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Pentagon Reacts To Heavy Fire Over DADT Survey



Editor’s note:

This guest post by Scott Wooledge was originally published at Daily Kos Saturday and is published here with his permission. Scott writes at the Daily Kos under the handle Clarknt67.

 title= Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United

Friday, gay and lesbian advocates took sharp aim at the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” survey the Pentagon finally made available on Wednesday to 400,000 troops. Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United said:

“It is simply impossible to imagine a survey with such derogatory and insulting wording, assumptions, and insinuations going out about any other minority group in the military.”

Many more media outlets, LGBT and not, and advocacy groups agreed, questioning a wide range of the survey’s language, framing and subjects. The Pentagon quickly switched to damage control, hastily convening a press conference to address those concerns.

Nicholson released a statement to the press:

“This expensive survey stokes the fires of homophobia by its very design and will only make the Pentagon’s responsibility to subdue homophobia as part of this inevitable policy change even harder.”

Nicholson and others criticized the use of the word “homosexual,” which has been shown in polling to inhibit support for LGBT issues when used instead of “gay and lesbian.” [psychodrew also says the APA now discourages use of ‘homosexual’ in publications.] From a recent CBS poll on the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which tested this by polling the same question using both terms:

 title=Nicholson’s accompanying memo (pdf) also closely examined specific areas and language his organization felt exhibited framing bias, and push-poll tactics. They called out this question as representative of a handful of others:

If Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and you are assigned to share a room, berth or field tent with someone you believe to be a gay or lesbian Service member, which are you most likely to do? Mark 1.

1. Take no action

2. Discuss how we expect each other to behave and conduct ourselves while sharing a room, berth or field tent

3. Talk to a chaplain, mentor, or leader about how to handle the situation

4. Talk to a leader to see if I have other options

5. Something else

6. Don’t know

Nicholson explains:

The real atrocity in these questions, which are some of the worse in the entire survey, lies in the answer choices, especially “Discuss how we expect each other to behave and conduct ourselves while sharing a room, berth, or field tent.” The fact that this is even an answer choice legitimizes the completely irrational assumption or fear that gays and lesbians need to be “talked to” about their behavior and conduct, lest they misbehave by default. Also the suggestion that someone may need to “talk to a chaplain, mentor, or leader about how to handle the situation” is highly offensive. No survey would ever be allowed to get away with suggesting or implying such things about any other minority.

 title=Attempting to mitigate damage to the study’s credibility, a press conference was held Friday afternoon by Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell. The spokesman expressed that the Pentagon was “discouraged” that the questions were leaked and had hoped they’d remain confidential. He conceded the questionnaire is not scientific. He did, however, defend the survey against the criticism of bias and homophobia, calling it “nonsense” and saying, “This is the work of an incredibly respected, professional survey organization.” The organization in question being Westat Corporation which has been paid a reportedly $4.5 million dollars to conduct the survey on behalf of the Pentagon.

Morrell called the media coverage of this story “inflammatory.” Though less impassioned in its rhetorical choices than Nicholson, Salon also posted a piece that took swipes at the not-to-subtle homophobic framing bias throughout the survey. Morrell singled out the outlet out for criticism, taking particular umbrage at their choice of  headline:

“Pentagon asks troops how gross it would be to shower with a gay person”

Megan Carpenter writing for Talking Points Memo (Pentagon Survey On Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Now Available: Raises Questions About Pentagon Priorities) deftly points out that of the 103 question survey there are endless questions that work from the pretext of problems associated with repealing the policy, and assume resistance. There are, however, no questions that addressed the potential ill-effects of the policy itself. None explore what effect discrimination that targets troops for investigation and harassment might have on morale and unit cohesion.

Morrell was confronted by Chris Geidner of MetroWeekly on that exact point:

His only response when asked by Metro Weekly why there appeared to be no questions regarding the current impact of DADT and DADT-related discharges on troops’ morale and unit cohesion was, “I don’t know. I’m sure there’s a good explanation. We’ll try to get it for you. I don’t know.

Mike Riley writing in the Denver Post, reports active duty gay service members he spoke with are skeptical about what is the true goal of the study:

“The survey is going to be turned into a weapon to show how it’s going to affect morale,” said an active-duty Air Force officer and a member of Citizens For Repeal, which represents several hundred gays and lesbians now in the ranks, many of them from the military’s elite service academies.

