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President seeks better implementation of 'don't ask, don't tell'

December 11, 1999
Web posted at: 5:19 p.m. EST (2219 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton said on Saturday that he is working with the Pentagon to consider a better way to implement his administration's don't-ask, don't-tell policy for gays in the military.

"What I'd like to do is focus on making the policy we announced back in 1993 work the way it's intended to, because it's out of whack now, and I don't think any serious person could say it's not," Clinton said in a CBS Radio interview.

graphic
 

Clinton's comments came after a military jury sentenced an 18-year-old Fort Campbell, Kentucky, soldier to life in prison with the possibility of parole on Thursday for killing another soldier, who was rumored to be gay, last July.

Army Pfc. Calvin Glover was convicted Wednesday of premeditated murder in the bludgeoning death of Pfc. Barry Winchell.

"I can only hope this last brutal beating death of a gay soldier will give some sobering impetus to a reexamination about how this policy is implemented, and whether we can do a better job of fulfilling its original intent," Clinton said.

Original plan was rejected

He also said he did not implement the policy until the Senate rejected his original plan to allow gays to serve openly in the military.

The original intent, Clinton said, "was that people would not be rooted out, that they would not be questioned out, that this focused on people's conduct, and if they did not violate the code of conduct, and if they didn't tell their comings and goings, the mail they got, the associates they had, that those things would not be sufficient to kick them out of the military, or certainly subject them to harassment."

'No problem' with Hillary Clinton's comments

Clinton said that he had "no problem" with his wife's criticism of the policy on Thursday at a press conference in New York, where she is running for U.S. Senate.

"I don't believe 'don't ask, don't tell' has worked, and I don't believe it is ultimately the policy we should have in our military," Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the news conference. "I believe Americans willing to serve their country should be allowed to do so.

Responding to her comments, the president said Saturday, "After all, that's what I said back in '93."


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