DADT repeal — eventually

DADT REPEAL — EVENTUALLY…. National Security Adviser James Jones appeared on CNN yesterday and was asked about the president’s intention to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I saw one account that reported Jones said DADT will remain in place “until Iraq and Afghan wars finished” and perhaps longer “if there are more wars.”

That sounded pretty awful, but a closer look at the transcript shows Jones’ response, while discouraging, wasn’t nearly that bad. CNN’s John King asked the NSA whether it’s time to change the policy. This was their exchange, according to the network transcript:

JONES: The president has an awful lot on his desk. I know this is an issue that he intends to take on at the appropriate time. And he has already signaled that to the Defense Department. The Defense Department is doing the things it has to do to prepare, but at the right time, I’m sure the president will take it on.

KING: No idea when the right time is?

JONES: I don’t think it’s going to be — it’s not years, but I think — I think it will be teed up appropriately.

At that point, the discussion shifted to another topic, so this was the totality of the remarks on DADT. Fortunately, there was nothing about waiting until the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan are over, and nothing about delaying the process further pending additional deployments.

That said, Jones’ answer didn’t exactly signal an imminent shift, either. I’m glad the Pentagon is preparing for a change in policy, and I’m glad it won’t take “years” to get this done. Nevertheless, the “right time” was quite a while ago. The sooner its “teed up” the better.

The larger context offers reason for some optimism. The article in the Joint Force Quarterly pointed to a meaningful shift in the armed forces; Senate Democrats continue to express interest in dropping DADT; and in the House, Rep. Patrick Murphy’s (D-Pa.) H.R. 1283 has 176 co-sponsors. With this in mind, Jones’ comments about the Pentagon taking steps to implement the change are, if nothing else, a reminder that DADT’s days are numbered.

There is, however, no time like the present.