Media Spins 'Pentagon' Support for Gays in the Military

It doesn’t take much to get the major liberal media excited about imagined “progress” for the Gays in the Military Campaign (GIMC, for short). Witness the Boston Globe’s September 30 report that the Joint Forces Quarterly (JFQ), a magazine associated with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had published an Air Force officer’s article promoting gays in the military.  
With misleading headlines, “Pentagon Airs Criticism of ‘Don’t Ask’” and “Journal Article Backs Gay Troops; May Signal Brass Open to Debate,” the Globe set off a media spin cycle lasting several days. The New York Times suggested that the article may reflect the views of Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, whose name appeared in the same sentence with an excerpt.  Several paragraphs down, however, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell commented that the author was “an individual writing in a personal capacity for an academic journal.”

The spun-up news really was no news.  It turns out that Col. Om Prakash, author of the JFQ article titled “The Efficacy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’,” had won an annual writing competition as a student at the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, D.C.  The contest offered two standard prizes: a generous gift certificate for, and automatic publication of the winning article in the Joint Forces Quarterly. A prominent disclaimer in JFQ indicated that the articles therein were “the opinions, conclusions, and recommendations” of the contributors only and did “not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense…”  

Stars & Stripes reported that Capt. John Kirby, Adm. Mullen’s spokesman, “quickly downplayed the significance of the article, saying the chairman does not approve articles for the magazine.”  Despite the repeated denials, major media hyped the story as a perceived “breakthrough” and sign of “shifting winds” favoring legislation to repeal the 1993 Eligibility Law.  

Essay contest winner Om Prakash is entitled to his opinions, but his JFQ article showed little evidence of serious research beyond the usual polemics produced by the California-based Michael D. Palm Center and other homosexualist groups promoting gays in the military.  

The contest judges should have recognized an obvious error — Prakash’s use of the “colloquial” but inaccurate label “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Law.”  There is no such “law,” but there is an administrative policy known by that catch-phrase, which Bill Clinton imposed on the military even though it is inconsistent with the statute actually passed by Congress.  

Prakash’s discussion of “sexual orientation” did not mention that Congress could not define the phrase and therefore excluded it from the actual statute, Section 654, Title 10, U.S.C.  Under the 1993 Eligibility Law, upheld by federal courts several times, homosexuals are among several groups of people that are not eligible to serve in the military.  

Author Prakash cited a “Blue Ribbon Commission” as a reliable source for estimates of costs associated with discharges of homosexuals.  He failed to mention that the group was chaired by Aaron Belkin, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, which subsequently changed its name to the Michael D. Palm Center.  He also forgot to mention that in 2006 the Comptroller General responded to the Belkin Blue Ribbon Commission’s allegations that GAO estimates were too small, sending a forceful letter to Sen. Ted Kennedy that “stood by” GAO’s numbers.  

Prakash’s complaints about the “costs” of discharges due to homosexuality did not mention that far more losses occur due to pregnancy or weight standard violations.  As shown in a new CMR Policy Analysis (pdf), discharges for homosexuality consistently have been less than 1%, and those could have been avoided if Bill Clinton’s administrative DADT policy had been dropped years ago.

Claiming military support for repealing the law, Col. Prakash relied on a 2006 Zogby Poll.  Left unsaid: the Palm Center paid for that Zogby survey, and did not publicize findings that were not helpful to their cause.  Prakash also overlooked the annual Military Times Poll, which showed strong (58%) support for current law among military subscriber/respondents, four years in a row.  

Turning to a discussion of foreign nations, Prakash ignored potential adversaries and focused on a minority of 200 nations that accept gays in their militaries. He failed to mention that some of those 25 countries conscript personnel for non-deployable or civilian positions, and none of them bear the same long-term burdens as America’s military. Not one has implemented the extreme gay agenda being demanded for our forces, which are role models for the world, not the other way around.
Col. Prakash’s admission that some units would become “dysfunctional” if the law is repealed was candid and truthful, but he did not justify that cost in terms of personnel disruptions, operational distractions, or defense dollars.  He offered no plan or explanation of how “upgraded” facilities separating at least four different gender and “sexual orientation” groups would work in close quarters; i.e., infantry battalions and submarines. In fact, the article did not point to a single way that repeal of the 1993 law would benefit or improve the All-Volunteer Force.

The White House reportedly hopes that the artificially inflated essay contest winner published in the Joint Chiefs’ JFQ magazine will convince Congress that “the Pentagon” supports the gay cause.  Anyone who buys that probably believes that silver flying saucers are buzzing Colorado.


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