White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs refused to directly condemn the Marine Commandant’s suggestion that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would have the effect of killing Marines in the line of duty, saying simply that the Commandant’s views are “well known.” Earlier today, Gen. James Amos — who has publicly opposed lifting the ban — said in the context of repealing the policy, “I don’t want to lose any Marines to distraction. I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda (hospital) with no legs.”
Pressed by the Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld on whether Obama was worried about having his own appointee “constantly raising opposition to his own stated belief the the policy needed to be changed,” Gibbs simply reiterated the administration’s talking point on the issue:
GIBBS: I think the President’s views and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff’s views and the Secretary of Defense’s views are fairly well known. I think the President as Commander in Chief has a strong viewpoint. I think backed up by the survey conducted by the Pentagon as to the attitude of the men and women in our military that this can be done in a way that strengthens our national security, preserves the best fighting force in the world, and most importantly, does away with a policy that he doesn’t think is just.
ELEVELD: I mean, the Commandant is continually challenging the assumptions of the Commander in Chief…
GIBBS: No, I mean, look, I think their views are very well known, just as the Commander in Chief’s views are very well known. I think if you look at the Commander in Chief, the head of the Pentagon, and the head of the Joint Chiefs, you’ll find unanimity in the belief that it’s time to do away with this policy and that’s exactly what the President is working to do.
Conversely, repeal advocates have strongly condemned Amos’ statement. “General Amos needs to fall in line and salute or resign now,” Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement. “He implied that repeal will lead to Marines losing their legs in combat. Those fear tactics are not in the interest of any service member.” Alexander Nicholson of Servicemebers United also noted that Amos’ comment “reflects very poorly on DOD and on the administration.”