(August 1, 2017) Even though the tweet last week about barring transgender people from the military came from the commander in chief, it is not an order, according to the Pentagon.
“What you saw in the form of a tweet represented an announcement,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman, told reporters Monday. “Orders and announcements are different things, and we are awaiting an order from the commander in chief to proceed.”
President Donald Trump’s Twitter message Wednesday said the “United States Government will not accept or allow . . . Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the tweet “direction.” In an internal memo to Pentagon leaders, he wrote, “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.”
Several thousand transgender troops now serve in the military, according to various estimates. Under a policy put in place by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, transgender people were to be given full clearance to serve in the military. That policy was delayed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who wanted more study of the policy’s impact on readiness.
The Washington Examiner today says the Pentagon may not be on solid ground legally regarding the president’s tweet, although that, too, is not clear. The newspaper quotes a military law attorney’s blog post saying, “What President Abraham Lincoln might have done by letter or telegram today might well be done by email or social media.”
But Eugene Fidell also says Trump’s tweets represent only a broad policy and not the specifics required for implementation.
Davis said, “I would expect something of this nature to have a piece of paper associated with