Yesterday, during hearings on the State Department’s 2008 budget, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) slammed the U.S. military’s ban on gay servicemembers, saying the Pentagon “seems more afraid of gay people than they are [of] terrorists,” and that if the terrorists were smart, “they’d get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad.” Watch it:
Ackerman’s tongue-in-cheek remarks to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came after noting that Rice had “repeatedly emphasized the importance of recruiting qualified language experts to work in the agency.” Ackerman pointed out that at least 322 language specialists with “some skills in an important foreign language such as Arabic, Farsi and Korean” had been discharged from the military since the ban’s inception in 1993.
Ackerman suggested that Rice hire the linguists who were kicked out of the military for being gay. The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network praised the idea: “Faced with the shortage of language experts, the military would do well to consider Congressman Ackerman’s point. We cannot afford to lose critical personnel because of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
UPDATE: Carpetbagger Report has more.
ACKERMAN: Well, it seems that the military has gone around and fired a whole bunch of people who speak foreign languages — Farsi and Arabic, etc. — after they trained them in their foreign language schools for 63 weeks, and presumably they all pass all kinds of security things, and many of them told on themselves and were fired. For some reason, the military seems more afraid of gay people than they are against terrorists, because they’re very brave with the terrorists. I mean, if the terrorists ever got a hold of this information, they’d get a platoon of lesbians to chase us out of Baghdad. The affirmative suggestiong that I would make is why can’t the State Department look to pick up all those people that were fired from the military because apparently you don’t have a policy, and put these three dozen Farsi and Arabic people to work doing what you’re suggesting would cost a lot of money to train, etc., because we have them. Can we marry up those two — or maybe that’s the wrong word — can we have some kind of union of those two issues, that you might be willing to –
RICE: Congressman, I’m not aware of the availability of people, but I certainly will look at what we are doing right now.