View From the Hill
BY Kerry Eleveld
May 15 2009 12:00 AM ET
"In a counterinsurgency you do focus on the human beings -- the human terrain is key terrain," he said. "You usually talk about key terrain in terms of geography or something tangible like that. But no, the fighting force is made up of humans, it's made up of people, and every human being and all their capabilities -- it all counts."
It was my first opportunity to meet Lieutenant Choi, who was even more impressive in person than in his already impressive media appearances. He told me that his extended media tour, with segments on CNN and MSNBC among many others, has not been easy, but that it's all been made worthwhile by the e-mails he receives from deployed soldiers who say his very existence and his battle to end the gay ban has given them hope to carry on.
"There are two people that e-mailed me from Iraq -- they're deployed right now -- and they were saying that they didn't know if they wanted to live anymore until they found out that West Point graduates are coming out," he said. "Any chance that I get, I want to tell everybody that those soldiers are honorable people. They don't hear that enough, and in fact they get the wrong message, especially with all the discharges."â€¨
Choi is a soldier's soldier, in the same sense that I think of Gen. Colin Powell being a soldier's soldier. In perfect keeping with the famous West Point mantra, "Duty, Honor, Country," the only thing separating Choi's loyalty to duty and country is his loyalty to honor. He clearly did not believe lying about his identity was honorable.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, for his part, this week was being pressed by the press on the president's failure to end the discharges. He parried that changing the policy would "require more than the snapping of one's fingers."
"To get fundamental reform in this instance â€¨requires a legislative vehicle. The president made a promise to change this policy; he will work with the Joints Chiefs of Staff, â€¨the administration, and with Congress to ensure that we have a policy â€¨that works for our national interests," Gibbs said Tuesday.