'This Week' Transcript: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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AMANPOUR (voice-over): Welcome to viewers here and around the world. I'm Christiane Amanpour. And at the top of the news this week, culture wars in the United States military.

CARTWRIGHT: Being more inclusive improves the institution as a whole.

AMOS: My recommendation would be that this is a bad time, Senator.

AMANPOUR: Is "don't ask/don't tell" on its last legs?

MCCAIN: We shouldn't be exercising a rush to judgment.

AMANPOUR: Or will gays continue to serve in silence? We'll hear from all sides, as we go behind the headlines.

Then...

OBAMA: You're going on the offense. Tired of playing defense.

AMANPOUR: ... the start of an ABC News special series on Afghanistan. Nine years into the war, is there light at the end of this tunnel?

And damage done.

CLINTON: This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community.

AMANPOUR: We zero in on policy and personalities exposed by WikiLeaks. A special roundtable with former Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Sakena Yacoobi, an Afghan women's rights activist, and ABC's George Will.

And the Sunday funnies.

BAYH: In all likelihood, there were gay Americans serving at Valley Forge.

STEWART: Evan Bayh expressing surprise that, despite clear reproductive disadvantages, gay people have somehow been around for hundreds of years.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: From all across our world to the heart of our nation's capital, ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour starts now.

AMANPOUR: Hello again.

Back in 1993, the top military brass testified before Congress that homosexuality was incompatible with military service. At Senate hearings this week, none of the military leaders testified that to be the case.

Seventy-five percent of Americans approve of gays serving openly in the military. And in the Pentagon survey of the troops that was released this week, 70 percent of those who responded said having a gay person in their unit would not have a negative effect on their unit's ability to work together to get the job done.

Still, time to act is running out. Congress has other priorities in this lame-duck session. And some in the military say that changing the policy now would distract them from their focus on fighting two wars. In a moment, we'll debate ending "don't ask/don't tell" with our guests here this morning.

But as ABC's John Donvan first reports, the issue of gays in the military is as old as the nation itself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONVAN (voice-over): Hear that sound? That's how General George Washington dealt with it. Informed that one of his officers had an interest in sodomy -- that was the charge -- Washington kicked the man out. Correct that: He had him drummed out, literally, a policy at least with clarity.

Today, on the other hand, we have our oddly-named rule.

MCCAIN: "Don't ask/don't tell."

(UNKNOWN): "Don't ask/don't tell."

COLBERT: "Don't ask/don't tell."

(UNKNOWN): "Don't ask/don't tell."

DONVAN: And a debate only now reaching its crescendo...

PROTESTERS: "Don't ask/don't tell" has got to go, hey, hey.

DONVAN: ... where not just the senators were arguing this week.

MCCAIN: I couldn't disagree more. If we think they're mature enough to fight and die, I think they're mature enough to make a judgment on who they want to serve with.

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