This afternoon, immediately after the Senate failed to invoke cloture on a defense authorization measure which included an amendment to gradually repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a group of journalists met with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to discuss the vote. Pressed by The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld and Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner about instances when the military actively sought to out gay troops, McCain grew defiant and insisted that the military does not “go out and seek to find out if someone’s sexual orientation”:
MCCAIN: We do not go out and seek. Regulations are, we do not go out and seek to find out if someone’s sexual orientation. We do not!
ELEVELD: But senator, that’s not…
MCCAIN: That is the fact! That is the fact. Now ma’am, I know the military very well, and I know what’s being done. And what is being done is that they are not seeking out people who are gay. And I don’t care what you say, I know it’s a fact.
ELEVELD: It’s not what I say.
MCCAIN: I dont’ care what you say! And I don’t care what others say. I’ve seen it in action. I’ve seen it in action. I have sons in the military, I know the military very well. So they’re not telling you the truth.
ELEVELD: Senator, just to make sure…
MCCAIN: Just to make sure. We do not go out and seek out and find out….
ELEVELD: Private emails are not being searched? Private emails are not being searched?
MCCAIN: …See if someone is gay or not. We do not go out and see whether someone is gay or not.
ELEVELD: There are documented cases…
MCCAIN: They do not, they do not, they do not. You can say that they are, you can say [inaudible] it’s not true!… Yea, I’d like to see…
GEIDNER: It is the case of Mike Almy, Senators.
MCCAIN: Bring them to our office. It is not the policy, it is not the policy, it is not the policy.
GEIDNER: But it is the case that it’s happening, Senator.
MCCAIN: It is not the policy, it is not the policy, it is not the policy You can say that it is the policy, sir if you choose to. It is not the policy. I would be glad to get that to you in writing.
While the Defense Department did adopt higher standards for discharging gay and lesbian soldiers in March, the military has dismissed servicemembers after discovering their sexual orientation in email records. For instance, Major Mike Almy — a 13-year veteran of the Air Force — was relieved of his duties after a routine search of computer files uncovered emails to his same-sex partner.
In fact, as Almy explained in testimoney before McCain’s own committee (Senate Armed Services): “In Iraq, during the height of the insurgency, someone in the Air Force ordered a search of my private emails solely to determine if I had violated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and to gather whatever evidence could be used against me.” “I was relieved of my duties, leading nearly 200 Airmen, my security clearance was suspended and part of my pay was terminated. Even as my commander was relieving me of my duties, he assured me this was in no way a reflection of my performance or my abilities as an officer,” Almy testified.