On This Week with George Stephanopoulos John McCain is asked what he thinks of the military's policy "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy toward gays and lesbians:
Stephanopoulos: How about this issue of Don't Ask Don't Tell? It's now been the devil in the military for fifteen, sixteen years right now. Growing support to reform the policy. More than a hundred members of Congress say it should be reformed. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs like General Shalikashvili have said it should be reformed. Where are you on that today and how would you reform the policy if at all?
McCain: Again I've said for months, I'll be glad to have a thorough review of the policy by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their recommendations. You might recall it was General Powell who weighed in early on back in the Clinton administration and said we need to have this policy and it's been successful. We now have the best trained, best equipped, most professional military in the history of this country in my view. So I would rely on a study by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as how the impact of changing this policy would have on our ability to carry out our military missions and then I would make judgements from there.
But in all due respect, right now the military is functioning extremely well in very difficult conditions. We have to have an assessment on recruitment, on retention and all the other aspects of the impact on our military if we change the policy. In my view, and I know that a lot of people don’t agree with that, the policy has been working and I think it’s been working well.
Choi isn’t alone. Since 1994, DADT has resulted in the discharge of more than 13,000 military personnel across the services, including approximately 800 with skills deemed “mission critical,” such as pilots, combat engineers, and linguists. According to a 2005 report from the Government Accountability Office, “the cost of discharging and replacing service members fired because of their sexual orientation during the policy’s first 10 years totaled at least $190.5 million — roughly $20,000 per discharged service member.
It’s unclear how these facts led McCain to conclude that the policy is “working well.”