This week’s Friday evening news dump included the announcement that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is investigating who in the Defense Department leaked the results of a forthcoming “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” report to the Washington Post. Based on two anonymous sources, one of which has “read the report in full,” the Pentagon study group will conclude that the ban on gays in the military can be lifted “with only minimal and islolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts,” according to the Post. Now Gates wants to know who publicized the results early.
Gates is angry that two unnamed officials cited in the Post article have “selectively revealed aspects of the draft findings” of the Pentagon’s Working Group, according to a statement released late Friday afternoon by Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.
“The secretary strongly condemns the unauthorized release of information related to this report and has directed an investigation to establish who communicated with The Washington Post or any other news organization without authorization and in violation of department policy and his specific instruction.”
The findings of the report, which is due to the president on December 1, were slated to become public only after it is completed for fear that “[r]eleasing aspects of the report would affect public perceptions just weeks before the issue is likely to emerge again in Congress,” according to the government, but in the words of Politico.
This, however, from the Post, seems inarguable: “The survey results led the report’s authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them.”
Of course, the push and pull between politics and journalism, with anonymous sources at the intersection, is everlasting. Everyone has an agenda, obviously, but Gates’ probe may indicate competing interests even within the Pentagon:
“The early leaks of the report have provided the only real hope that [President Barack] Obama’s promised repeal might still get done this year,” Richard Socarides, an attorney worked as an adviser on gay rights issues in the Clinton White House, told POLITICO Friday. “We assumed they were authorized at some level. Perhaps just more evidence that there is more than one Pentagon agenda at work here.”
In part, Gates’ memo read, “I am concerned that the department has grown lax in how we engage with the media, often in contravention of established rules and procedures.”
So, uh, did anyone see Fair Game last night?