Pentagon Will Investigate Harassment of Homosexual Troops

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - Defense Secretary William Cohen on Monday ordered an investigation at US military bases to determine whether homosexuals in uniform are being harassed under a controversial "don't ask, don't tell'' policy toward gays in the armed forces.

Wire service reports say Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon announced the probe. It will be conducted over the next 90 days at a number of major bases in the aftermath of last week's murder conviction of a soldier at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for beating a gay soldier to death with a baseball bat.

President Clinton, under whom the policy was introduced in 1993, said over the weekend that the rule has not worked the way it was intended. It allows homosexuals to serve in the military so long as they do not openly discuss their sexual preference or engage in homosexual acts.

"Secretary Cohen has asked the Department of Defense Inspector General to check major installations in all the services to assess the human relations environment with respect to the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy,'' Bacon told reporters. He said acting Pentagon Inspector General Donald Mancuso would decide to which bases investigative teams will be sent and that Mancuso had been ordered to report back to Cohen in 90 days.

The "don't ask, don't tell'' policy, which reversed a half-century ban on homosexuals in the military, was meant to allow gays and lesbians to serve quietly in uniform. But civil rights groups charge that harassment is growing and that the number of homosexuals being drummed out of the military is rising.