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Networks Dance Around Political, Ideological Motives for Blocking Pace Renomination

Citing unnamed sources, CNN and The Washington Post reported that Congressional leaders opposed the renomination of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace in part because of his publicly expressed moral opposition to homosexual behavior, and also because of a character reference he provided to convicted White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. 


In contrast, NBC, CBS, ABC and The New York Times mentioned no reasons for opposition to Pace apart from military matters.


Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced at a June 8 Pentagon press conference that he would not re-nominate Pace because of fears that the Senate confirmation process “would be quite contentious”:

 

“I have decided that at this moment in our history, the nation, our men and women in uniform, and General Pace himself would not be well served by a divisive ordeal in selecting the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” 


In a June 8 story, The New York Times calls Pace “the highest-ranking officer to be a political casualty of the fight over Iraq.” According to the Times, critics allege Pace was “too deferential” to the “civilian leadership” of Donald Rumsfeld and “too inattentive” to conditions on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But there may be more to the story than certain legislative leaders are willing to admit publicly. 


CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr delivered a June 8 special report that drops some clues:


“…sources tell CNN that General Pace was also, in addition to the war, facing two significant problems on Capitol Hill. His recent statements that he believes homosexual behavior is immoral, and a letter he wrote to the judge in the Scooter Libby case attesting to Mr. Libby's character.”


On March 11, 2007, Pace criticized homosexual behavior in the military to the Chicago Tribune in an interview about the government's “don't ask, don't tell” policy:


 "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts. I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way. As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior.”


A controversy ensued, and Pace apologized for being too candid about his personal opinions.  


On May 21, Pace wrote a letter to District Court Judge Reggie Walton supporting “Scooter” Libby. ”I was always very impressed with Mr. Libby's professionalism and his focus and attention to the matters at hand.” 


The Washington Post also stated in a June 9 story the link between Pace's firing and his alleged homophobia:


“But congressional staffers said there was concern from both parties that Pace's confirmation hearing could evoke bitter debate about Iraq war policy. Some said Pace's recent comments to reporters at the Chicago Tribune about the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, in which he said homosexuality was immoral, would also be a distracting issue. 'It was apparent to people on both sides that this was going to get ugly, and not just over Iraq' said one staffer.”


A homosexual activist organization attributed opposition to Pace to his moral stand.  “Congressional leaders, in warning Secretary of Defense Gates that Pace's remarks would be an obstacle to his confirmation, have sent a clear message that anti-gay prejudice has no place in public policy debates,” declared Sharra E. Greer, director of law and policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.


“Those who held General Pace responsible for his irresponsible remarks should be commended for taking a courageous stand in favor of our military personnel.”


By stating his moral views publicly, General Pace is the person who demonstrated true courage.  How “courageous” is it for members of Congress to “take a stand” behind a cloak of anonymity? 


David Niedrauer is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.