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I was shocked to see that a three-star general (Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of the U.S. Army in the Pacific) was reprimanded concerning comments he made regarding his opinion of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" law ("General rebuked for letter opposing repeal," article, March 26).

I agree with Adm. Mike Mullen (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) when he stated: "I think as a three-star leader in command, by virtue of just that position alone he has great influence." But that is where I stop.

I believe that the U.S. Constitution, as stated in the First and 14th amendments, allows individuals to express information, ideas and opinions free of government restrictions based on content. I understand that the military is different, and there are restrictions based on necessity — what military-affiliated person doesn’t?

What I don’t understand is why Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Mullen and the Army are creating policies based on their opinion, while trying to ensure others in less-public offices (i.e. the rest of the U.S. military) can’t state their own. By censoring this general’s comments, policymakers [could try] to get laws changed clandestinely.

This law doesn’t affect the general public; instead, it affects only servicemembers. Because of policies such as the one Mixon was rebuked for breaking, the "don’t ask, don’t tell" law could be changed without opposition from those it affects most. By censoring comments such as this, the U.S. government [could do] one of its greatest assets a huge disservice and stab them in the back at the same time.

Susan ReillyYokota Air Base, Japan

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