Oppose Promotion of Major General Robert T. Clark to Lieutenant General
October 10, 2002
Please contact members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services directly, urging them to reject the nomination of Major General Robert T. Clark for promotion to Lieutenant General. NOW strongly opposes Clark's nomination, as do many other groups including the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and the People for the American Way, based on his failure to protect lesbian and gay service members from anti-gay violence while he was Commanding General at Fort Campbell, Ky. Under Clark's reckless leadership, anti-gay harassment flourished on base, eventually leading to the murder of Private First Class Barry Winchell.
Clark, who has failed to take responsibility for the violence against Winchell, must be held accountable. His questionable disregard for ensuring equal safety for all soldiers sends the message that anti-gay discrimination and violence are allowed in the U.S. armed forces.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services is set to vote on Clark's nomination TOMORROW, Friday, Oct. 11, 2002. Please call or email your senator immediately, especially if she/he is a member of the Armed Services Committee. You can find committee members' email addresses here: http://www.senate.gov/~armed_services/members.htm
Following is a list of the senators on the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services and their phone numbers:
George W. Bush nominated Major General Robert T. Clark, former Commanding General of Fort Campbell, Ky., for promotion to the Army's second-highest rank of Lieutenant General. While in command at Fort Campbell, Clark demonstrated irresponsible leadership in failing to protect his soldiers against discrimination and violence. Most notably, his complacency in the face of direct violation of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue, Don't Harass" policy led to the murder of Private First Class Barry Winchell.
Winchell was targeted, assaulted, and murdered by fellow soldiers because he was believed gay. On the morning of July 5, 1999, Winchell was attacked and brutally beaten in his barracks at Fort Campbell, Ky. and died the following day as a result of his injuries.
Clark failed miserably to make improvements in the climate at Fort Campbell with respect to anti-gay harassment, revealing a fundamental breakdown in leadership. Investigations conducted after Winchell's murder found significant levels of anti-gay harassment under Clark's command, including anti-gay graffiti, anti-gay joking and bantering amongst soldiers, and anti-gay verbal taunting and abuse. Though mandated by federal law, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy was not enforced by Clark. An army investigation also found that "there was no DADT sustainment training conducted at Fort Campbell and that most officers, NCOs and soldiers at Fort Campbell lacked an understanding and working knowledge of the DADT."
Though Winchell's brutal attack proved strong evidence of dangerous conditions and much-needed intervention at Fort Campbell, Clark's failure of leadership continued even after the murder. By refusing to meet with Winchell's parents, failing to condemn anti-gay harassment and allowing anti-gay rhetoric to continue at Fort Campbell, Clark failed in his duties to follow and enforce federal law and protect his troops.
I urge you to oppose the confirmation of Major General Robert T. Clark to promotion of Lieutenant General. I am especially concerned about the facts surrounding the death of Private First Class Barry Winchell at Fort Campbell, Kentucky while under Clark's command and the implications for his leadership abilities.
We believe that promoting Clark to Lieutenant General will send the wrong message to soldiers and officers in the Armed Forces, giving them a clear signal that leaders will not be held accountable for anti-gay harassment and violence under their commands, even in violation of Congressionally mandated policy.
I urge you to hold hearings on this nominee to reveal the facts surrounding Winchell's murder and then reject the nomination based on his failure to follow the law and protect his troops.
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