General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command and hero to conservatives everywhere, made it pretty clear that he supports repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in an appearance on Meet the Press:
On the issue of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on gays in the military, Petraeus was cautious about saying outright that he supported ending the ban – but indicated that he backed the Obama administration’s effort to do just that.
“I’ll provide that, again, on Capitol Hill, if asked at that time,” Petraeus said about his personal view before adding about the effort led by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen: “I support what our Secretary and Chairman have embarked on here.”
And he went even further:
The general further hinted at his personal view when asked by moderator David Gregory whether troops in the field care if their comrades are gay.
“I’m not sure that they do,” Petraeus said.
He cited the view of Gen. Colin Powell’s, once a supporter of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, that times have changed and pointed out that both the CIA and FBI now allow homosexuals to serve openly in their ranks.
And Petraeus, a 35-year Army veteran, recalled his own service with open gays and lesbians.
“Frankly,” the general said, “over time we said, ‘Hey how is this guy’s shooting, or how is her analysis?”
And he also repeated his condemnation of the use of torture and abuse on detainees:
Petraeus was even more candid when asked about the interrogation methods used during the Bush years, making the case that they ultimately harmed the country more than they helped protect America.
“I have always been on the record – in fact, since 2003 – with the concept of living our values,” he said. “And I think that whenever we have– perhaps taken expedient measures, they have turned around and bitten us in the backside.”
Recalling his service as commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division, the West Pointer said “we decided to obey the Geneva Convention.”
Citing the abuses by U.S. troops in Iraqi prisons, Petraeus observed: “Abu Ghraib and other situations like that are non-biodegradable. They don’t go away. The enemy continues to beat you with them like a stick in the Central Command area of responsibility.”
He said that intelligence could be gleaned without going beyond the traditional methods allowed in his branch of the military.
“We have found that the use of the interrogation methods in the Army Field Manual that was given the force of law by Congress – that that works.”
It’s funny, the Republicans love to scream about how we have to let the military run the military and not have politicians interfere. But the military was opposed to torture right from the start; it was the CIA who pushed it. And now you have the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Gen. Petraeus coming out against it and in favor of repealing DADT and it’s the Republicans who are telling them that they’re wrong.