On Leadership

President Obama has gone on the record with his belief that the US military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy harms US national security*. “Threat to national security” is the class of items that usually legitimizes bombing other countries and infringing civil liberties. The “whatever it takes to avoid that” kind of situation.

Fortunately, the Obama administration does not have to wait for Congress to pass the buck to the next session. Federal Judge Virginia Phillips declared “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” unconstitutional and ordered the Department of Defense to immediately cease using the policy. Unless the Department of Justice decides to appeal the ruling (or asks for a stay, etc.), “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is dead.

The Department of Justice is an executive department. It works for the chief executive, President Obama. If the president honestly believes that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is a threat to national security, the only appropriate action is to publicly order** the Department of Justice to make no appeal.

That is leadership.

Anything else is cheap rhetoric.

*Now, I personally do not think that the national security issue is the most important issue involved. But, there are some that do not think this policy constitutes heinous discrimination. Many of these individuals are strong advocates for national security, even at moral cost.
**There is some debate that Department of Justice lawyers may have intentionally presented a thin case, but it is not clear whether this was contrived or a product of the legal position they were taking. The lack of a positive statement by the president makes even the intentionally weak case scenario playing politics with an issue that damages national security.

Author: Josh Witten


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