Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Problem with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

A story from the Washington post brings me back to my issues with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The piece reports changes to security clearance screening rules enacted by the Bush Administration.

Rules approved by President Bill Clinton in 1997 said that sexual behavior may be a security concern if it involves a criminal offense, suggests an emotional disorder, could subject someone to coercion or shows a lack of judgment.

The regulation stated that sexual orientation "may not be used as a basis for or a disqualifying factor in determining a person's eligibility for a security clearance."

Bush removed that categorical protection, saying instead that security clearances cannot be denied "solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual."

The new rules say behavior that is "strictly private, consensual and discreet" could "mitigate security concerns."
This change is fine with me, because it allows those granting the clearance to use their judgement when deciding whether a behavior is a security concern. My issue with "don't ask, don't tell" is a little more esoteric, but important none the less. First, here's A good summary of the policy from the Wikipedia entry linked above:

More generally, "Don't ask, don't tell" has come to describe any instance in which one person must keep their sexual orientation and any related attributes, including their family, a secret, but where deliberate lying would be undesirable.
My issue with this policy is that any policy that requires a member to deliberately keep something as significant as sexual orientation a secret will require the member to lie at some point, even if it's a lie of omission. And in the services, honesty is a key to integrity and honor.

So, how can Americans, and military and civilian leaders, justify a policy that will ultimately require a member to be secretive and probably dishonest?