Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
A Marine official’s description of a photograph of two males hugging and kissing at a base in Hawaii as “typical” is making the United States military look ridiculous, charges the head of the Center for Military Readiness, which argues for making the military more of a fighting force and less a social experiment.
The image has gotten widespread attention on the Internet. Posted on a “gay Marine” social networking page, it shows Dalan Wells and Brand Morgan. Their reunion after Morgan returned from assignment is what it is, according to Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness.
But she said the Marine Corps description that it is “typical” goes too far.
The statement, which was attributed to a Marine Corps Base Hawaii spokeswoman, was, “It’s your typical homecoming photo.”
“This demonstrates just how fragile the culture of the military is,” Donnelly told WND. “Here she is speaking officially for the Marine Corps. Her statement reflects a cultural reversal.”
Donnelly said the spokeswoman “knows this is not a truthful statement.”
A spokesman in the public affairs office at the Pentagon started stuttering when WND asked if the description of the image as “typical” was correct.
“I don’t know if I’m in a position … I don’t know,” the spokesman said. “I think it would be accurate to say a typical homecoming photo has two who are greeting, one who came back. That would be very typical.”
His response didn’t address the issue at hand.
Donnelly said the new culture, marked by the recent elimination of the 200-plus year old ban on open homosexuality in the military, will rebound on the United States at some point.
“We may find out a hard way,” she said.
She said her criticism is not with the individuals involved but with the policy and atmosphere created by government that allows the behavior.
“I suspect we’ll start seeing gay events on military bases,” she said.
She said when the particular image was made, there were other Marines and their families in the room.
“Not one of those people, Marines or their families, was in a position to state freely what they felt,” she said.
She said while the orders from the commander-in-chief may have been to allow open homosexuality in the ranks, such behavior goes “over the line.”
Pointedly, she asked how such behavior, and the description of the behavior as “typical,” makes the Marines a better fighting unit, more able to defend and protect the Constitution they took an oath to uphold.
It was only days earlier when a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Navy over the manipulation of “gay” data used to convince Congress to overturn the centuries-old ban in the U.S. military on open homosexuality.
It was the military’s original and now-suspect report that famously was quoted as affirming “70 percent” of the nation’s military members believe the repeal of the long-standing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” practice of allowing homosexuals to serve as long as they kept their sexual lifestyle choices to themselves would have either “a neutral or positive impact on unit cohesion, readiness, effectiveness and morale.”
However, the IG in documents uncovered by Donnelly revealed the actual figures for military members were: those who believed the change would impact units “very positively” (6.6 percent), “positively” (11.8 percent), “mixed” (32.1 percent), “negatively” (18.7 percent), “very negatively” (10.9 percent) and “no effect” (19.9 percent).
The only way the 70 percent figure can be reached is to combine “very positively,” “positively,” “mixed” and “no effect.” But this combination counts people with “neutral positions” as favoring the change, Donnelly argued.
Donnelly explained that taking the same figures and lumping them on the other side with “negatively” and “very negatively” would produce a total of almost 82 percent of the soldiers who believe the results of the change would be “negative or neutral.”
The IG report uncovered by Donnelly said exactly that:
We considered that the primary source’s likely pro-repeal sentiment was further demonstrated by his/her inclusion of the key 70 percent figure in the information provided to the Washington Post. … Had [the source] desired to further an anti-repeal bias for the article, he/she could likewise have combined four results categories from that same survey question to conclude that “82 percent of respondents said the effect of repealing the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy would be negative, mixed or no effect.”
The Thomas More Law Center announced a federal FOIA lawsuit against the Navy, seeking to obtain records that are expected to show intentional deception by the Pentagon “to gain congressional support for repeal of the 1993 law regarding open homosexual conduct in the military, usually called ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
The lawsuit is based on the IG report obtained by Donnelly, “which suggested that a distorted Pentagon study of homosexuals in the military was produced and leaked solely to persuade Congress to lift the ban on open homosexuality.”
Erin Mersino, the attorney handling the blockbuster case, said the organization already has tried to obtain information.
“The Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy have failed to produce a single document despite numerous FOIA requests over the last two years for information to uncover the truth surrounding the congressional repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” she said.
The case was launched in U.S. District Court in Washington on behalf of Donnelly and the Center for Military Readiness. It seeks information to determine the extent to which the Navy engaged “in a campaign of deception as suggested by the Inspector General’s Report.”
That documents how the co-chairman of the commission working on the assessment of the impact on the military, Jeh Johnson, “read portions of ‘an early draft’ of the executive summary … to a former news anchor, a close personal friend visiting Mr. Johnson’s home” three days before service members even were given the survey.
“Contrary to most news accounts, the ‘Comprehensive Review Working Group’ process was not a ‘study,’” Donnelly told WND. “Its purpose was to circumvent and neutralize military opposition to repeal of the law.”
She described the study “was a publicly funded pre-scripted production put on just for show.”
“The … report, completed on April 8, 2011, reveals improper activities and deception that misled members of Congress in order ‘to gain momentum in support of a legislative change during the ‘lame duck’ session of Congress following the November 2, 2010, elections,’” she wrote.
Donnelly explained that days before the survey was distributed, Johnson “was seeking advice from a ‘former news anchor’ on how to write the report’s executive summary more ‘persuasively.’”
Further, “The DoD IG report concluded that someone who ‘had a strongly emotional attachment to the issue’ and ‘likely a pro-repeal agenda’ violated security rules and leaked selected, half-true information to the Washington Post,” she explained.
Within days of the military’s repeal of its ban on open homosexuality, two members of Congress pointed out that the Department of Defense even to that point had failed to fulfill its obligations to prepare for the change.
The letter was from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., and Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., the chairman of the personnel subcommittee.
It was addressed to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, whose media office declined to respond to a WND request for comment.