That is what the Obama Justice Department has said about an immediate repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," as ordered by a federal judge. For the record, from the court filing:
The immediate implementation of the injunction would disrupt this review and frustrate the Secretary’s ability to recommend and implement policies that would ensure that any repeal of DADT does not irreparably harm the government’s critical interests in military readiness, combat effectiveness, unit cohesion, morale, good order, discipline, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.
What they're saying is both that retaining the ban hurts "military readiness, combat effectiveness, unit cohesion, morale, good order, discipline, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces" and that precipitously ending the ban hurts "military readiness, combat effectiveness, unit cohesion, morale, good order, discipline, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces."
That's the exquisite knot they have tied themselves into. And it might work, I suppose, if the orderly process was inevitable. But it seems pretty clear to me isn't. The Senate has filibustered this once in a Democratic majority session. What are the odds that, using exactly these Obama arguments about "morale" and "unit cohesion", the GOP will not filibuster again in a lame-duck session even if the military top brass give the go-ahead? I have little doubt there will be enough resistance in the report itself to give the GOP a reason to keep the ban alive.
Here is the president last night on the question:
“We are moving in the direction of ending this policy,” he said. But, he added: “It has to be done in a way that is orderly, because we are involved in a war right now. But this is not a question of whether the policy will end. This policy will end, and it will end on my watch. But I do have an obligation to make sure that I’m following some of the rules. I can’t simply ignore laws that are out there. I’ve got to work to make sure that they are changed.”
What does "orderly" mean? No one is saying it should be chaotic. And if, as he says, the ban can only end by changing the law, and not by any executive stop-loss order, how can he also simply state that the ban "will end on my watch"? He does not control the Congress now, and even less next year. So he cannot mean by the end of his two terms, can he?
(PHOTO: Dan Choi by Kris Connor/Getty/AFP)