Tuesday, August 04, 2009

As Fehrenbach awaits discharge under DADT, there's no White House action and still no Senate bill

The Washington Post has a profile today on Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, who is about to be discharged because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Fehrenbach didn't tell. He was outed. And, he trusted that Obama would follow through on his campaign promise to end DADT:
After investigating, the Air Force charged him last September with damaging its good order and discipline. The "don't ask, don't tell" law, passed by Congress in 1993, prohibits gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.
Fehrenbach, who has nine Air Medals, including one for heroism under fire during an enemy ambush near Baghdad in 2003, intended to resign. But he changed his mind last fall with the prospect of a Barack Obama presidency.
As a candidate, Obama promised that the law would be overturned, but the administration has moved cautiously, not wanting to wage a costly political battle on the divisive issue during the president's first months in office, as President Bill Clinton did.
"Hearing the president's promises last fall, I thought he would follow through," Fehrenbach said. "It's just been disappointing because we've seen nothing."
In April, a review board ruled against Fehrenbach, and unless Air Force Secretary Michael Donley rejects the recommendation, he will be dismissed. If he is unable to retire with 20 years of service, Fehrenbach will lose nearly $50,000 a year in retirement pay as well as medical benefits. More disappointing, Fehrenbach said, is being unable to serve the country in a time of war.
"It doesn't make sense to throw out someone who's ready, willing and able," he said.
It doesn't make sense. And, what also doesn't make sense is the failure of Barack Obama to take any action to end the policy. On this issue, we have a complete failure of leadership. Obama does have the authority to stop discharges under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But, he hasn't. And, from every bit of info. I can gather, the White House staffers have done nothing to encourage action on Capitol Hill. When Obama wants something from Congress, people on the Hill know it. On this one, nothing.
Meanwhile, Rep. Patrick Murphy now has 168 co-sponsors for his legislation to repeal DADT. There isn't even a Senate bill yet, although we've been told there will be hearings on DADT. The Majority Leader said he supports repeal. Lots of Senators do. But, there's still no legislation.
And, note to everyone: During the campaign, Obama promised to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Repeal, not change. Anything short of repeal isn't change we can believe in.

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