If armed forces history is any guide, the opposition to repealing "don't ask, don't tell" coming from some lawmakers and military leaders may overstate any potential negative impact in ending the policy, the Pentagon's top attorney said.
In an interview with The New York Times,Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department's general counsel and coauthor of the Pentagon study on "don't ask, don't tell" released last week, recalled his own family history in the military's integration of African-American service members in the 1940s. His uncle, Robert B. Johnson, was an airmen arrested as part of the Freeman Field Mutiny and imprisoned in 1945 for entering an all-white officers' club in Indiana.
Three years later President Harry S. Truman integrated the military by executive order, despite opposition running as high as 80% during the 1940s.
"The lesson to be drawn from that," Johnson said, "is that very often the predictions about what is going to happen overestimate the negative consequences and underestimate the military's ability to adapt."