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At 'Don't Ask' Hearing: McCain Is Critical Of Report, Mullen Pushes For Repeal

A couple notes from the start of this morning's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Pentagon report that concludes the "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring openly gay men and women from serving in the military can and should be repealed:

-- Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, criticized the report for, in his opinion, not adequately answering a critical question. "What I want to know, and what it is the Congress’s duty to determine, is not can our armed forces implement a repeal of this law, but whether the law should be repealed," McCain said. "Unfortunately, that key issue was not the focus of this study.

-- Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators that "I've been serving with gays and lesbians my whole career. ... We never missed a mission" because of that. And, he said, "don't think for one moment that I haven't carefully considered the impact of the advice I give. ... I would not recommend repeal of this law if I did not believe in may soul ... it was the right thing to do."

Also this morning, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson restated the Pentagon's position that it much prefers action by Congress now to repeal don't ask over the prospect of additional court cases over the issue.

The hearing is being streamed here by C-SPAN.org.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.