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Friday, January 21, 2011


"Don't Ask, Don't Tell"...about McClatchy's math skills

McClatchy's Nancy Youssef (generally a reporter I respect) is out with an article today about the cost (financial only) of the misnamed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The problem is that Youssef simply prints the GAO press release without question. The GAO report says that the cost has been "$193 million over six years" (costs which basically stem from the cost to retrain replacements for those kicked out).

What's the problem? Well, DADT has been in effect (note, not "was", but "has been" - it's still in effect) for a lot more than six years - since 1993, to be exact. And why didn't the GAO include those costs? Because "the military had been unable to determine the cost of "don't ask, don't tell" prior to 2004, because not all the services could provide information on training expenses." Oh please. First of all, just because "not all the services" could provide information, they still could have included the costs for those who did. And, whatever GAO did or did not calculate, McClatchy's Youssef certainly could have provided the reader with a simple "back of the envelope" calculation.

I'll do it for her. The report includes the expulsion of 3,664 gay and lesbian soldiers out of a total of the approximately 13,500 service members expelled since the policy took effect. Without factoring in inflation, which will make my calculation slightly high, that projects to a total DADT cost of $711 million, the better part of a billion dollars and one heck of a lot more than the $193 million figured offered by the GAO (and McClatchy).

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