zogby poll that says American servicemembers are ready to serve alongside openly gay members of the military.

JohnshalikashviliIn a New York Times op-ed, Shalikashvili has called for a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell":

"I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is willing and able to do the job."

According to the Zogby poll, "More than half (55%) of the troops who know a gay peer said the presence of gays or lesbians in their unit is well known by others." Shalikashvili feels that the time is right (unlike when Clinton considered it in the 90's) to reconsider the ban on gay troops but says it's prudent not to let it distract from developing a more effective U.S. strategy in Iraq.

As for that new strategy, Bush appears to be on the verge of announcing an increase in troops to the region as part of his new plan: "Its central theme will be sacrifice."

Do the deaths of 3,000 troops not represent enough sacrifice?

The American public does not support an increase in troop levels, and neither do many Republicans, according to reports. Unfortunately for Bush, a Democratic majority in Congress may mean he'll have to sacrifice a few of his ridiculous ideas.


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