November 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Pentagon won’t say whether it will back ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal

A Pentagon spokesperson on Thursday reiterated the importance of completing the upcoming Pentagon report on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as he declined to state whether the Defense Department will back repeal of the law after the review is complete.

Geoff Morrell, a Defense Department spokesperson, said during a news conference that whatever action Congress decides to pursue with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is up to lawmakers.

“What Congress decides to do legislatively with regards to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ or any issue for that matter is largely their business,” he said. “They take up things in the order they see fit.”

Morrell emphasized the importance of the Pentagon working group report and said those working on the study are on track for meeting their deadline of Dec. 1 to deliver their findings to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

“I think in 26 days time, the secretary will have the work product that he thinks is so necessary for us to be to fully understand full implications of a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and then what additional measures we need to take in preparation for that eventuality,” Morrell said.

Morrell added Gates believes it’s better to do repeal “smart than stupid” and the finishing the report “is very important to us doing this smartly.”

After the report is complete and reviewed by the secretary, Morrell said the Pentagon would “take measures from there.” Still, Morrell wouldn’t say whether the Defense Department would back repeal at that time.

“I am not prepared at this time … to tell you what action we expect to take upon receipt of the report,” Morrell said.

Additionally, Morrell said he’s unaware of any discharges under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since the Pentagon implemented new regulations on implementing the law. Morrell said it’s unlikely that any separations have taken place since that time.

On Oct. 21, Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued new guidance stating that discharges can only happen under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by the personal approval of the military service secretary of the department concerned “in coordination” with the Pentagon’s general counsel and the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.


Watch the video of Morrell’s remarks here:

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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