Riley does include a point of optimism for LGB troops, which still underscores the folly of this $4.5 million push-poll:

The officer said he had already seen several chain e-mails mocking the survey’s language and questions. He also said several groups asked to provide input on the survey before it was released but were turned down.

“It’s being made fun of,” the officer said. “The reaction to the survey from the troop level is showing how out of touch leadership is from the subject.”

In a follow up report on the press conference, TPM’s Carpenter wrote:

When quizzed about the development of the survey questions, Morrell admitted that they didn’t consult with advocacy groups about the design of the survey, leaving that to the professionals at Westat, the private contractor who developed the questions in consultation with the Pentagon and working group.

Why LGBT servicemembers advocacy groups were not consulted is a mystery. Certainly Joint Chief Mike Mullen’s attention was drawn by Senator Claire McCaskill as far back as February about the problems incumbent on getting an LGBT perspective on this issue. From the DADT Senate hearings:

McCaskill: “Here’s my problem, we now have established we have gays and lesbian Americans serving in the military, that they are not broadly causing any broad disciplinary or moral problems, that we welcome their service.

The issue is not whether or not we have gays and lesbians serving in the military, it’s whether or not we talk about it. So, how are you going to get their input in this survey?”

Mullen: “Well, actually, I mean, my take on that is…, hang on a second… [long pause] um… It think we would have to look very carefully at how we would do that.”

Mullen may have “looked very carefully at it,” but it’s clear the Working Group has failed miserably to address this issue with an inclusive eye.

While the standing policy of DADT presents a serious impediment to including LGB perspective, the Veteran community is rich with people who have had one boot in each world who are under no obligation to be silent. But, despite requests to be forwarded an advance copy of the survey, Westat and the Pentagon declined to bring leading LGBT/DADT advocacy group Servicemembers Legal Defense Network into the fold, declining the opportunity to use of their consulting expertise. Likewise, Citizens for Repeal reports requests to review the questionnaire in advance of its release were refused by the Pentagon.

From the Servicemembers United statement (PDF):

Servicemembers United received several confidential reports during the drafting and revision of this survey that the survey was potentially being skewed in an unfavorable direction through flawed design. Servicemembers United raised these concerns with the Comprehensive Review Working Group on multiple occasions and repeatedly asked to view and provide feedback on the survey while it was being drafted.

The opportunity to lend our extensive experience and expertise in talking about this issue with conservative audiences, including active duty troops, was denied. A request to the Comprehensive Review Working Group to view a copy of the survey question after the survey had been released was also denied.

Even the usually upbeat Human Rights Campaign Fund, who showed such enthusiasm for the compromise and repeal process just months ago, is described as having a “tepid support” for the survey in the Washington Post:

“While surveying the troops on an issue like this is problematic from the start and the questions exhibit clear bias, the fact remains that this study exists,” said HRC spokesman Michael Cole. “We urge the department to analyze the results with an understanding of the inherent bias in the questions and use it as a tool to implement open service quickly and smoothly.”

Good faith has been extended to the Pentagon by these groups, on behalf of all LGB servicemembers. It is a shame the Pentagon is not meeting good faith with good faith.


Corporal Brett Edward Stout was a Russian cryptologic linguist and weapons marksmanship intstructor. In 2002, he was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps. Portrait from Proud to Serve, a photography project by Brooklyn photographer, Jo Ann Santangelo. She is currently planning a tour to photograph more LGBT Veterans, learn more.

Update 1: If you’d like to see the survey for yourself, it is linked here (PDF). Thanks to Mother of Zeus for that suggestion.

Update 2: Repeal advocate and posterboy Lt. Dan Choi weighed in on Twitter last night offering this:

Pentagon #DADT survey is a putrid stain on the morality of America. History will not forgive.

Don’t mince words, tell us how you really feel, Lt.

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‘These Are Our National Secrets’: Democrat Slams GOP for Ignoring Trump Classified Documents Found ‘In the S——’



U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) blasted House Republicans for ignoring the hundreds of classified documents photographed on stage and “in the s——” at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and residence, while going after President Joe Biden who she said not one witness at Thursday’s impeachment “inquiry” had identified what crime he allegedly committed.

