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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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July 16, 2013 - 8:57 am

Tea Party GOPs Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have signed on to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) effort to take military sexual assault cases out of the chain of command.

The measure to create an independent system to review and decide whether to bring charges in such cases has been tweaked and honed among a coalition of senators for much of this Congress. The Military Justice Improvement Act moves the decision whether to prosecute any crime punishable by one year or more in confinement to independent military prosecutors, with the exception of 37 crimes deemed “uniquely military in nature,” such as disobeying orders or going Absent Without Leave.

Other proponents of the bill are Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

Advocates point to Pentagon estimates that 25 percent of women and 27 percent of women who reported unwanted sexual contact reported the abuser to be someone in their chain of command.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, citing Defense Department concerns about Congress wading into the command structure, stripped similar language from the National Defense Authorization Act in June, but supporters intend to bring it up as an amendment when the defense reauthorization comes to the floor before August recess.

“The vast majority of our service members are honorable and upstanding individuals. In the instance when one is accused of a serious crime, especially one of harassment or assault, the allegation needs to be taken seriously and conflicts of interest should not impact whether a crime is prosecuted properly,” said Paul.

“Despite good-faith efforts from the chain of command, sexual assault remains a persistent problem. We must act to ensure that assaults are prevented and victims of assault are able to report any crimes that occur. Senator Gillibrand should be commended for her leadership working to modernize our military justice system to protect our men and women from sexual assault, and this amendment makes real progress in that regard,” Cruz said.

“Several of our strongest allies such as Israel, the United Kingdom, and Germany have made similar reforms to their military justice systems, and seen marked improvement,” he added. “I support this amendment and believe it will improve readiness and capability so that the United States military remains the greatest fighting force in the world.”

A Defense Department report on sexual assault in the military found half of female victims stating they didn’t report the crime because they felt nothing would be done about it by their commanders.

An estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact and sexual assaults occurred in fiscal year 2012, a 37 percent increase from FY2011.

Seventy-four percent of females and 60 percent of males perceived one or more barriers to reporting sexual assault, according to the report. Sixty-two percent of victims who reported a sexual assault indicated they perceived some form of retaliation.

The only other Republican co-sponsor on Gillibrand’s bill is Mike Johanns (Neb.).

“I try not to look at issues from a partisan point of view. I’m sure I do sometimes, but I try not to. As a physician, I look at problems and try to find solutions,” Paul said at a press conference this morning.

“The only thing I think standing in the way is just sort of the status quo,” he added. “Senator Boxer was right. Everyone says they are against sexual assault, and if it appears that there is some sort of deterrence from victims reporting the crime, why don’t we fix it? I don’t see why we wouldn’t fix it and I am happy to be a part of the process.”

Cruz said he was” persuaded by Senator Gillibrand’s exceptionally passionate and able advocacy.”

“Now, every senator is opposed to rape, opposed to sexual assault, and wants to act to prevent it. And I’ll tell you, having spoken with a number of our commanders, I’m convinced that our commanders in the military want to see this problem go away, that they understand, they have heard the message, and they are working to make it go away,” Cruz said.

“But unfortunately, this problem has persisted. Despite good-faith repeated efforts, this problem has persisted.”

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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All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
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The last thing that this country needs is more interference by politicians into the military.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I hate to say it, but this smells of ladder climbing politicians, seeking to obligue themselves of a voting demographic in a manner that see as relatively harmless overall in the grand scheme of things. But alas...the Left is playing long ball, and every little step deconstructing the status quo the former order matters.

Shame on Rand and Ted.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The fact is that men and women are co-mingling too much in the military. Being in the military is nothing similar to being in a civilian job. There is much more potential for intimacy and less privacy in the military. Because of this there should be more segregation between the sexes not more integration. This is why the move to put women into combat is a very bad idea. Putting the weaker sex in the front lines will not make our country safer. It will weaken our military and hurt the morale of our fighting men. As usual, the leftists, including the CINC, is using the military as a social engineering project. This project is destined to fail.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Agree totally. And yes, this social experiment will fail, but that fact will only known by those who will be affected by it. The feminists and other leftist wackos will claim progress regardless, all of the data to the contrary will be swept under the carpet and the critics will be silenced.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I bet not one of the Senators on that list have ever served in the military, so they have no idea what they are talking about. They should just shut the heck up.

The guy upthread had it right, too. Just because reports are up, does not mean that assaults are up. It just means that the military system is working. They are effectively addressing the problem. Soon, the number of cases will decline, as people learn they can no longer get away with this.

Military rank confers considerable power, and some people just cannot handle it without abusing it. It is the nature of the beast. One has to have the authority to get the job done, but when that power is combined with poor self-restraint and sexual appetite, it will lead to problems.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"An estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact and sexual assaults occurred in fiscal year 2012, a 37 percent increase from FY2011."

Being in the military, there has been a vast rise in education about Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault since about 2009. Wouldn’t the increase in the percentage of complaints be a direct result of awareness training and educating victims of their options and different ways a person can lodge a complaint? Has anyone done the research to see if this is an actual rise in offenses, or is it just being reported better? BTW, in the Air Force about 50% of sexual assaults the victims are men.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Feminists destroying the military, and it's going right over Rand and Cruz heads. The Marxists are playing chess and Conservatives are playing checkers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If commanders aren't maintaining discipline there is a failure in the command training system. If that failure isn't fixed, changing how offenses against discipline are dealt with won't make any positive difference and will almost certainly make things worse.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are right. This is an integrity issue. From day one in the military, we are told not to drink and drive, not to use illegal drugs, and not to assault/demean women. The same person who chooses to drink and drive, use drugs or assault people are of the same ilk, the DON'T HAVE integrity. At the root, it is integrity. Be sure, most of the offenders have more skeletons in their closet in we keep digging.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you can't trust someone in command of a group of personnel with this responsibility, why are you giving him/her and those personnel weapons? This is typical Congressional overreach, where the Senate and the House think they can micromanage every element of society, because they see something done in a fashion they deem wrong. They may be right, in one or more instances, but the Senate can't run the whole country by itself, and supervise every decision. There needs to be delegation.

They ought to do a review, every few years, and if they find a commanding officer who gives guys a pass regularly (as is alleged by those complaining about this sort of thing) he should be retired, perhaps without a pension. That by itself would serve to counter a lot of this. Soldiers are trained to respect the uniform, and the rank, not the individual wearing them (the idea being that a stranger who's a colonel gets a modicum of respect, because the Army has promoted him/her that far) but obviously somewhere someone decided that respecting females wearing the uniform wasn't quite as necessary. It's obviously a residue of past sexism, and perhaps more than a residue, but the only way you're going to get rid of it, really, is by retraining the army. Putting the Senate in charge of things will just make it worse.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So long as due process isn't lost, that is. I'm not confident that this will protect due process, the rules of evidence and the presumption of innocence, and that it will be tossed under the bus for political points, just as with VAWA.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Taking any prosecution out the military chain of command turns Army into a dysfunctional and very expensive nursing home.

Army will not be able to fight because any time soldier does not feel like risking his life, he/she can slip out of the actions claiming to be a victim of some crime. With DADT removed even all-male units are not guaranteed to remain functional under stress.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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