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Ex-Joint Chiefs Chairman: Don’t Listen to the Chiefs on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

One of the most vigorous proponents of passing legislation this year to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who had to implement the military’s ban on open gay service, ret. Gen. John Shalikashvili. His Washington Post op-ed on Saturday outlined the basic plan that’s being marked up in the Senate Armed Services Committee right now: repeal the ban while punting on its implementation until a Pentagon Working Group instructs Defense Secretary Robert Gates in December how to least disruptively integrate the services. Now he’s wading back into the fray after the service chiefs came out in opposition to that compromise this afternoon in a series of letters to legislators.

“There is nothing in these letters that gives Congress any reason to delay enacting the legislative compromise that was proposed this week,” Shalikashvili writes to compromise supporters Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) from his Washington state home, in a letter released by the LGBT activist coalition working for legislative repeal. The service chiefs want the Working Group to guide implementation of the repeal? Then Congress should give them what they want by passing a legislative repeal first, since otherwise, “the Pentagon will be powerless to implement the Working Group’s recommendations.”

It’s also a compromise that respects military sentiment about repealing the ban, Shalikashvili continues: “[T]he proposed implementation and certification requirements contained in the legislative compromise ensure that the views of Service members and their families will be respected and given full weight in determining how best to implement this shift in policy.”

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