Friday, February 05, 2010

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- A Threat to National Security

Captain Joan E. Darrah (USN, Ret.) served as a naval intelligence officer for nearly 30 years.

Prior to her retirement, Captain Darrah served as chief of staff and deputy commander at the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Captain Darrah is a lesbian.

She describes the effect of "don't ask, don't tell" in an op-ed piece published yesterday on CNN Opinion.

Captain Darrah's article describes the actual impact of the policy on her -- and it's not pretty -- but it doesn't describe one of the potential impacts of that policy on any airman, soldier, sailor or Marine who's forced by the policy to live a secret life, and that potential impact's corollary impact on national security.

If you're forced to keep a secret from your employer, you're vulnerable to extortion.

And if you're vulnerable to extortion, your employer is vulnerable to you.

Dose of reality number one: Homosexuals have been serving in the US armed forces since the Revolution. They're serving in the US armed forces now. And they'll be serving in the US armed forces as long as the US armed forces exist.

Dose of reality number two: Homosexuality is no longer the taboo or stigma that it once was. That's not to say that the age of gay-bashing and shunning is completely over, but it's certainly moving in that direction.

It's now possible for gay men and lesbian women to live reasonably "normal" lives in modern America. To date openly. To marry in some states (soon to be all of them). To maintain legal arrangements similar to marriage in states that haven't caught up with reality yet. To adopt.

Unless they're in the military.

If they're in the military, then they are vulnerable -- not because of their sexual orientation, but because of the military's policy of requiring that that orientation be kept secret on pain of discharge.

Because they are vulnerable, the military is vulnerable. "Don't ask, don't tell" makes every man and woman in the military -- of any sexual orientation, because a false allegation can be just as much a career-killer as a real one -- a potential vector for infiltration by foreign intelligence services.

"You can bring some documents home in your briefcase for us to photograph, or your commanding officer can receive an anonymous letter that says you are a homosexual."

"You can dial the phone number I give you when your unit is mobilized, or I can post pictures of you at a gay bar on the Internet."

If conservatives really cared about "national security," they'd be raising holy hell for a policy of "we couldn't possibly care less about your sexual orientation." That they're willing to create thousands of potential George Trofimoffs and James Hall IIIs in order to maintain a dying form of bigotry as a military institution makes it clear that "national security" is way down their list of priorities.

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