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

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MAGINNIS: I've seen the polls.

AMANPOUR: ... including conservatives and Republicans and seniors, the very people you're talking about.

(CROSSTALK)

DONNELLY: ... a poll, too, that showed that the level of support was about 30 points less than what you're seeing from the Washington Post or other outlets. Civilians have a different view of the military because they lack the experience that the combat troops have.

AMANPOUR: All right. I'm going to go to -- to the Army general, General Wesley Clark. What about this notion that it cannot be done at war? And also, General Clark, if you could break down for us, when people talk about combat effectiveness, unit readiness and morale, what precisely are they talking about? And how could potentially having gays serve openly affect that, if at all?

CLARK: Well, first of all, I -- I do agree with the point that the chairman and the vice chairman made that, if the military's focused on war, this is the ideal time to do it, because we're talking about building teamwork around a common purpose.

And what the survey showed is that essentially all of the servicemembers, 92 percent, agree that they could serve -- they could serve in a unit in combat, and they could work together effectively, and it wouldn't compromise mission readiness.

I think a lot of the survey, honestly, it shows the effects of six, eight months' politicization, continuing coverage in the media, and some of it is just people in the military saying, just leave us alone and let us do our job. They come down on one side or the other of this. Let's just get on with it.

AMANPOUR: But General Clark...

CLARK: I think that when you put people in combat with and you organize them around a task, they're concerned about getting the job done. They're not concerned with what someone puts in a letter to home or who he or she holds dear in their heart.

AMANPOUR: Well, I'm trying to figure out, what is the definition of combat effectiveness and why that might be compromised by gays serving openly? Can you explain that?

(CROSSTALK)

CLARK: Well, I don't -- I think it's a very -- I think if you read the Medal of Honor citation that was recently presented in the White House, you would find what the definition of combat effectiveness is, is people are willing to risk their lives and give their lives for each other in combat.

And people do that because of respect. They do it because of teamwork. They do it because of training. But ultimately, those bonds are about being an American and being a team member. They're -- they're not about locker room talk, and they're not about sexual orientation.

We awarded a Silver Star to a woman who was fantastic in the -- in the Army clearing out a trench line of Iraqi insurgents in 2004, I believe it was, in Iraq. If you read her citation, it was as good as any citation I ever saw from the -- from the Vietnam War. She probably deserved more than a Silver Star and had nothing to do with her gender or her orientation.

And I think that when Americans are in combat together, they pull together on a task, they work together based on a common culture of being an American and a commitment to the unit. And I think that's what's overriding in this case. And I think that's the message behind both the survey and the -- and the majority of the chiefs' testimony.

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