Federal Eye Eye Opener: Big day for 'don't ask, don't tell'

Happy Tuesday! Lawmakers on Tuesday will hold the first hearing on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy since July 2008, when Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen are expected to announce the creation of a group to assess how to carry out a full repeal of the decades-old policy that requires gays to keep their sexual orientation secret.

But the policy isn't going anywhere anytime soon, as Gates and Mullen are expected to tell the Senate Armed Services Committee that it could take years to integrate gay men and lesbians fully into the military, according to The Post's Craig Whitlock and Michael D. Shear. (The Federal Eye will live blog the Senate hearing, which is slated to begin around Noon ET.) Two appointees will be named to oversee a group that will draw up plans for integrating the armed forces, according to sources familiar with the Pentagon's deliberations on the subject. The planning effort is expected to take up to a year.

Gates -- who fired a top general on Monday for his failure to oversee the Joint Strike Fighter program -- has asked Pentagon lawyers whether the military could ignore allegations made by snitches, civilians or other third parties. Under such a scenario, gay military personnel would face discharge only if they themselves declare their sexual orientation. It's expected the military will let up on such charges in the interim while the group meets.

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