“As I prepared,” Rep. Crockett told members of the House Oversight Committee Thursday, “I said, ‘What is the crime?’ Because when you’re talking about impeachment, you’re talking about high crimes and misdemeanors, and I can’t seem to find the crime and honestly, no one has testified of what crime they believe the President of the United States has committed.”

“But when we started talking about things that look like evidence, they want to act like they blind, they don’t know what this is,” Crockett said, waving photographs of boxes allegedly containing classified and top secret documents on stage and in a restroom at Mar-a-Lago.

RELATED: ‘He Knows I’m Right’: Democrat Mocks ‘Scared’ McCarthy and Blows Off Chairman Comer in ‘Very Unserious’ Hearing

“These are our national secrets, looks like in the s—— to me,” she said, as NBC News described her remarks. “This looks like more evidence of our national secrets, say on the stage at Mar-a-Lago. When we’re talking about somebody that’s committed high crimes it’s at least indictments, let’s say 32 counts related to unauthorized retention of national security secrets, seven counts related to obstructing the investigation. Three false statements, one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, falsifying business records, conspiracy to defraud the United States, two counts related to efforts to obstruct the vote certification proceedings, one count of conspiracy to violate civil rights, 23 counts related to forgery or false documents statements, eight counts related to soliciting, and I could go on because he’s got 91 counts pending right now.”

“But I will tell you what the President [Biden] has been guilty of. He has unfortunately been guilty of loving his child unconditionally, and that is the only evidence that they have brought forward and honestly, I hope and pray that my parents love me half as much as he loves his child. Until they find some evidence we need to get back to the people’s work, which means keeping this government open so that people don’t go hungry in the streets of the United States, and I will yield.”

Congresswoman Crockett’s remarks quickly went viral, with just this video getting 4.6 million views in just four hours.

Watch below or at this link.

RELATED: ‘Flying Monkeys on a Mission for the Wicked Witch’: Raskin Rips Republicans Over Impeachment ‘Inquiry’

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‘He Knows I’m Right’: Democrat Mocks ‘Scared’ McCarthy and Blows Off Chairman Comer in ‘Very Unserious’ Hearing



During House Republicans’ impeachment “inquiry” into President Joe Biden, U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL) detailed Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s transition from refusing to allow a vote for an impeachment inquiry to ordering his top Chairmen to initiate an impeachment “inquiry” in the span of just twelve days.

Congressman Frost, the youngest member of the House, called the Speaker “scared,” before turning his attention to the GOP’s witnesses who he said “are not giving us any basis or giving us any evidence or anything,” angering Republican Oversight Chairman Jim Comer, who interjected, “That’s not true.”

Rep. Frost refused to allow the Chairman to interrupt him, and shot back, “Reclaiming my time.”

“These these witnesses are not giving any answers. They’re just asking more questions,” Rep. Frost continued.

While challenging the credibility of the GOP’s witnesses, Frost said there was “one witness who has a lot of questions .. one witness who knows something about accounting but has no real involvement,” and then accused the third witness, the well-known attorney and commentator Jonathan Turley, of “stopping here on his way to his next Fox News hit.”

READ MORE: ‘All Those Biden Towers’ Where ‘Influence Was Used’: Democrat Turns Tables and Mocks Republicans in Sarcastic Q&A

Frost noted that had McCarthy put an impeachment inquiry on the floor for a vote, it “would lose on the House floor and be another embarrassment in the long list of embarrassments in this Congress for the Speaker of the House.”

He added that far-right Republicans  threatened “to shut down the government, something that will happen in just two days.” He also noted, “this is the one that really got to [McCarthy], they said you, you’re about to lose your job and they said we will remove you as Speaker of the house.”

“And that scared him so much that Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the House, the United States House of Representatives, third in line to the presidency, completely caved due to the threats of people within his own caucus.”

READ MORE: ‘Flying Monkeys on a Mission for the Wicked Witch’: Raskin Rips Republicans Over Impeachment ‘Inquiry’

Pointing to Chairman Comer, Frost on social media said, “He had to interrupt me because he knows I’m right. They say that this isn’t an impeachment, it’s an impeachment ‘inquiry’ to get answers. Then they call up witnesses that are just asking more questions and not providing any answers or evidence. This hearing is very unserious.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.



