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Bridget Johnson

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June 13, 2013 - 8:37 am

Democrats are in an internal spat over the effort to take sexual assault prosecutions and appeals out of the chain of military command.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), along with Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Angus King (I-Maine), offered an amendment to the defense reauthorization bill to strike Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) and keep sexual assaults under the purview of military justice.

It passed in committee 17-9.

The Levin amendment requires an independent review by the next higher level of the chain of command in those cases when a commander decides not to prosecute a sexual assault allegation.

“I do not support removing the authority of commanders to prosecute sexual assault cases and putting that decision in the hands of military lawyers outside of the chain of command, as the Personnel Subcommittee provision would do. I believe that doing so would weaken our response to sexual assault and actually make it less likely that sexual assaults would be prosecuted,” Levin said. “The provision in question would also unwisely remove the power of the commander to prosecute other kinds of serious crime, including allegations ranging from homicide to barracks larceny.”

“Removing prosecution decisions from the chain of command would likely weaken our response to sexual assault by taking the responsibility for prosecution away from military commanders – who are actually more likely to prosecute – and instead transferring the responsibility to military lawyers – who are less likely to do so,” the chairman added. “…Removing disciplinary authority to prosecute an offense from commanders would also take away an important tool that they need to change a culture that surely needs change.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), speaking on MSNBC, called it “a bad day for the opportunity that we have to finally get things right here.”

“You know what Carl Levin and his friends did, it’s very disappointing. He’s my friend but I have to tell you, what they did today is embrace the status quo instead of embracing the victims and using this as an opportunity to bring needed change. They kept the commanders in charge. The commander not only decides whether there will be a prosecution, the commander also decides when and where the court martial will be if it goes forward. And they even pick the jury,” Boxer said.

“This is a nightmare, and it has to change, and I predict we’re going to have a real donnybrook on the Senate floor, because we’re not going to let this go by easily, gently into the night.”

Boxer said she, Gillibrand, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will revive the language on the full Senate floor outside of committee.

“My fear is that passing the Chairman’s amendment will look to victims as though we are simply tinkering with the process. The system will essentially remain a black box for them,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.

Gillibrand said she was “deeply disappointed the voices of the victims of sexual assault have been drowned out by the military leaders who have failed to combat this crisis.”

“While, in my view, we did not take all the steps required to solve the problem, there is no doubt we have taken several significant steps forward with the current version of the bill. I will continue to fight to strengthen this bill by offering the Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment when the Defense bill is on the full Senate floor for a vote,” she said. “Our advocacy on this issue to remove the sole decision making of the chain of command in serious crimes has only just begun.”

Gillibrand’s proposal is opposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

“I don’t think you can fix the problem or have accountability within the structure of the military without the command involved in that,” Hagel told the Senate Budget Committee.

Levin said that his language, though, expresses “the sense of Congress that commanding officers are responsible for establishing a command climate in which a victim can report criminal activity, including sexual assault, without fear of retaliation, and should be relieved of command if they fail to do so.”

“This is not an issue on which there is division between those who advocate strong action to address sexual assault in the military and those who don’t,” he said. “…The message we must send to our military is that it has no more important mission today than purging the plague of sexual assault from the ranks, and that we are calling on them and counting on them to win this battle. If we give them the tools they need, they can and will win it.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Hell we should definitely listen to Barbara Boxer, that noted expert on the military chain of command, structure and role as defender of the right of extremely low intelligence women to become powerful Senators (because they earned it). Once we have fully installed political correctness, gender diversity, and Title IX into our armed forces, we'll be soooooooo much safer.

Here's how to stop part of the problem while still satisfying PC - let the gay soldiers share barracks with the females, and segregate the dwindling number of male heteros in their own housing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Someone please tell these idiot feminists that almost as many men get raped in the military every year as do women. About 12k men versus 13k women.

Someone also tell them that military justice is far harsher in its punishments than are civilian courts. They also have a more restricted court system, so there are less shenanigans allowed. If they care about women, they should leave it in the hands of the military.

However, there may be room for an outside review to make sure things are not getting swept under the rug, or that innocent men are not being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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