Thursday, July 08, 2010

DADT troop survey a mess; asks about sharing showers. Lead gay group warns gay troops about participating in survey at all.

John Aravosis, The repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was thrown into further doubt today when details of the Obama administration's survey of US service members was leaked to the media.

It's bad enough that the Commander in Chief is asking his subordinates what they think of his order to integrate the troops (imagine a Republican president asking the troops for permission to issue an order). But now we learn that the survey has been so botched by the Obama administration that the lead gay group on lifting the ban, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, is warning gay service members about taking the survey at all.

What's more, in contrast to repeated assurances from the White House, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the survey is not simply about "how" to implement the repeal of DADT, it is also about "whether" to repeal at all. A full one-third of the survey is devoted to the titillating, and irrelevant, issues of showers, bathrooms, sleeping arrangements, and whether repeal will hurt morale and cohesion.

And to top it off, the lead gay civil rights group working on the issue has been cut out of the process (again) by the Obama administration.
Late last week, SLDN asked the Department of Defense and the Pentagon Working Group for the text of the surveys, more information on possible certificates of confidentiality, and whether DOD or PWG could guarantee immunity from DADT and other armed services rules and regulations for service members who are inadvertently "outed" by the surveys. The Department of Defense was unable to satisfy our request.

One could understand why George Bush's Pentagon would want to cut a civil rights group out of the process, but Barack Obama's? A man who promised to be the gay community's fierce advocate, and a man who recently bragged at the G-20 summit about how he kept his promise to repeal DADT (when it hasn't been repealed, and the law currently being debated does not repeal it at all)? Why is President Obama cutting the lead gay civil rights group on this issue out of the process? And make no mistake, this is all about President Obama. He is after all the commander in chief of the US military. He issues the orders, the Pentagon works for him.

As a result of the Obama administration cutting SLDN out, the administration screwed up the survey. There is no guarantee for gay servicemembers taking the survey that the survey results won't be used to out them, thus destroying their careers. Kind of an obvious point.

While the surveys are apparently designed to protect the individual's privacy, there is no guarantee of privacy and DOD has not agreed to provide immunity to service members whose privacy may be inadvertently violated or who inadvertently outs himself or herself. So if by taking the survey you out yourself, tough luck.
This is no small point. If the survey that is the entire basis of the decision how (and now apparently if) to repeal DADT is screwed up, then the entire implementation of the repeal (if it even ever happens) is going to be screwed up. The Obama administration has just put the entire repeal of DADT in jeopardy.

What genius came up with this screwed up process? White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, or the self-appointed leader of the gay community, who has personally claimed credit for the entire DADT compromise, the Center for American Progress' Winnie Stachelberg? If this thing gets screwed up - and it already is - and we do not see a full 100% repeal of DADT next year, if we are still discussing separate-but-equal options about segregated showers and barracks in 2011 (while the Pentagon continues to discharge gay troops and the Dept of Justice continues to defend DADT in court), Messina and Stachelberg are going to have to explain to the President why his pissed off that he never seems to be able to keep his word.

We were promised a fierce advocate. This is bullshit.

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