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John McCain on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

"Has this policy been ideal? No, it has not. But it has been effective."

12:28 PM, Feb 2, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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At the ongoing Senate hearing on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" John McCain defended the policy in his opening remarks. After thanking the service of all Americans in the military, he cited the findings made by Congress when the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was implemented in 1993:

First, Congress found in the law that the military’s mission to prepare for and conduct combat operations requires servicemen and women to accept living and working conditions that are often spartan and characterized by forced intimacy with little or no privacy.  Second, the law finds that civilian life is fundamentally different from military life, which is characterized by its own laws, rules, customs, and traditions, including many restrictions on personal conduct that would not be tolerated in civil society.  Finally, the law finds that the essence of military capability is good order and unit cohesion, and that any practice which puts those goals at unacceptable risk can be restricted.  These findings were the foundation of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I am eager to hear from our distinguished witnesses what has changed since these findings were written such that the law they supported can now be repealed.

“Has this policy been ideal?  No, it has not.  But it has been effective.  It has helped to balance a potentially disruptive tension between the desires of a minority and the broader interests of our all-volunteer force. 

Read his full remarks after the jump:

“Thank you, Chairman Levin.  And let me thank our two distinguished witnesses, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, for joining us again today.


“We meet this afternoon to consider the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy – a policy that the President has made clear, most recently last week in his State of the Union address, that he wants Congress to repeal.  This would be a substantial and controversial change to a policy that has been successful for two decades.  It would also present yet another challenge to our military at a time of already tremendous stress and strain.  Our men and women in uniform are fighting two wars, guarding the frontlines against a global terrorist enemy, serving and sacrificing on battlefields far from home, and working to rebuild and reform the force after more than eight years of conflict.  At this moment of immense hardship for our armed services, we should not be seeking to overturn the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.


“I want to make one thing perfectly clear upfront: I am enormously proud of, and thankful for, every American who chooses to put on the uniform of our nation and serve at this time of war.  I want to encourage more of our fellow citizens to serve, and to open up opportunities to do so. Many gay and lesbian Americans are serving admirably in our armed forces – even giving their lives so that we and others can know the blessings of peace.  I honor their sacrifice, and I honor them.


“Our challenge is how to continue welcoming this service amid the vast complexities of the largest, most expensive, most well-regarded, and most critical institution in our nation: our armed forces.  This is an extremely difficult issue, and the Senate vigorously debated it in 1993.  We heard from the senior uniformed and civilian leaders of our military on eight occasions in this committee alone.  When Congress ultimately wrote the law, we included important findings that did justice to the seriousness of the subject.  I would ask, without objection, Mr. Chairman, that a copy of the statute, including those findings, be included in the record. 


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