In testimony proffered at yesterday's hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke in forthright, plainspoken terms about why the current "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy should be repealed.
"No matter how I look at the issue," Mullen said, "I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens." Noting that he was speaking for himself and not for the other service chiefs, Mullen added: "For me, it comes down to integrity - theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
Late yesterday, Representative Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) went on CNN's "The Situation Room" with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and insinuated that Mullen was not being authentic when he spoke out in favor of repealing DADT, that he was merely acceding to the administration's demands.
HUNTER: Admiral Mullen and -- and Secretary Gates are both political appointees. They're going to be biased. They're going to say what the administration wants them to say. What I want to talk to is the Marines Corps commandant. I want to talk to -- to -- to General Casey in -- in the Army. I want to see what the military leaders -- the actual service leaders have to say on this, because I think they'll have a much different take than the political appointees.
BLITZER: All right. Let me just hesitate for a second, Congressman Hunter. Secretary Gates is certainly a political appointee named by the president, confirmed by the Senate. But Admiral Mullen is a four star Navy admiral, the chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, a career military officer. You're saying he's a political appointee?
HUNTER: What I'm saying is his -- his -- his point of view -- and he stressed this today -- was his and his alone. It is not his -- his actual Joint Chiefs' point of view.
BLITZER: But you're saying he's biased.
HUNTER: I think we're going to hear something very different.
GILLIBRAND: Wolf, may I...
BLITZER: Are you -- are you saying...
GILLIBRAND: ...address this question?
BLITZER: Yes, hold on, Senator. I just want to clarify what the Congressman is saying. You're saying he's biased?
HUNTER: Oh, he is biased to the administration. Yes. I believe so.
Naturally, it's not beyond the pale to suggest that officials who testify before Congress don't often come there with the intention of advancing an agenda. There's no way for Duncan Hunter or I to know how the administration influenced Mullen's testimony, or what demands were placed on him. That said, it's hard to discern any evidence to indicate that Mullen wasn't offering his authentic opinion. And regardless, he was in no way obligated to re-affirm his stated position on Twitter, later in the day. If you recall, Mullen said:
Stand by what I said: Allowing homosexuals to serve openly is the right thing to do. Comes down to inntegrity.
Suffice it to say, I think that when I tell you that Duncan Hunter is up to some Swift Boat-style nonsense, I'm calling it correctly.
Meanwhile, it's Hunter who's saying, "What I want to talk to is the Marines Corps commandant. I want to talk to -- to -- to General Casey in -- in the Army." Seems to me that it's Hunter who came to the table lacking an authentic opinion on the matter.
A day later, on NPR, here's how Hunter's authentic opinion revealed itself:
HUNTER: No, because I think it's bad for the cohesiveness and the unity in the military especially those that are in close combat, close quarters in country right now, it's not the time to do it. I think the military is not civilian and I think the folks that have been in the military in very close situations with each other, there has to be a special bond there and I think that bond is broken. If you open up the military to transgenders, to hermaphrodites to gays and lesbians.
HOST: Transgenders and hermaphrodites?
HUNTER: Yea, that's going to be part of this thing. It's not just gays an lesbians, it's this whole thing.
Duncan Hunter is not a man to be taken seriously.