In the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Richard Socarides, a former adviser to President Clinton on gay issues, wrote that “recently we saw the potential beginning of an antigay fear campaign” over President Obama’s pledge to end the military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. “Fortunately, these scare tactics are for the most part relics of an older era,” wrote Socarides. “People understand that our military needs every talented American it can get, and that excluding gays from the military detracts from our ability to win wars.”
But on Frank Gaffney’s Secure Freedom Radio show Monday, Center for Military Readiness’ Elaine Donnelly, the right’s most prominent “crusader against gays in the military,” attacked Socarides column as “ludicrous,” noting that he “is open and professed as a gay person.” Donnelly particularly objected to Socarides argument that “men and women serve side by side today in combat, as do gay and straight service members, without incident,” saying that the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal was an “incident” that resulted from allowing women to serve with men in the military:
DONNELLY: Ok, now how are we going to deal with four different sexual groups, say in Special Operations summaries. How’s that going to work? Or are we going to have the kind of military — and he clearly suggests this — he says yes, we have women in the military. We all support women in the military. However, he says that everything has been going on just fine without incident. Umm, what was that Abu Ghraib scandal all about? It started out as misconduct between men and women and then it steadily deteriorated into abuse of prisoners. The common denominator is lack of discipline. Once you break down discipline, good order and discipline and morale, everything that’s required for unit cohesion, you undermine the culture and the strength of the armed forces. This man obviously doesn’t get that.
During the interview, Donnelly also suggested that she believes openly gay men and women shouldn’t be allowed to teach in schools. When Gaffney claimed that repealing DADT was “a backdoor way” for “imposing” the gay rights agenda “on the rest of society,” Donnelly agreed, saying, “If it’s ok for the Marines then why is it not ok for the local school.” Listen here:
Though two of the guards who committed the abuse at the Iraqi prison were involved in a relationship at the time, Donnelly’s contention that their relationship was the root of the mistreatment is absolutely ridiculous. In 2008, the Senate Armed Forces Committee released a bipartisan report on the military’s detainee treatment policies, which concluded that “the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own“:
The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.
As journalist Mark Danner wrote after reviewing the military’s own reports on the scandal, the infamous abuse photos “were the brutal public face of behavior that involved many more people than the seven military police who were quickly charged.”
GAFFNEY: She is generally speaking the go-to-person if you want to find out about threats to the good order and discipline and fundamentally the viability of the all-volunteer force, arising from these social experimenters. So, Elaine Donnelly welcome back to Secure Freedom Radio.
GAFFNEY: It is great to have you with us.
DONNELLY: It’s good to talk to you Frank.
GAFFNEY: Let’s start with the op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today entitled Ask Obama About Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Gay voters are growing impatient for equality. Tell us — most of us probably haven’t had a chance to read this Elaine Donnelly, but give us the argument here and the counterargument.
DONNELLY: Well, Richard Socarides, the author who is open and professed as a gay person, seems to think that the LGBT faction rules the world. But they do not.
GAFFNEY: That’s the lesbian…
GAFFNEY: Bisexual, gay, transgender.
DONNELLY: That’s right.
DONNELLY: The LGBT left, the same people that the president entertained for a special month at the White House, LGBT month. He really is determined to implement the agenda of this group, but they are hardly in the majority. Every time, for instance, the definition of marriage has been put to voters, 31 states, the marriage definition, a man and a woman, has prevailed. So, these people have views, they’re not in the majority, but this writer and others think that it’s time to impose the LGBT agenda on the armed forces. And that’s what we’re talking about.
GAFFNEY: Which they perceive, Elaine Donnelly, if I’m not mistaken as a vehicle for, sort of a backdoor way, imposing it on the rest of society.
DONNELLY: Oh absolutely because if this kind of agenda is forced upon, say, the Marine Corp. If it’s Ok for the Marines then why is it not Ok for the local school, the local marriage bureau, ultimately all of civilian life would be affected. But first of all the military would be affected because the military is composed of people, people who are human. People are not machines. This particular Wall Street Journal article is more ludicrous than most because it suggests that it’s just a rumor, a scare story to say that the military would have to do something about these showers.
GAFFNEY: Anti-gay fear campaign. Yeah, anti-gay fear campaign, I think is.
DONNELLY: yes, the anti-gay fear campaign. Ok, now how are we going to deal with four different sexual groups, say Special Operations summaries, how’s that going to work? Or are we going to have the kind of military — and he clearly suggests this — he says yes, we have women in the military. We all support women in the military. However, he says that everything has been going on just fine without incident. Umm, what was that Abu Ghraib scandal all about? It started out as misconduct between men and women and then it steadily deteriorated into abuse of prisoners. The common denominator is lack of discipline. Once you break down discipline, good order and discipline and morale, everything that’s required for unit cohesion, you undermine the culture and the strength of the armed forces. This man obviously doesn’t get that.
Update Earlier today, Ben Smith posted a statement from retired General John Shalikashvili, who implemented DADT as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying that it's "time to repeal" the policy. Pam Spaulding notes that when Shalikashvili came out against the policy in 2007, Donnelly claimed that he had been coerced into that position by gay activists after he suffered a stroke.