U.S. defense officials deliberately skewed survey results to sway ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An explosive document from the U.S. military’s top investigative office has revealed evidence that a Pentagon survey pivotal to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal was engineered months prior to its release, and deliberately skewed in later media leaks, to sway Congress towards repeal despite opposition from combat troops.
An unredacted version of the April 2011 report by the Defense department’s Inspector General was leaked to the conservative Center for Military Readiness, and a slightly redacted version was confirmed as authentic by a Defense spokesperson to LifeSiteNews.com.
The authors found that Jeh Johnson, a co-chair of the commission handling the survey, had breached the document’s non-disclosure agreements by discussing an early draft of the document with “a former news anchor” and “close personal friend” on or around July 4, 2010. The purpose of the meeting, almost six months before the survey’s official end, was to obtain “suggestions for persuasive writing” in addition to syntax and sentence structure, according to investigators.
When the former news anchor was confronted, the IG reports that the individual said he/she was “pleased that finally the United States was getting around to this idea [repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’] and I was struck by how many members of the United States Armed Services thought this was just fine.” The individual said that he/she reached the conclusion about troops favoring repeal based on a sentence in the document she saw in July.
However, according to the survey itself, the survey’s 103 questions were not transmitted to troops until July 7, and were available online through August 15.
Further evidence of tampering emerged while investigating a source who breached non-disclosure agreements by leaking survey results to the media weeks before its release. Investigators concluded that, in addition to violating protocol, the source was “not a ‘disinterested party’” and deliberately skewed the information to favor a repeal of DADT.
“[E]vidence showed the source carefully disclosed specific survey data to support a pro-repeal agenda ... to gain momentum in support of a legislative change during the ‘lame duck’ session of Congress,” write the authors.
Investigators even say the source, who had access to the near-final survey draft, acted in spite of presumed opposition from military servicemen themselves.
“Early evidence suggested that the primary source of the information was someone who had a strong emotional attachment to the issue of furthering a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and probably had ‘assumptions going in’ that the [Comprehensive Review Working Group]‘s findings would ultimately reveal a repeal would not be supported by a majority of Service members,” states the report.
The document notes that “96 of the 101 individuals” with access to the draft report’s data “each denied under oath” that they were the source, leaving too little evidence to reveal the source’s identity. The remaining five, all White House officials whom Johnson briefed on the survey on November 9, appear not to have been questioned.
Two prominent recipients of the leaked information, the authors of a November 11 Washington Post article, claimed that 70 percent of military respondents said the effect of a DADT repeal would “positive, mixed, or nonexistent” and that the results had “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.”
But investigators note that the Post’s enormously influential figure could have been re-phrased for the exact opposite effect, hinging upon use of the “mixed effect” statistic.
“If [Post authors] Mr. O’Keefe’s and Mr. Jaffe’s sources had 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,’” wrote officials.
Taken apart from the “mixed effect” statistic, the survey’s findings show evidence of strong opposition to repeal, particularly among troops with on-the-ground experience. Among respondents with combat deployment experience since September 11, 2011, four times as many troops said that a repeal would have a negative or very negative impact in a field environment than those who anticipated a positive/very positive impact - 44 percent to 11 percent.
In addition, over twelve times as many Marine combat troops said repeal would impact unit readiness negatively as those who responded positively, while Army combat troops were six times more likely to be negative than positive.
The skewed representation, however, eventually became a sturdy talking point for both media and policymakers in the months after the November 30 release.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates defended repeal in December by asserting that “a strong majority of those who answered the survey - more than two-thirds - do not object” to repeal. In an AP report Friday on Obama’s scheduled repeal announcement, the survey was similarly represented as finding that “two thirds of troops did not care if the ban ended.”
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