US Military: Don't Ask, Don't Tell and Linguists (cont'd)
Harold F. Schiffman
haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Tue Jan 9 13:11:02 UTC 2007
Who's "lying"? "Gunny" Bob distorted poll in attacking retired Joint
Chiefs chairman's stance on gays in military
Summary: Newsradio 850 KOA host "Gunny" Bob Newman distorted the results
of a poll to call former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. John
Shalikashvili "a lying sack of crap" because of his position on allowing
gays to openly serve in the military. Newman also smeared Shalikashvili
and Democrats by asserting they had ulterior motives for changing the
"don't ask, don't tell" policy.
During the January 3 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA radio program,
"Gunny" Bob Newman misrepresented the results of a Zogby poll to call
former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili "a lying
sack of crap." Shalikashvili had cited one of the findings of the poll in
a January 2 New York Times op-ed ("Second Thoughts on Gays in the
Military") to support his perception that "gays and lesbians can be
accepted by their peers" in the military. Newman further ignored evidence
to the contrary when he claimed that there is no "tactical" or "strategic
reason" to allow gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military, and he
smeared Democratic lawmakers and Shalikashvili by asserting they had
ulterior motives for changing the military's "don't ask, don't tell"
policy. Shalikashvili made his comments in the context of reported plans
by members of the new Democratic majority in Congress to reintroduce
legislation to reverse the "don't ask, don't tell" policy -- which former
President Bill Clinton enacted in 1993 with Shalikashvili's support --
that bars gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military.
In his Times op-ed, Shalikashvili noted that in "a new Zogby poll of more
than 500 service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, three
quarters ... said they were comfortable interacting with gay people." The
poll of 545 current and former U.S. military service members who have
served in Iraq and Afghanistan (or in combat support roles directly
supporting those operations) was conducted October 24-26, 2006, and
released in December. According to the poll's Executive Summary:
Three-quarters of those surveyed stated that they felt comfortable around
gays and lesbians and four-in-five (78%) noted that they would join the
military regardless of their open inclusion. These results were taken from
Questions 24 and 27.
In disputing Shalikashvili's accurate citation of the poll, Newman
referred to different poll questions. In one instance, Newman referred to
the result of Question 23, which had been posed to that subset of the
545-member sample "who do not know for certain that someone in their unit
is gay/lesbian." NEWMAN: Well, I went to the Zogby poll. Shalikashvili is
a lying sack of crap. He forgot to mention that in the poll, 58 percent --
that's a clear majority -- said an openly gay or lesbian member in their
unit would have a negative impact on morale or cohesion. Shalikashvili
forgot to mention that and lied about it.
While it is true that 58 percent of this subset responded that they
thought the presence of gays and lesbians would negatively impact unit
morale, Newman apparently "forgot to mention" that only 38 percent of this
same group responded (to Question 22) that the presence of gays and
lesbians would negatively impact their personal morale; a majority
responded that it would have either no impact or a positive impact on
their personal morale.
Newman also apparently "forgot to mention" the results of Question 21,
which was posed to "those who know for certain that someone in their unit
is gay/lesbian." Of this group, only 27 percent thought that the presence
of gays and lesbians had a negative impact on unit morale, while 64
percent said it had "no impact" and the balance thought it had either a
positive impact or weren't sure. And 66 percent of this group responded
(to Question 20) that the presence of gays and lesbians had no impact on
their personal morale, while 6 percent said it had a positive impact.
Newman also selectively cited the result of Question 13 to assert that
Shalikashvili "lied." According to Newman, "Shalikashvili claimed that a
Zogby poll shows our military would not mind serving with openly gay
members. Highly misleading." He continued, "The general tried in his op-ed
piece to mislead readers about what the poll really asked and really said.
This Zogby poll published last month said 37 percent oppose allowing gays
to serve openly. Twenty-six percent said they should be allowed."
However, Newman failed to mention that a majority of respondents -- 63
percent -- agreed with allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the
military (26 percent), were neutral on the question (32 percent) or
weren't sure (5 percent).
