As President Obama met with the Service Chiefs to discuss the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and tomorrow’s release of the Pentagon’s 10-month report into the matter, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs predicted the administration didn’t “anticipate that the release of the report will do anything but strengthen” the legislative case for repeal, but stopped short of saying that Obama would use the report to lobby undecided Senators on the issue.
Gibbs, who also said that the President had seen parts of the DADT report, made the comments in reply to questions from the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson:
GIBBS: I believe the President has seen part of [the report]…I think the President strongly believed that this was an issue that can and should be solved legislatively, encourage the Senate to act legislatively on the Defense Authorization bill and particularly on changing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That’s our position now and I don’t believe the release of the report will do anything but strengthen that case.
While it’s unclear if the report — which has found that the majority of troops don’t oppose repealing the ban — will convince the Chiefs and undecided lawmakers to support repeal, it’s at least reassuring to note that three of the four Chiefs and undecided Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) have praised the review. Navy chief Adm. Gary Roughead and Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz have publicly endorsed the comprehensive nature of the review and Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos — who has expressed concerns about the “risk” of repeal — also predicted that the Pentagon’s review of the policy would inform the military about how best to implement a repeal and allow the Marines Corp to change the policy “smartly.” Webb said, “I can’t remember a study on this type of issue that has been done with this sort of care. Not even having seen it or knowing the results, but I know the preparation that went into it. So it’s going to be a very important study for us to look at and examine.”