In subsequent congressional testimony, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey, Adm. Gary Roughead, who is the chief of naval operations, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway all urged that the law remain unchanged while American troops are at war. Conway, who retires next week after more than 40 years of service, was blunt: "My best military advice to this committee, to the secretary and to the president would be to keep the law such as it is."
That advice was ignored by the O-Team. Instead, the administration worked behind the scenes with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to attach an amendment to the 2011 defense authorization bill, which would have required the Pentagon to implement Obama's campaign promise. The measure failed when the "sponsors" couldn't cobble together 60 votes to shut off debate before next month's elections. That's where the matter stood until last week.
On Oct. 12, U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction barring the Defense Department from enforcing Section 654 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code and required the services "immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced" under "don't ask, don't tell." The Pentagon issued a flurry of orders to comply with the court order -- allowing practicing homosexuals to enlist -- while warning potential applicants that "the situation may change."
And change it did. On Oct. 20, in response to a plea from the flummoxed Obama Justice Department, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay of Phillips' order pending a hearing in San Francisco on Oct. 25. That should be some hearing. It's a good thing cameras aren't allowed inside federal courtrooms.
Does Phillips' order apply only to gays, or does it mean the military also must accept bisexuals and transgender people? Will military hospitals, already overwhelmed with combat casualties, be required to perform sex change operations? Do military chaplains have to conduct same-sex marriages? What will this do to military recruiting and retention in the midst of war? Nobody knows.
All of this is the result of Obama's penchant for making inane campaign promises with no coherent comprehension of the consequences. That's what happened with his ploy to close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Today's "don't ask, don't tell" chaos is akin to his scheme for trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, in a Manhattan courtroom -- and his support for building a mosque near ground zero. "Mr. Fix-It" makes bold promises. Someone else has to clean up the mess, especially when the mess would wreck the finest military the world has ever known.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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