President Obama Exercises Authority on Detainee Photos but Not Gay Soldiers

I had been planning to write this anyway, but after seeing Lee Stranahan’s video “Segregation” I wanted to wait to see if I could get a comment from the White House on this first.

President Obama’s decision to block the release of detainee abuse photographs on the grounds that their release might endanger US troops is a controversial one but one with which I ultimately agree. However, it has also been pointed out that his failure to stop discharges of gay soldiers also carries some risk. I asked Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about it at today’s briefing:

I didn’t really expect Gibbs to say, “OK, Tommy, we’ll do it if you think it’s a good idea.” I also didn’t ask as a way to make the President the bad guy here.

While I wish the President would put an immediate stop to this, I recognize the political calculus here. A unilateral action now could hamper a more lasting legislative solution later. While the President has demonstrated superb instincts in the past on “keeping the powder dry,” I think people are ready for this, and it is worth the political risk.

I mainly asked about it in hopes of re-framing this issue in the public conversation.

Gibbs’ point is that the detainee photo issue has no legislative remedy, whereas the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy does. Unsaid, but also true, is the fact that the harm caused by the photos would be much more immediate and direct, hence the urgency.

Still, what bothers me about this is the way the right tries to make hay with this, “Gotcha!” style, when they are the ones who have created the political climate that makes it difficult for the President to act here. By inventing a false risk posed to our troops by gay service members, they have put them at real risk.

Aside from that, there’s what I believe to be a moral imperative at work here, eloquently illustrated by the aforementioned video:

Discrimination is already a serious enough issue. When you discriminate against qualified soldiers, it is deadly serious.// Tommy on: Daily Dose:

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2 Comments

  1. […] times I asked Gibbs about DADT, I specifically asked if the policy is a national security risk that makes us less safe.  Gibbs offered tacit agreement on both occasions.  I also asked, both […]

  2. […] the LGBTQ community, particularly his silence on the Prop 8 decision, and on the military’s Don’t ask/Don’t tell policy.  Most recently, the Obama DOJ has taken fire for the manner of its opposition to a challenge to […]


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