Late last month, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House of Representatives approved identical amendments to the Defense Authorization bill that would begin the process of repealing the Don’t Ask, Dont’ Tell policy. Under the agreement, repeal would not occur unless President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen certified the Pentagon’s on-going review to ensure that repeal did not undermine military effectiveness.
On Saturday, during a town hall in Queen Creek, Arizona, a DADT repeal activist confronted Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) about his pledge to filibuster the entire defense authorization measure if it included the DADT repeal amendment. McCain first claimed that he opposed the measure because it repealed DADT without permitting the Pentagon to finish their study of the policy:
MCCAIN ANSWER 1: I have a big problem with repealing a piece of legislation, that’s the law, without assessing and surveying the effects on the ground, battle effectiveness, recruiting and retention of men and women in the military. I have a big problem with it.
But when the activist explained that the military and the President would have to certify the study, McCain acknowledged the existence of an assesment, but complained that it excluded the service chiefs. Still, he erroneously insisted that the study would occur only after the policy was repealed:
MCCAIN ANSWER 2: It does not include the four service chiefs….it does not sir. I’ll show it to you in writing. It cuts out the service chiefs. It says the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall make that decision and the repeal would take place and then the assessment would take place.
The activist on the video notes that at the end of his answer, McCain called on his own staff member to change the subject to immigration. But with his mind still on DADT, he doubled down on his fictitious characterization of the amendment and said, “Sir, if you give me an email address, I will send you the text of the legislation that was passed in the Senate Armed Services Committee this afternoon.” The activist responded by saying that McCain’s office already had his email address, since he had been arrested for protesting DADT outside of the Senator’s Phoenix office.
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