Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, repeated to Christiane Amanpour his personal belief that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy should be repealed, but he declined to discuss specifics until the Pentagon study, due by December 1, is completed.
Mullen, the highest ranking member of the military, told the host of This Week on ABC News that the policy “belies” the military by forcing its members to lie about who they are. He also discussed his concern that Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, recently criticized repeal prospects in public while the study was unfinished. Mullen said he believes that repeal is best accomplished through the legislature and not the courts.
The transcript of their conversation about "don't ask, don't tell" follows. Watch the video beginning around the 4:40 mark.
AMANPOUR: "Don't ask/don't tell," something that's hugely important right now. A draft report has come to you; some 70 percent of the military say that it will either have a beneficial or nonexistent effect. Do you think it needs to be voted on in this lame-duck session?
MULLEN: Well, I won't speak to what the draft report says. We'll have this report done here...
AMANPOUR: Do you think...
MULLEN: ... and to Secretary Gates in the next couple of weeks, by December 1st, and I won't make any comments on where I think we need to go until that report is done.
AMANPOUR: You support it, though, repealing "don't ask/don't tell"?
MULLEN: From my personal perspective, absolutely.
MULLEN: Because I think it -- it belies us as an institution. We value integrity as an institution.
AMANPOUR: You mean forcing them to lie about what they are?
MULLEN: And then -- and then asking individuals to come in and lie about who they are every day goes counter to who we are as an institution.
AMANPOUR: Apart from the integrity issue, many of your allies -- whether it be England or Canada or France or Australia, the Israeli army -- they have openly gay service members in their military with no adverse effects.
MULLEN: Certainly. I've seen that, and that is very much a part of this review, and we'll incorporate that into the review and recommendations which go up the chain.
AMANPOUR: So were you angry with the new Marine commandant when he cast his own doubts over this and criticized it?
MULLEN: He had made his position very clear in testimony. What concerned me about his most recent comments, it came at a time where we actually had the draft report in hand, and we had all agreed that we would speak to this privately until we completed the report and made our recommendations up the chain.
AMANPOUR: And if it does not get voted on in the lame-duck session, is there any chance that it will come up in any reasonable time period afterwards?
MULLEN: Well, I mean, it's very hard to predict what's going to happen. Obviously, from a legislative...
AMANPOUR: But would you think it will put it down the road?
MULLEN: ... from a legislative perspective. The other piece that is out there that's very real is the courts are very active on this. And my concern is that at some point in time the courts could change this law and in that not give us the right amount of time to implement it. I think it's much better done -- if it's going to get done, it's much better done through legislature than it is out of the courts.