The Obama administration Thursday evening asked a federal appeals court in California to reconsider its order last week temporarily blocking the U.S. military from enforcing its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays and lesbians serving in the military.
…not least because, CNN’s spin to the contrary, there is something more going on here than how the LA Times categorized it:
The Justice Department argued that the government wants to stick with the timetable set in last year’s congressional action to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.” It provides a grace period for retraining to integrate gay service members, and a 60-day evaluation to certify that the change won’t hurt military readiness.
You see, what CNN and the LA Times aren’t mentioning is that the process is a checklist, not a timetable. If you actually read the law (it’s only three pages), you’ll see that first the military has to come up with a report – a long, complex, comprehensive report – addressing specific issues, including current court cases involving DADT. Then the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the JCS have to think about that report. Then they have to come up with policies that will let them implement DADT repeal. Then they have to make sure that it won’t hurt military effectiveness. Then they have to send Congress a note saying that they’ve done all of this. Only then will the sixty day clock starts running.
All of which would be fine… if you think that the administration is actually interested in doing anything like that. The fact that it’s seven months and counting without certification* suggests powerfully that they do not. There may in fact be groups inside the government that are attempting to run out the clock on this; certainly there’s not more clamor to get a move on with true DADT repeal, more’s the pity.
By the way: if you’re grinning about the fact that all of this is effectively scuppering a policy change that you disagree with, go ahead and grin. It’s a free country, and there’s a long tradition of politicians indulging in shenanigans of this sort. Just remember: when he can, President Obama just as enthusiastically uses this tactic to circumvent inconvenient laws and restrictions that you do like.
Feel free to meditate on that the next time you’re gassing up your car.
*I’d like to note here that the claim that certification is mere ‘weeks’ away should be evaluated in light of the minor detail that our Libyan adventure shows that the term ‘weeks’ means something completely different to a member of the government than it does to people like you or me.