February 3, 2010 at 3:13 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Powell endorses Pentagon's 'Don't Ask' review

The former military official who endorsed “Don’t Tell, Don’t Tell” in 1993 has now come out in favor of the Pentagon review process expected to lead to repeal.

Colin Powell, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1993, announced in a statement to the New York Times on Wednesday he supports the study of implementing change currently underway in the Defense Department.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullen proposed on Tuesday the working group that will examine the impact of repeal in congressional testimony.

“In the almost 17 years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,” Powell was quoted as saying. “I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.”

Powell’s support could influence lawmakers who’ve said they wanted to hear from military leaders before acting on repeal to finally support overturning the law.

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said Powell’s statement “represents yet another crushing blow to the failed and archaic” law.

“General Powell is one of the most respected retired military leaders in the United States today, and this announcement should serve as the final nail in the coffin of this outdated law,” Nicholson said. “Hold-out supporters of this failed law should read the writing on the wall now and abandon their attempts to cling to this failed policy.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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