Posted by Brad @ 6:08 pm on August 25th 2009

Your DADT Story of the Day

Air force combat pilot is accused of raping a man. In the course of the police investigation, pilot is questioned, answers questions honestly to prove that the sex was consensual; provides evidence. Police clear him of all charges, as does an Air Force investigation, finding that the sex was indeed consensual and the plaintiff was an unreliable source.

Air Force promptly discharges pilot for being gay and takes away his pension for 20 years of service for answering police questions honestly.


  1. Reminder: the President can issue an executive order to end this tomorrow if he wants to. Also could have done so yesterday.

    But apparently it’s too important to save his political capital for…for…for whatever the hell he’s saving it for.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/25/2009 @ 8:41 pm

  2. Rojas,
    Doesn’t that depend on what you mean by end this? My understanding, perhaps flawed, is that the President can’t end the policy via executive order, he could merely get around it by ordering some sort of stoppage of investigatons or some other rather weasely way around a law passed by Congress. While Obama has certainly done all of nothing for pretty much gay-related civil liberties in general, on this it seems to be squarely the moral cowardice or political calculus of the Dems in congress, particularly the Senate, that is the real hold up with DADT.

    Comment by Jack — 8/25/2009 @ 8:48 pm

  3. Yes He Can.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/25/2009 @ 8:54 pm

  4. I don’t know; I would guess that you’d know more than me Jack, but my read is similar to Rojas’. It is at the very least unclear, but what most gay and/or military activists seem to want is a two-pronged approach, an executive order stopping any further separations, followed by a push for legislative appeal. Here’s a pretty good roadmap.

    1. Signing an Executive Order banning further military separations based on DADT and sending a legislative proposal on DADT repeal to Congress

    2. Forming a presidential panel on how to implement the repeal

    3. Repealing DADT in Congress and changing the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMS

    4. Changing other necessary military guidelines to conform to the new policy

    5. Following-up to ensure that the armed forces implement the policy changes

    Whether that’s weasely or not is I guess open to interpretation. It doesn’t strike me as such. Although, given that there seems to me to be precisely no push to do either the legislative or the executive route, that’s all rather academic at this point. Obama has shown precisely zero leadership on this one. In Sullivan’s words, he has demonstrated “the fierce urgency of whenever”.

    I’ve given up giving Obama the benefit of the doubt in terms of always assuming he’s got the Right Thing in mind and is just in the long process of devising a cunning strategy to slowly drip out his goodness over the course of eight years.

    Comment by Brad — 8/25/2009 @ 8:59 pm

  5. To be fair on that Palm Center report Rojas, that’s a solicited legal opinion saying in their opinion he could. It’s not exactly a surefire thing, and whether a court would agree with it is another matter entirely (although, in practice, I imagine they would, if for no other reason than courts don’t seem hopping at the bit to challenge executive power these days).

    But in any case, a legal opinion saying something is legal is a lot different than it being legal, as John Yoo can(‘t) tell you. Although, again, that’s sort of academic.

    Comment by Brad — 8/25/2009 @ 9:02 pm

  6. Well, yes, it is that. I don’t precisely know what one would want me to present as evidence for the point; people who don’t want DADT repealed are not going to go out of their way to claim it could be.

    I cannot fault anyone for taking the position of legislative deference, should they choose to do so. In a perfect world the solution probably WOULD be legislative, even given Obama’s CiC authority and the rather persuasive technical case made by the Palm Center. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that a deep-seated belief in constitutional priciple is not Obama’s primary reason for failing to try an executive order.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/25/2009 @ 9:30 pm

  7. No, I was actually asking to be educated. Rojas’ linked legal study was a good starting point. I have spend the last 45 minutes doing a quick search for competing opinions. Palm Center seems to be on pretty damn solid ground, and the only real opposition argument I can find comes from the White House, and is based more on the “durability” of suspending DADT by Executive Order, rather than the legality of it.

    How many Senators are on record with some form of support for ending DADT? I know Harry Reid is. I suspect at least 30 are already on the record, maybe 50. And yet Reid can not find a single sponsor for legislation to overturn it. They are either moral and political cowards, or they are cynical liars using the gay community and civil liberty supporters for their own gain without following through on direct and implied commitments. These are not mutually exclusive, so I vote both.

    The President, too, is a moral coward and deceptive liar on the issue. I think it pretty clear that he has backburnered the issue in order to deal with the pressing concerns that have greater weight with him, but there may never be a time when that is not so. His actions as President, and those of his administration including the DoJ, on gay issues has been no different than the Bush administration’s. When Dick Cheney is to the left of you on a civil liberties issue, you might have some problems.

    Comment by Jack — 8/25/2009 @ 9:44 pm

  8. I tend to think that Jack has it right; that Obama would end the law, all else being equal, but that it is not a priority for him.

    That was sort of how I saw Obama’s civil liberties agenda in general during the campaign. The thing that has confused me about his Presidency, though, is that I always assumed that he’d back-burder this stuff in order to push his economic agenda. But except in limited instances (notably the stimulus package and bank bailout), he hasn’t done that either. Even the key elements of his health care scheme don’t seem to be worthy of an exhaustive fight.

    I’m truly confused. He is hoarding his political capital for…what, exactly?

    It’s been a good foreign policy Presidency so far. But the rest of it I’m just bewildered by.

    Comment by Rojas — 8/25/2009 @ 9:49 pm

  9. Ah, see this is where I think we differ, because I think the stimulus package, bank bailout, foray into GITMO closing, and his limited engagement in the health care dcbate have nearly exhausted his political capital, and he now expects that the Democratically dominated Congress needs to carry a bit of water. His poll numbers have dropped steadily, and he has a shitton of other issues coming down the pipe, particularly in foreign policy.

    Comment by Jack — 8/25/2009 @ 10:00 pm

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