As I’ve said previously, my highest priority is to have the policy that best enables our armed services to do their job,” Senator-Elect Toomey said. “Our civilian and professional military leadership have now spoken and said we should repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I would support a free-standing measure to do so.
According to ABC News, repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” looks increasingly likely to happen as 61 Senators have expressed support for a stand-alone bill to rid the military of an outdated policy:
Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown today voiced his support for a stand-alone repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, bringing the bill one vote over the 60-vote threshold that it will need to reach if and when the Senate votes on the measure in the coming weeks.
“Sen. Brown accepts the Pentagon’s recommendation to repeal the policy after proper preparations have been completed. If and when a clean repeal bill comes up for a vote, he will support it,” said Brown spokesperson Gail Gitcho.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a stand-alone repeal of the military’s outdated “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy:
The House on Wednesday handily approved a repeal of a ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, ratcheting up the pressure on Senate Republicans who have resisted holding a vote on procedural grounds.
The measure that the House approved, 250 to 175, had originally been part of a broader military policy bill. Last week, the Senate failed to break a Republican filibuster of that measure, with only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, voting to advance the bill.
The House bill now goes back to the Senate as a privileged bill, meaning that the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, can call it up immediately. Among Republicans, Senators Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana have indicated they could be open to voting for a repeal.
Reid has been blamed for dropping the ball on repeal of DADT by placing it in a military spending bill. And most Republicans believe that repeal of DADT is inappropriate in a lame duck session, even though they would likely voting against it anyway.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has already said she’s on board. With the tax deal likely to pass today, it’s hard to see the other Republicans listed above not voting for cloture to move repeal to a final vote.
A study released earlier this month showed broad support among members of the armed forces in repealing DADT with 70% believing it would have little or no effect.
Anyone who values the First Amendment ought to oppose the campaign to “get” Assange by any means necessary. In a free society, you can’t just “change the law” to persecute someone you don’t like, and you can’t abuse your position to silence speech you oppose.
Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., demanded that Assange be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act. After all, she wrote, the First Amendment isn’t “a license to jeopardize national security,” any more than it’s a license to “yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater.” A poor choice of metaphor: It comes from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1919 opinion in Schenck v. United States, when the Supreme Court allowed the Wilson administration to imprison a man for the crime of publicly arguing that the draft was unconstitutional.
We’ve since done a much better job protecting the First Amendment. In 1971’s New York Times v. United States, the Supreme Court rebuffed the Nixon administration’s attempt to stop the paper from publishing classified documents showing that the government had lied America into the Vietnam War.
With the United States’ case against Julian Assange still up in the air, politicians are still pounding their chests over WikiLeaks - even threatening newspapers for publishing the domestic cables:
Several legal experts pointed out to ABC News on Monday that the U.S. Justice Department could have a tough time actually enforcing the World War I-era law, which—as written—could also implicate severl such news organizations that published cables, such as the New York Times and the U.K. Guardian—or even anyone who’s read the cables or passed them along to friends over Twitter or Facebook.
American University law professor Stephen Vladeck told ABC News that “one of the flaws of the Espionage Act is that it draws no distinction between the leaker or the spy and the recipient of the information, no matter how far downstream the recipient is.”
Yesterday, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) took to the floor of the House of Representatives to offer a defense of WikiLeaks. You can read the full text of his speech here.
A couple of United States Senators are planning action against Wikileaks in the wake of the disclosure of thousands of sensitive documents:
On Thursday afternoon, senators will be briefed by Administration officials on the recent massive leak of classified documents by the website Wikileaks, a chance for them to ask questions and determine if a legislative remedy is necessary. Several key members made clear that they stand ready to take legislative action, if necessary.
White House officials have said that everything should be on the table in response, and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed that sentiment Thursday, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee, “We, as a country, need to make sure this never happens again. We, as a country, should do all we can.”
This in response to a question by Sen. John McCain, top Republican on the defense panel, during a hearing on whether or not to repeal the military’s current ban on gays serving openly. McCain said he was “concerned” about the leaks and that “someone needs to be held responsible.”
Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., joined McCain in expressing alarm at the public release of information that officials have said damaged U.S. national security and put Americans in harm’s way. Levin said Congress should act, if necessary, and afterward told Fox, “It may be appropriate. I don’t have enough information yet.”
The chairman said he would attend Thursday’s closed-door, senators-only briefing, which includes top officials from the State Department, Pentagon, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to ask questions, and then make a determination at some point on what Congress should do.
The Justice Department has already announced a criminal investigation into the matter.
The Department of Defense released a study (you can read it below) yesterday showing that an overwhelming majority of American service members do not have a problem fighting alongside gays:
The Pentagon’s long-awaited report on gays in the military concludes that repealing the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” law would present only a low risk to the armed forces’ ability to carry out their missions and that 70 percent of service members believe it would have little or no effect on their units.
According to the results of a survey sent to troops this summer and cited in the report, 69 percent of respondents said they had served with someone in their unit who they believed to be gay or lesbian. Of those who did, 92 percent stated that their unit’s ability to work together was very good, good, or neither good nor poor, according to the report.
Combat units reported similar responses, with 89 percent of Army combat units and 84 percent of Marine combat units saying they had good or neutral experiences working with gays and lesbians.
At the same time, the survey found that 30 percent of those surveyed overall — and between 40 and 60 percent of the Marine Corps — either expressed concern or predicted a negative reaction if Congress were to repeal the law.
Additionally, a new survey from Pew Research shows that 58% of Americans support eliminating the out-of-date policy; public support for allowing gays to serve in the military has been over 52% since 1992.
WikiLeaks has dropped its bombshell cache of U.S. diplomatic cables, ripping the cloak off scores of secret deals and duds, including clandestine North Korean support for Iran and the Bush administration’s failed attempt to remove nuclear material from Pakistan.
The release — more than a quarter-million back-channel cables that include brutally candid assessments of world leaders and previously undisclosed details of nuclear and antiterrorism activity — represents the most embarrassing and potentially damaging disclosure of American diplomatic material in decades.
“I don’t see the world ending … but lots of red, sputtering faces in D.C., embassies and capitals,” a senior American diplomat told POLITICO early Sunday, just before the release of the documents, which chronicle the sprawling growth of the U.S. diplomatic and intelligence corps after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The diplomat also predicted that governments and individuals overseas are likely to clam up as a result of the disclosures, “since no one will trust us to keep a secret for a while,” while “various and sundry interest groups will cherry-pick whatever can be found in the documents to support whatever version of reality they are peddling.”