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Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Friday condemned the leak of a Pentagon study looking at ending a ban on gays in the US military, launching a probe into the disclosure.
The Pentagon had planned to announce the results of the internal review in December but the Washington Post published details of the study’s findings on Thursday, citing two unnamed sources.
“The secretary strongly condemns the unauthorized release of information related to this report and has directed an investigation to establish who communicated with the Washington Post or any other news organization without authorization and in violation of Department policy and his specific instruction,” his press secretary Geoff Morrell said in a statement.
Gates “is very concerned and extremely disappointed that unnamed sources within the Department of Defense have selectively revealed aspects of the draft findings” of the report, Morrell said.
The leak was designed “presumably to shape perceptions of the report prior to its release,” he said.
The long-awaited report could influence debate in Congress where a previous attempt this year to end a ban on gays serving openly in the US military went down to defeat, despite appeals from President Barack Obama.
According to the Washington Post, the review — which included a survey of troops — found that the United States could lift the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces with little risk to current war efforts.
More than 70 percent of troops said the effect of repealing the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, the Post reported.
“The survey results 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,” the Post wrote.
The White House is pushing for repeal of the 1993 law this year in a lame duck session of Congress before a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives is sworn in next year.
The law, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” bars gay troops from openly declaring their sexual orientation or else face expulsion.
Gates has stressed the need for an orderly process if the ban is lifted, and rejected criticism from activists that the Pentagon has moved too slowly on the issue.
A former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gates has expressed frustration in the past over leaks of policy deliberations and classified information.
Copyright © 2010 AFP Ltd.