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‘All Those Biden Towers’ Where ‘Influence Was Used’: Democrat Turns Tables and Mocks Republicans in Sarcastic Q&A



U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) turned the tables on Republicans during the House Oversight Committee’s first impeachment “inquiry” into President Joe Biden by sarcastically referring to “all those Biden towers all over the world where foreign partnerships were formed and influence was used here in the US,” forcing the witness to correct him and point out he actually meant ex-President Donald Trump.

The hearing, chaired by Rep. Jim Comer (R-KY) was widely seen as another failed effort by House Republicans against President Biden. It took a turn when Republicans’ own witness, law professor and Fox News media contributor Jonathan Turley told them he saw no evidence that warrants an impeachment of the President.

Meanwhile, Congressman Connelly’s scathing remarks quickly spread across social media, garnering hundreds of thousands of views views in just hours.

“Um, well let’s see,” Connolly began, slowly, “I’m looking at, um, I heard again, um, I think it was professor Hurley talk about – – because he’s not prejudging of course, but he’s just suggesting that maybe we want to look into criminal activity like obstruction, fraud, and abuse of power.”

“So let’s take fraud. So shouldn’t we be concerned that a New York judge just found President Biden’s organization committing fraud every year for the last 10 or 15 years,” Connolly continued, “and that, under the Martin law, that Biden organization is now subject to dismemberment and dismantlement because of the fraudulent activity?”

READ MORE: ‘Flying Monkeys on a Mission for the Wicked Witch’: Raskin Rips Republicans Over Impeachment ‘Inquiry’

“That should be of concern to Mr. Trump,” the witness, Professor Michael Gerhardt, replied.

“Mr. Trump again!” Connolly sarcastically exclaimed, feigning surprise. “And in this case, we’re not speculating, a judge actually made that ruling?”

“Yes sir,” Gerhardt replied.

”Should we be concerned about the personal – I mean, while we’re at it, while we’re loading on – shouldn’t we be concerned about the personal behavior of the President, for example, President Trump or President Biden, being found guilty of sexual assault and defamation associated with that activity, again in a civil court?”

“We should be concerned as it related to Mr. Trump,” Gerhardt again replied.

“With Mr. Trump again?” Connolly again said mockingly.

“I just think that one of the reasons we’re here is because somebody has been indicted in four different locales, on four different sets of concerns, with I think 81, 91 actual counts, and has been found guilty in two civil proceedings, one involving sexual behavior and one on actual corporate fraudulent activity. And we don’t want to talk about any of that. We want to speculate about discredited testimony from discredited witnesses,” Connolly added.

“Distract, deflect, dissemble,” Connolly added. “I think this hearing’s all about ‘look over here, not over there.’”

READ MORE: Poll Finds Majority Oppose Impeachment Inquiry as House GOP Kicks Off Hearings Two Days Before Likely Shutdown

“I’ve heard concerns about ‘branding,'” Connolly continued. “So, shouldn’t we be concerned about all those Biden towers all over the world where foreign partnerships were formed and influence was used here in the United States? I’ve seen these towers in Indonesia, in the Philippines, in Turkey. I even saw one in Chicago. Shouldn’t that be a source of concern of this committee in terms of influence, both foreign and domestic, when Biden became president?”

“If there were such things as ‘Biden building,'” Gerhardt said.

“Well, was there anyone who did have them?” Connolly asked. “Well, could you tell us? Just give me the name.”

“I think we’re talking about Mr. Trump,” Gerhardt replied.

“So, when President Biden appointed his son to manage U.S. foreign policy, both in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East peace, by the way, a son who couldn’t qualify for getting a security clearance, but President Biden apparently granted it to Hunter anyhow – and then, after leaving the White House, getting a $2 billion deal … shouldn’t that be of concern to us that maybe a sweetheart deal occurred with the blessing of the president, with foreign money, and shouldn’t we look into Hunter Biden for that, given the fact that the handled Middle East peace in the White House?”

“It should have been a concern with President Trump and his son-in-law,” Gerhardt said.

“Oh Trump. I got that wrong again,” snarked Congressman Connolly.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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