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October 08, 2009

AC 360: Dan Choi takes on anti-gay automaton Elaine Donnelly

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Anderson Cooper, bless him, repeatedly tried to get the shrill doyenne of discrimination Elaine Donnelly to actually answer questions. She tried steamrolling him and Dan Choi several times, but when you put her on the mic, the batsh*ttery spews forth as predictably as Old Faithful.

Honest to god, if this woman is going to be the face of preserving DADT, they have no chance. Just pass the Military Readiness Enhancement Act already. Her inane answers in this video are knee-slapping bad. I don’t know how Anderson or Dan made it through this interview without busting out laughing. Just one exchange:

DONNELLY: Dan — Dan, I see little concern for the people who would be forced out of the military if this law passed.

COOPER: Who’d be forced out.

DONNELLY: You see, there would be zero tolerance if anyone disagrees, if the new lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender, what we call Murphy’s LGBT Law, passes.

COOPER: Wait, wait. I’m sorry. Wait, Elaine, who would be forced — Elaine? Elaine?

DONNELLY: … discharges has come up twice now.

COOPER: Elaine, please let me ask you a question. Elaine.

Who would actually be forced out of the military? I’ve never heard this before.

DONNELLY: Because — well, no one ever denies it. Zero tolerance of anyone who disagrees is a corollary policy that comes if you treat an issue as a civil rights issue.

COOPER: I know, but Elaine, that’s — it’s zero tolerance of anybody — plenty of people disagree with other people in the military. It’s just a question of whether you respect and serve with them.

DONNELLY: On this issue — on this issue, anyone who disagrees would be forced out. They would be denied promotions.

COOPER: Anybody who acted on disagreement.

DONNELLY: In the military, that ends your career, if you are denied promotion. But let’s talk about some discharges. The military…

CHOI: Let me stop you right there, because that’s absolutely wrong.

Full transcript is below the fold.

 

Transcript:

COOPER: Tonight, rethinking “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the 16- year-old ban on gays serving openly in the military. A new article in the Pentagon’s own top scholarly journal, “Joint Force Quarterly,” written for the joint chiefs of staff by an Air Force colonel, has concluded that, quote, “there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that unit cohesion will be negatively affected if homosexuals serve openly in the U.S. military.” In fact, the author concludes that forcing gays and lesbians to serve in secret actually hurts unit cohesion, and gays serving openly has had no negative impact on the military forces in Britain, Israel, Canada and Australia.

Tonight, U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy, an Iraqi war vet, is making his case to appeal the ban. Here he is just a few moments ago on the House floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PATRICK MURPHY (D), PENNSYLVANIA: We have kicked out over 13,000 troops since we enacted this law 16 years ago. We have kicked out over 400 troops just this year in 2009. When our commanders on the ground are desperate for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, now is not the time to throw them out. Not for any type of sexual misconduct, but just because they’re gay.

COOPER: President Obama said he wants to repeal the ban sooner rather than later. But so far, the administration has done nothing.

Let’s dig deeper now. From Salt Lake City, First Lieutenant Dan Choi is a West Point graduate, an Arab linguist, and a six-year veteran of the Army National Guard. He’s now facing discharge for saying he’s gay.

And in Detroit, Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a group which has no affiliation with the armed forces but which opposes gays serving openly.

Elaine, why shouldn’t Dan Choi be allowed to serve this country?

ELAINE DONNELLY, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR MILITARY READINESS: The law says that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military. You know, there is no civil right. There is no obligation for anyone who wants to be in the military, if they apply, that they should be admitted. Lots of people are not eligible, including myself.

COOPER: But I mean, he’s an Arab linguist.

DONNELLY: But what about…

COOPER: OK. But he’s an Arab linguist.

DONNELLY: Yes.

COOPER: And a West Point graduate. What harm he is doing to the military?

DONNELLY: It’s the harm happens because the Department of Defense has not — not explained to people in general or potential recruits exactly what the law says and why. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is not the law, Anderson. It is an administrative policy.

COOPER: Again, right, but you’re not answering — sorry. You’re not answering the question.

DONNELLY: I am answering the question. COOPER: What harm specifically is he doing to the military by serving?

1ST LIEUTENANT DAN CHOI, U.S. NATIONAL GUARD: Well, Anderson, let me tell you about…

COOPER: Let her answer.

DONNELLY: The law — the law is about good order, discipline and morale.

COOPER: You cannot tell me specifically.

DONNELLY: I’m reading to you — I’m relating to you exactly what the law says.

COOPER: OK.

DONNELLY: The says that it would be harmful to good order, discipline, and morale if the — if we have open homosexuals in the military, and I’ll tell you why. It would be tantamount to saying that military men would be living with military women constantly, with little or no privacy, in conditions of what the law describes as forced intimacy.

COOPER: OK, Dan.

DONNELLY: Now that is not conducive to discipline.

CHOI: It’s not the same thing as sexual orientation. And I think that somebody as smart as you, Elaine, you should know that.

But let me tell you about the harm.

DONNELLY: It’s called conduct.

CHOI: The harm is that 13,000 soldiers, in a time of war, more than a division of soldiers, are getting kicked out. I’m just talking about more than half a billion dollars now is being spent just kicking soldiers out. Not just any soldiers. But people who are honest about who they are. Arabic linguists, doctors, medical professionals. You’d think you’d need some of the people.

DONNELLY: You know…

CHOI: But the greatest harm — the greatest harm is actually a human toll that’s taken. Imagine, Elaine, if your husband was killed in Afghanistan last night, and you didn’t get any of the notification until the media wanted to do a newspaper article on it. That’s the harm, that we’re not even supporting the families of these gay and lesbian soldiers.

DONNELLY: Dan — Dan, I see little concern for the people who would be forced out of the military if this law passed.