Newman also denigrated Democrats' motives for lifting the ban on gays and
lesbians openly serving in the military as a fondness for "social
experimentations" and a desire "to anger the military." After asserting
that there is no "tactical" or "strategic reason" to reverse the "don't
ask, don't tell" policy, Newman ridiculed the argument that the dismissal
of gay Arab linguists from the military is problematic, challenging
listeners to "name two" cases.
But numerous reports contradict Newman's assertions. As Shalikashvili
noted in the first sentence of his op-ed, two weeks before -- at a
December 20 press conference -- President Bush called for an "increase in
the permanent size of both the United States Army and the United States
Marines." The Washington Post reported on December 20 that Army Chief of
Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker had warned Congress the previous week that
"the active-duty Army 'will break' under the strain of today's war-zone
rotations" and that former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin
Powell stated on December 17 that "the active Army is about broken."
Addressing the Congress the day after introducing "The Military Readiness
Enhancement Act" (H.R. 1059) on March 2, 2005, Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA)
With our troops spread thin in Iraq and Afghanistan, our military is
having serious problems meeting personnel requirements. The Army missed
its February recruiting goals by 27 percent. Yet under the Don't Ask,
Don't Tell, we are discharging thousands of experienced, dedicated
servicemembers simply because of their sexual orientation.
Hundreds of people let go under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy have
skills that are critical to the war on terror, including translators and
linguists. These soldiers have the courage to fight and the skills our
military needs. There is no reason we should not allow them to serve their
country. It is time for Congress to put national security interests first.
It is time to repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy so we can keep the
United States military the strongest in the world.
On July 27, 2006, the Associated Press reported ("Army dismisses gay
Arabic linguist: Decorated soldier 'outed' by anonymous e-mail never
admitted to charges") the case of one Arabic language specialist, Bleu
Copas. A decorated former sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division who, the
AP reported, said he had enlisted "out of a post-Sept. 11 sense of duty to
his country," Copas was dismissed because of the "don't ask, don't tell"
policy. In November 2002, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the
Army's discharge of six Arabic language specialists studying at the
Defense Language Institute, including Specialist Alastair Gamble and Pfc.
Patricia Ramirez. Beyond these named three, a February 2005 Government
Accountability Office (GAO) report found that in the period 1994-2003, the
military dismissed for "homosexual conduct" 54 service members who had
trained as specialists in Arabic at the Defense Language Institute.
The National Commission on Terrorism in its 2000 report noted that "[a]ll
U.S. Government agencies face a drastic shortage of linguists." The
Chronicle quoted Donald Hamilton, an adviser to the commission, saying,
"The shortage of Arabic speakers in the intelligence community is well
established" and "The loss of talent is a cost of it (don't ask, don't
On January 13, 2005, the Associated Press reported, "The number of Arabic
linguists discharged from the military for violating its 'don't ask, don't
tell' policy is higher than previously reported, according to records
obtained by a research group." The AP further reported:
Between 1998 and 2004, the military discharged 20 Arabic and six Farsi
speakers, according to Department of Defense data obtained by the Center
for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military under a Freedom of
Information Act request.
The military previously confirmed that seven translators who specialized
in Arabic had been discharged between 1998 and 2003 because they were gay.
The military did not break down the discharges by year, but said some, but
not all, of the additional 13 discharges of Arabic speakers occurred in
Finally, Newman suggested the change in Shalikashvili's position on gays
in the military was motivated by political ambition and a desire "to be
secretary of defense under Hillary Clinton."
In fact, Shalikashvili stated in his op-ed that his change of opinion was
based on his understanding of how the feelings of military personnel
toward gay and lesbian service members had changed during the intervening
14 years, citing the Zogby poll as evidence of this change:
When I was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I supported the current
policy because I believed that implementing a change in the rules at that
time would have been too burdensome for our troops and commanders. I still
believe that to have been true. The concern among many in the military was
that given the longstanding view that homosexuality was incompatible with
service, letting people who were openly gay serve would lower morale, harm
recruitment and undermine unit cohesion.
In the early 1990s, large numbers of military personnel were opposed to
letting openly gay men and lesbians serve. President Bill Clinton, who
promised to lift the ban during his campaign, was overwhelmed by the
strength of the opposition, which threatened to overturn any executive
action he might take. The compromise that came to be known as "don't ask,
don't tell" was thus a useful speed bump that allowed temperatures to cool
for a period of time while the culture continued to evolve.
