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Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) sought the assurance of Defense Department leaders this week that they would make good on a commitment to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Congressional Democrats have been eyeing the upcoming Defense authorization measure as a vehicle to scrap the ban on openly gay people from serving in the military, but last week Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) not to take that route.

Seeking assurances that the Defense Department is still committed to overturning the law, Levin released an exchange of letters between him and Gates on Friday.

“Is the purpose of this comprehensive review to determine ‘whether’ to repeal the statute or is it to assess the issues related to ‘how’ to implement the statute?” Levin asked in a letter sent to Gates on Monday.

In a response sent Thursday to Levin, Gates stated that the review was to determine “the impact of repealing (the law) and developing a plan to implement such a repeal.”

“The outcome of this review is also intended to fully inform both Presidential and Congressional decision-making to ensure a change in this law properly and fully addresses the various and complex considerations involved,” Gates’ letter read.

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