No Timeline for "Don't ask, Don't Tell" Changes

ABC News' Sunlen Miller and Kirit Radia report: Despite President Obama recently saying that he wants to repeal “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy “sooner rather than later,” Pentagon officials tell ABC News that there is no timeline yet to repeal or ease the enforcement of the controversial policy of banning gays from opening serving in the military.

“The Secretary has asked the DoD General Counsel to review the law to determine if there is any flexibility in how this law is applied and there isn't a timetable,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith tells ABC News, “We're looking at the law to see if there's at least a more humane way to apply the law until it gets changed.”

First reported in the Advocate, Smith’s comments indicate a review that seems to be moving at a pace without specific time goals.

Despite this, Smith insists that the President has been “clear in his direction” to Defense Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen that he is committed to overturning the policy in a way that is “least disruptive to troops.”

Repealing the policy requires an act of Congress, something the White House has indicated they’d like to do “in this Congress,” yet have stated that they must not simply ignore the existing law.

“I also want to make sure that we are not simply ignoring a congressional law,” President Obama told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in July, “If Congress passed a law that is constitutionally valid, then it’s not appropriate for the executive branch simply to say we will not enforce a law. It is our duty to enforce laws.”

As first suggested by Secretary Gates, as the administration is persuading a shift in that congressional policy, they have also indicated that there are also looking at ways to change how the law is being enforced and applied currently.

One of these options, Gates suggested last month, could be looking at where the information comes from, and possibility including those who had been “outed” due to vengeance.

“Do we need to be driven when the information, to take action on somebody, if we get that information from somebody who may have vengeance in mind or blackmail or somebody who has been jilted?,” Gates told reporters in July.

The President has said that the appropriate congressional allies have been contacted already to start processing these changes. The question is how fast and aggressive will change come without a timeline? Even the President himself has said before that change is hard to come in Washington without a deadline.

- Sunlen Miller and Kirit Radia

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