Looking for DADT ‘flexibility’

LOOKING FOR DADT ‘FLEXIBILITY’…. At this point, the Obama administration supports repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and will sign a repeal into law if Congress passes one.

Of course, this issue isn’t exactly on the front burner on the Hill right now. Is there anything the administration can do in the meantime? Apparently, officials are exploring possibilities.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates … says he is now looking at ways to make the ban “more humane” including letting people serve who may have been outed due to vengeance or a jilted lover. The remarks were made in a transcript released Tuesday by the Pentagon.

In addition, Capt. John Kirby, spokesman for Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday the chairman “supports the idea of a less draconian way of enforcing the policy.”

Gates told reporters traveling with him, “One of the things we’re looking at — is there flexibility in how we apply this law?”

The Pentagon chief specifically pointed to a scenario in which a serviceman or woman is “outed” by “somebody who may have vengeance in mind or blackmail or somebody who has been jilted.” In other words, in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” framework, the serviceman or woman didn’t actually “tell” the military anything. Under current law, the Pentagon acts on these complaints. Gates, under these circumstances, doesn’t necessarily want to act, and is wondering whether the law offers “flexibility.”

As far as I can tell from the reports, this isn’t being talked about as an alternative to a DADT repeal, but rather, as an interim solution until there’s legislative action.

The Defense Secretary added, “If somebody is outed by a third party … does that force us to take an action? And I don’t know the answer to that, and I don’t want to pretend to.”

The sooner officials can figure it out, the better. The Hill reported, “[M]ore than 250 gay and lesbian service members have been discharged under the law since Obama took office January 20.”