ByÂ Joseph Weber-The Washington Times
Lawmakers got their first opportunity Thursday to question topÂ Pentagonofficials on Capitol Hill about the findings of a much-anticipated study released Tuesday, focusing largely on the possible timeline for such a change and its potential impact on military operations, especially on front-line combat units.
Mr. McCain, the ranking Republican on theÂ Senate Armed Services Committee, emerged as the chief critic of the report and Democrats’ efforts to repeal the Clinton-era policy on gays serving openly in the military.
“I am not saying this law should never change,”Â Mr. McCain said. “I am simply saying that it may be premature to make such a change at this time and in this manner.”
But Defense SecretaryÂ Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs ofÂ StaffChairmanÂ Adm. Mike Mullen defended the recommendation and urgedCongress to act and not leave the matter to the courts. Adm.Â Mullenbristled at one point when it was suggested his opinion was less valuable than that of commanders directly dealing with troops.
“You do not have to agree with me on this issue,” Adm.Â Mullen toldÂ Mr. McCain. “But don’t think for one moment that I haven’t carefully considered the impact of the advice I give on those who will have to live with the decisions that advice informs.”
A second day of hearings Friday could produce new drama as the leaders of the four services – theÂ Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy – will testify. The most anticipated testimony Friday will likely be from Marine CommandantÂ James F. Amos, who has openly questioned the call for repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
In pressing for quick congressional action,Â Mr. Gates said a legal decision to end the policy would give military leaders “zero time” to prepare.
To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/dec/2/mccain-balks-at-dont-ask-report/
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