The US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexual soldiers has the perverse effect of protecting bigots who commit violence against homosexuals, while preventing homosexuals who comply with the policy from seeking protection, says a former Navy officer.
In an article published in Sunday’s Washington Post, Joseph Rocha, a former petty officer stationed in Bahrain during the early years of the Iraq war, wrote: “The irony of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is that it protects bigots and punishes gays who comply.”
Because homosexuals can’t admit their sexuality to senior officers, they can’t complain about abuses, and that provides cover for those committing violence against them, Rocha explained.
Rocha’s criticism of “dont’ ask, don’t tell” comes on the heels of a gay-rights march on Washington, DC, this past weekend, ahead of which President Barack Obama gave a speech in which pledged to end the policy. But many gay-rights activists have accused the president of dragging his heels on the policy change.
Shortly after joining the Navy’s canine bomb-sniffing unit in Bahrain in 2004, Rocha says he was subjected to repeated hazing by his commanding officer. CNN reports that Rocha and others in his unit were subjected to numerous acts of humiliation, including being hog-tied, being force-fed dog treats, and being duct-taped to a chair and left inside a dog kennel.
“Shop talk in the unit revolved around sex, either the prostitute-filled parties of days past or the escapades my comrades looked forward to,” Rocha wrote in the Post. “They interpreted my silence and total lack of interest as an admission of homosexuality. My higher-ups seemed to think that gave them the right to bind me to chairs, ridicule me, hose me down and lock me in a feces-filled dog kennel.
“I told no one about what I was living through,” Rocha continued. “I feared that reporting the abuse would lead to an investigation into my sexuality. My leaders and fellow sailors were punishing me for keeping my sexuality to myself, punishing me because I wouldn’t ‘tell.'”
The man Rocha blamed for the abuses was his commanding officer, Chief Master-at-Arms Michael Toussaint. But following an investigation, the Navy decided to charge the unit’s second-in-command, Petty Officer Jennifer Valdivia. Toussaint has since been promoted and now works with the Navy Seals.
Valdivia was herself the victim of hazing. Rocha described to CNN how Valdivia was once “dressed only in a bedsheet, handcuffed to a bed, and forced into a catfight with two other women.”
After learning she would be blamed for the hazing, Valdivia committed suicide, leaving behind a message on her MySpace page in which she said she was “tired of being blamed for other people’s mistakes.”
Following a Youth Radio investigation into the matter earlier this year, members of Congress are beginning to sit up and take notice. Rocha’s ordeal is being championed by US House Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), a former Navy admiral who, according to CNN, “is so disturbed about allegations of abuse and hazing in the Navy’s canine unit in Bahrain he’s demanding answers from the Navy, asking the same question some sailors are: Where is the accountability?”
Sestak has reportedly requested an inquiry into Rocha’s allegations, sending a letter to Navy Secretary Raymond Mabus asking for answers about the allegations.
This video is from CNN’s American Morning, broadcast Oct. 12, 2009.
Former Chinese premier Li Peng, the ‘Butcher of Beijing’, dies aged 90
Former Chinese premier Li Peng -- known as the "Butcher of Beijing" for his role in the Tiananmen Square crackdown -- has died at the age of 90, state media said Tuesday.
Li died of an unspecified illness in Beijing after he failed to respond to medical treatment late Monday, the official Xinhua news agency said. The ex-premier had previously battled bladder cancer.
Li gained notoriety worldwide as one of the key architects of the brutal breakup of mass pro-democracy demonstrations in the capital on June 4, 1989, and stayed at the top of the Communist regime for more than a decade, while remaining a hated symbol of the repression until his death.
Black couple’s marriage proposal party interrupted multiple times by white security guards accusing them of theft
According to a report at WHEC, a black couple who drove to a park where the man intended to propose were interrupted and harassed three times by security guards who accused them of stealing a T-shirt at a gift shop.
In a Facebook post, Cathy-Marie Hamlet explained that she and her fiancé, Clyde Jackson, were sitting at a table outside the Angry Orchard gift shop when a female security guard approached them and accused Jackson of stealing the shirt and asked to check his pockets.
Prime Minister Imran Khan claims Pakistani intelligence led CIA to bin Laden
Pakistan's main spy agency provided the US with a lead that helped them find and kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Monday.
Pakistan has until now officially denied having any knowledge of the terror chief until he was shot dead in a night time raid by US special forces on May 2, 2011, an incident that was a major national embarrassment and caused ties between the two countries to plummet.
Khan, who is visiting Washington on his first official trip, made his claim in an interview with Fox News when he was asked whether his country would release a jailed doctor whose fake immunization drive helped the US track and kill bin Laden in 2011.