The question before us now is whether enough time has gone by to give this
policy serious reconsideration. Much evidence suggests that it has.
Last year I held a number of meetings with gay soldiers and marines,
including some with combat experience in Iraq, and an openly gay senior
sailor who was serving effectively as a member of a nuclear submarine
crew. These conversations showed me just how much the military has
changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers.
This perception is supported by a new Zogby poll of more than 500 service
members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, three quarters of whom said
they were comfortable interacting with gay people. And 24 foreign nations,
including Israel, Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism,
let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.
I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United
States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed
forces. Our military has been stretched thin by our deployments in the
Middle East, and we must welcome the service of any American who is
willing and able to do the job.
>>From the January 3 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Gunny Bob Show:
NEWMAN: Yeah, General Shallow Shal Shalikashvili -- that was his nickname
when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, '93 to '97, under
Bubba. He -- he was against gays and lesbians serving openly in the
military, and he was part of the program that is now called "don't ask,
don't tell." He -- that was like a compromise. Well, he wrote this op-ed
piece in The New York Times, and now he says that, although he was right
back then to oppose it, he's also right now to -- to oppose -- back then
he opposed the, you know, the -- he opposed gays openly -- openly serving.
He's now changed his mind. And he says he's right this time too. So he
wants it on both ways. 303-713-8585.
And in the op-ed piece he forgot to mention. He says, "Oh, I talked to
some gay Marines and gay sailors on submarines, and there is no morale or
unit cohesion problem," and that they say that the units and other folks
that he heard about in a Zogby poll wouldn't have a problem with it. Well,
I went to the Zogby poll. Shalikashvili is a lying sack of crap. He forgot
to mention that in the poll, 58 percent -- that's a clear majority -- said
an openly gay or lesbian member in their unit would have a negative impact
on morale or cohesion. Shalikashvili forgot to mention that and lied about
it. Oh, we contacted General Shalikashvili, asked him to come on The Gunny
Bob Show and identified what my background is. He refuses. He refuses. So
what he ended up doing was running a drive-by media attack in the Times.
And doesn't feel like he wants to or he should answer any questions about
the claims he made, which we're now proving are false. 303-713-8585.
You're a liar, Shalikashvili. 303-713-8585. I don't blame you for not
coming on this show.
NEWMAN: General Shalikashvili claimed that a Zogby poll shows our military
would not mind serving with openly gay members. Highly misleading. The
general tried in his op-ed piece to mislead readers about what the poll
really asked and really said. This Zogby poll published last month said 37
percent oppose allowing gays to serve openly. Twenty-six percent said they
should be allowed. So the general lied to you about that. This is why he
was known as Shallow Shal. And he goes on to say in the op-ed that our
military specifically needs openly gay and lesbian members to, quote, get
this country on the right track, close quote. But he fails to say in the
op-ed what that track is. He claims our military, quote, cannot afford to
lose, close quote, gay and lesbian members, but again offers no evidence
whatsoever to support his claim. And how can this general say he was right
to oppose gays serving openly back in the '90s because it was too
burdensome on our armed forces, but now it would be fine and not
burdensome at all? Because he wants to be secretary of defense under
Hillary Clinton. He's a typical liberal general, just like Wesley "the
Weasel" Clark and Colin Powell, who lack intestinal fortitude.
NEWMAN: Yes, there is legislation being worked on right now. The new
Congress -- our liberal, leftist Congress -- wants gays to be able to
serve openly in the military because they want the military to be -- for
two things to happen: They want the military to be another platform for
their social experimentations, and they want to -- they want to anger the
military. They want to, in their view, put the military -- the macho types
in the military -- in their place. That's what they want to do. That's why
they're doing this. There's no logical reason to do it. There's no
tactical reason. There's no operational reason. There's no strategic
reason. People say, "Oh, well what about all of the Arab linguists who are
gay who are being discharged?" Yeah, name two.
Posted to the web on Monday January 8, 2007 at 7:01 PM EST
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