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SD Congressman Challenges Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal

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Video published January 21, 2011 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: San Diego Congressman Duncan D. Hunter introduced legislation this week that would slow down the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. We'll find out what kind of support Hunter is getting from his colleagues in the House and how the bill could impede the implementation of the repeal.

On Wednesday, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter from Alpine introduced legislation requiring that all four military service chiefs certify that the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell won't negatively affect their combat units. Since the repeal has been enacted, what is the point of this bill and what reaction has it stirred. KPBS reporter Alison St. John is following the story.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ON WEDNESDAY, REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN DUNCAN HUNTER FROM ALPINE INTRODUCED LEGISLATION REQUIRING THAT ALL FOUR MILITARY SERVICE CHIEFS CERTIFY THAT THE REPEAL OF "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL" WON'T NEGATIVELY AFFECT THEIR COMBAT UNITS. AND SINCE THE REPEAL HAS BEEN END ACTED, WHAT IS THE POINT EVERY THIS BILL AND WHAT REACTION HAS IS STIRRED? ALLISON ST. JOHN IS FOLLOWING THIS STORY. SO ALLISON, WHAT IS THE POINT OF GETTING ALL THE CHIEFS TO SIGN OFF ON WHETHER THE ARMY, THE AIR FORCE, THE MARINES AND THE NAVY WOULD BE DEGRADED WITHOUT "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL"?

Reporter: WELL, SAN DIEGO CONGRESSMAN DONE CANNOT HUNTER VOTED AGAINST "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL." SO NOW HE IS SAYING THAT HIS BILL THAT HE JUST IS A VERY SHORT BILL, JUST A COUPLE PAGES HERE, NOT VERY LONG --BUT THAT IT WON'T ACTUALLY --HE'S NOT ATTEMPTING TO UNDO THIS PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT HE SAYS IT COULD HAVE THE IMPLICATION OF DELAYING IT. AND HE IS SAYING THAT THE CHIEFS OF ALL THE DIFFERENT ARMED FORCES, THE ARMY, NAVY, MARINE CORPS, AIR FORCE, SHOULD BE ACTUALLY INCLUDED IN THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS THAT CURRENTLY IS JUST UP TO THE CHIEF OF THE JOINT CHIEFS, MIKE AND THE SECRETARY OF THE DEFENSE, ROCKET GATES. SO BASICALLY, HE IS SAYING THAT FOR THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ON THE GROUND, IT IS BETTER TO BE IN TOUCH WITH THE PEOPLE ON THE GROUNDS AND THAT PEOPLE AT THE TOP OF THE HIGH-RANKING DON'T REALLY UNDERSTAND THIS ISSUE. HE WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT PUSHED DOWN A LITTLE BIT TO PEOPLE WHO HE SAYS ARE ACTUALLY IN TOUCH WITH THOSE ON THE GROUNDS, THE CHIEFS OF THE SERVICES AND SO HERE'S WHAT HE SAID WHEN I TALKED TO HIM ABOUT THIS.

THE MAJORITY OF TIME THE LOWER YOU PUSH DOWN LEADERSHIP, THE BETTER DECISIONS YOU HAVE. MEANING, I KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH MY PLATOON OR MY ARTILLERY BATTERY BETTER THAN THE THREE-STAR GENERAL DOES. BECAUSE I LIVE WITH MY BATTERY. AND I LIVE WITH THE MEN THERE. SO YOU HAVE CHAIRMEN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS AND SECRETARY GATES AND THE PRESIDENT MAKING A CERTIFICATION DECISION THAT IS GOING TO HAVE A GREAT EFFECT ON THE TROOPS' GROUND COMBAT, WHICH NONE OF THOSE THEY HAVE BEEN IN.

AND AS WE SAW THE CONGRESSMAN WAS IN FACT IN THE SERVICE HIMSELF. HE SERVED THREE TOURS OF DUTY, TWO IN IRAQ AND ONE IN AFGHANISTAN. SO HE'S MAKING THE POINT THAT I THINK THE IMPLICATIONS THAT INTERESTING IS THAT THERE COULD BE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF THE MILITARY AND HOW THIS POLICY, REPEAL IS --

BUT THIS IS A REPEAL OF THE REPEAL. IF IT'S PASSED, HOW COULD IT IMPEDE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE REPEAL?

WELL, BECAUSE IF ONE OF THE CHIEFS DECIDED THAT WAS NOT WILLING TO SIGN OFF IN THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS AND SAY IT WASN'T GOING TO AFFECT THE MORALE AND EFFECTIVENESS OF TROOPS IN COMBAT AND SAYING SPECIFICALLY TO TROOPS IN COMBAT AND PREPARING FOR COMBAT, THEN IT MIGHT BE ROLLED OUT AT DIFFERENT SPEEDS AND DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF THE MILITARY, WHICH I SHOULD IMAGINE WOULD CAUSE ENDLESS PROBLEMS. BUT THIS IS THE IDEA.

WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT IS HE GETTING FROM HIS COLLEAGUES IN THE HOUSE AND WHAT KIND OF REACTION FROM THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS HERE IN SAN DIEGO?

WELL, THE CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION, WE'VE GOT BRIAN BILBRAY ONBOARD. HE'S GOT ABOUT 18 CONGRESSMEN ONBOARD THE LAST TIME I CHECKED. THE DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS REPRESENTATIVES HERE IN SAN DIEGO OF COURSE ARE OPPOSED TO THIS BILL, AND FILNER HAS WRITTEN A LETTER SAYING THAT -- IT'S BEEN SAID THAT JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED, WHILE IT'S EQUALLY TRUE THAT CIVIL RIGHTS DELAYED TO CIVIL RIGHTS DENIED. SUSAN DAVIS HAD A INTERESTING REPORT THAT SAYS THE COST OF RECRUITING AND TRAINING TO REPLACE ALL THE GAYS IN THE MILITARY WHO HAVE BEEN DISMISSED AS RESULT OF "DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL" HAVE BEEN $185 MILLION IN FIVE YEARS BETWEEN 2004 AND 2009. SO SHE'S PONTEING OUT THAT IN FACT, IT IS GOING TO BE MUCH MORE EFFECT OF AND EFFICIENT TO INCLUDE THESE MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES IN TROOPS.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, ALLISON ST. JOHN.

MY PLEASURE.

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