Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has agreed to move up the release date of the Pentagon’s study of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by one day — from Wednesday December 1st to Tuesday, November 30, Defense Department spokesperson Geoff Morrell said in a statement emailed to reporters tonight. Politico’s Josh Gerstein has Morrell’s statement:
“Secretary Gates is pushing all involved in the Comprehensive Review Working Group’s report to have it ready for public release on November 30th in order to accommodate the desire of the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings as soon as possible.” [...]
“Frankly, December 1st was already an aggressive deadline by which to complete the report, incorporate the views of service secretaries and chiefs and for the Secretary to make a recommendation on the way ahead, but he has further compressed the timeline in order to support Congress’ wish to consider repeal before they adjourn,” Morell wrote. “Now, the Secretary has instructed his staff, without cutting any corners, to have everything ready a day sooner because he wants to ensure members of the Armed Services Committee are able to read and consider the complex, lengthy report before holding hearings with its authors and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
Last week, hoping to ensure that repeal can be passed during the lame duck session, Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) sent a letter to Gates asking the Secretary to release the study as soon as possible. “Given the limited amount of time remaining in the 111th Congress, the soonest possible release of the working group’s report could therefore be instrumental in allowing the defense bill to move forward,” they wrote.
But until tonight, the Pentagon has argued that it was already operating on an expedited timeline and wouldn’t release the study before the first of the month. “We have compressed that timeline such that we are now operating on parallel tracks. Not only is the draft report still being finalized, but we are also doing the internal work that would have taken place after December 1st simultaneously so that we can, on December the 1, not just release the report but the Secretary can state where he wants to take us with regards to this measure,” Morrell said in his press conference on Thursday. He also assured reporters, “Congress will see this report on December the 1, not before December the 1. So don’t go camped out on the Hill, it’s not going to be worth your while.”
A leak to the Washington Post from two sources who have seen a copy of the study have said that more than “70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) is expected to hold hearings on the report during the “first days of December.”