COOPER: Who’d be forced out.

DONNELLY: You see, there would be zero tolerance if anyone disagrees, if the new lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender, what we call Murphy’s LGBT Law, passes.

COOPER: Wait, wait. I’m sorry. Wait, Elaine, who would be forced — Elaine? Elaine?

DONNELLY: … discharges has come up twice now.

COOPER: Elaine, please let me ask you a question. Elaine.

Who would actually be forced out of the military? I’ve never heard this before.

DONNELLY: Because — well, no one ever denies it. Zero tolerance of anyone who disagrees is a corollary policy that comes if you treat an issue as a civil rights issue.

COOPER: I know, but Elaine, that’s — it’s zero tolerance of anybody — plenty of people disagree with other people in the military. It’s just a question of whether you respect and serve with them.

DONNELLY: On this issue — on this issue, anyone who disagrees would be forced out. They would be denied promotions.

COOPER: Anybody who acted on disagreement.

DONNELLY: In the military, that ends your career, if you are denied promotion. But let’s talk about some discharges. The military…

CHOI: Let me stop you right there, because that’s absolutely wrong.

DONNELLY: The number is miniscule.

CHOI: You say some of the same things that people were talking about before the bans are lifted in Israel, in Canada.

DONNELLY: You know, actually…

COOPER: One at a time. Dan…

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: Guys, wait a minute. Time out. Time out. It really does nobody any good to talk over each other. It’s really actually rather irritating. And the audience just turns you off. You both have important points to make. Just let you each complete your thought.

Dan, please complete your thought.

CHOI: Well, I think the harm is you really hurt the soldiers that are having to get deployed now without effective, capable soldiers. It’s a matter of capabilities.

Now I’m an Arabic linguist. And when I get kicked out, it’s not that I’m the victim. It’s the soldiers in my unit that aren’t able to communicate. So the question is to you, Elaine, I have to ask you, (SPEAKING ARABIC)?

See, you’re not being able to answer that. If you can’t answer that, that’s a problem.

DONNELLY: A gays in the military campaign does not work.

COOPER: OK. Elaine…

CHOI: If you can’t answer that question, that’s not a problem. If the soldiers can’t answer that, it’s very devastating.

DONNELLY: There are many ways that we could get more Arabic translators, including in a city near where we’re sitting — where I’m sitting right now.

CHOI: Well, why don’t you?

DONNELLY: We — because of security clearances.

CHOI: You should go out there and volunteer to sign up and go to war in Iraq. But you’ve never actually worn the uniform. You’re not willing to do that.

DONNELLY: Dan, you asked me about missing soldiers. What about the ones in the mid level, the 10- to 14-year race, the ones who have already said, if this law is repealed, they are not going to stay. They’re going to leave the volunteer force. And this would be in addition to those who would be forced out, because they don’t want to put up with the…

CHOI: The same arguments we used for racial integration.

COOPER: OK, Elaine, what you’re essentially saying, though, is that service members are too narrow-minded to be able to — to serve with somebody they may disagree with. I mean, you’re in fact — it seems like you’re insulting service members, no?

DONNELLY: Far from it. Would you expect women to live with men in conditions of little or no privacy?

COOPER: They do. I was just in Afghanistan on a small military base in the middle of nowhere, and I’ve got to tell you, they do.

DONNELLY: To the greatest degree possible.

COOPER: Elaine, have you actually been to Afghanistan, or — recently?

DONNELLY: I would like to finish my sentence, please.

COOPER: I know, but have you been in the military? Have you served or have you spent time, a lot, on military bases?

DONNELLY: I respect those who do, including more than 1,000…

CHOI: Then why do you insult those that are having to serve?

DONNELLY: More than 1,000 general officers retired…

CHOI: In their 70s and 80s, who haven’t lived under “don’t ask, don’t tell” and who have…

DONNELLY: … 51 over four stars, who have signed a statement.

CHOI: You can go to senior citizens center all the time and collect all the signatures you want, but they are so detached from reality. Those soldiers that are on the ground right now, they know people that are gay in their units.

DONNELLY: More than 1,000 flag and general officers, Mr. Choi? I mean, that’s quite a statement to make. You know, you do…

CHOI: You can spend all the time that you want getting these petitions. But there are gay and lesbian soldiers that are serving right now. They don’t have time to collect petitions like you do. And they are serving so they can protect your freedoms, so you can actually say the things that you’re doing.

DONNELLY: These are formal statements — formal statements signed by more than 1,000 flag and general officers. And they…

CHOI: Who never served under “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

DONNELLY: Including retention and readiness would be harmed. That’s the three “R’s” that support the all-volunteer force.

COOPER: So Elaine, this new…

DONNELLY: Why would we want to have…

COOPER: … this new report in “The Journal” that says that there’s no scientific evidence that backed up that statement whatsoever from a guy serving on the staff as secretary of defense, you don’t buy that?

DONNELLY: There is no other — there is no other military in the world that is implementing the extreme plan that you are advocating, Dan Choi.

CHOI: Extreme? I don’t understand. Extreme is kicking out soldiers in a time of war. And it’s befitting that you have never served in the military.

DONNELLY: … less than one percent.

COOPER: We’ve got — we’ve got to leave it there.

CHOI: I want to thank you for — I want to thank you for speaking up. But the gay and lesbian soldiers that are fighting to protect your rights of free speech give you that ability to even be on TV today.

DONNELLY: By the way, the essay in the magazine was a contest. That’s all. It was just a contest winner. That’s why the article was published. It really is of no great consequence.

COOPER: OK. OK. Dan Choi, Elaine Donnelly, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.

CHOI: Thanks, Elaine.

Thanks, Anderson.

DONNELLY: Thank you.


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