Politics

Bill Clinton: Blame Colin Powell for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

| by Reason Foundation

By Michael C. Moynihan

Buck-passing former President Bill Clinton blames his former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell for "misrepresenting" the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy:

Former President Bill Clinton said that Colin Powell, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during his administration, misrepresented how Don't Ask, Don't Tell would work as the legislation was being passed into law in 1993.

In an interview Tuesday, Clinton told CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric that he didn't choose the Don't Ask, Don't policy, which bans gays from serving openly in the military. "I accepted it because it was better than an absolute ban," Clinton said. "I was promised it would be better than it was."

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"Don't ask, don't tell was only adopted when both Houses of Congress had voted by a huge veto-proof margin to legislate the absolute ban on gays in the military if I didn't do something else," Clinton said. "So there's been a lot of rewriting history saying Bill Clinton just gave into that. That's just factually false. I didn't do anything until the votes were counted. Now, when Colin Powell sold me on don't pass, don't tell, here's what he said it would be. Gay service members would never get in trouble for going to gay bars, marching in gay rights parades as long as they weren't in uniform That was what they were promised. That's a very different don't ask, don't tell than we got."


The Wall Street Journal
columnist Bret Stephens says Republicans should take the lead in repealing DADT, pointing out that the policy is not only immoral but incredibly expensive:

The values argument isn't the half of it. Since DADT came into force in 1993, some 14,000 service members have been discharged under the policy—the equivalent of an entire division of warfighters. Investigating and processing each case has its costs; so does recruiting and training each replacement. How much? A 2006 commission organized by UCLA's Palm Center and led by former Defense Secretary William Perry put the total cost of each discharge at $42,835, meaning the policy has now cost the U.S. taxpayer around $600 million.... 

Republican senators are now bellyaching that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to jam the repeal amendment into a bill they have no real choice but to vote for. They should be silently thanking him. He's giving them the chance to do the right thing while blaming the Democrats for it. It's a GOP twofer, plus a vote they'll someday be proud of.