No one can say rape, and sexual assault, and sexual harassment aren’t problems in the military. One of the greatest hurdles to reducing it to levels no worse than those in society in general is that the enforcement of the laws, and regulations, is in the hands of people who have an interest in hiding it.
Even if we assume the commanders who get reports of assaults are opposed to them, and want to prevent them, those assaults show up if someone looks for them. They reflect on the “unit environment”, which means they reflect on the unit’s commander. That commander is the first person to review a claim of assault. If the commander isn’t implicated; then the victim has the additional hurdle that they can be denied the right to appeal to an outside investigator.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act, which would remove this sort of conflict of interest (one which conflicts with the interest of actually providing justice, and something more akin to a rape-free environment for soldiers), by taking these cases out of the chain of command, and moving it to a special prosecutor in the military.
Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, offered a measure that would give military prosecutors rather than commanders the power to decide which sexual assault crimes to try, with the goal of increasing the number of people who report crimes without fear of retaliation. Mr. Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said he would replace Ms. Gillibrand’s measure — which has 27 co-sponsors, including four Republicans — with one that would require a senior military officer to review decisions by commanders who decline to prosecute sexual assault cases. Although Mr. Levin’s measure would change the current system, it would keep prosecution of sexual assault cases within the chain of command, as the military wants.
Carl Levin, (D-MI) is stripping it from the bill.
This is bullshit. It’s also counterproductive. Soldiers actually do have a recourse to a chain of command which isn’t being responsive in this sort of situation. They can ignore it, and take the case out of the military’s hands altogether. They can go to the local police and file a complaint. That’ s going to look a lot worse, because it won’t be a line in an evaluation of the unit, but a piece in the local paper, where it’s a lot harder to hide.
The Pentagon admits to 26,000 assaults last year. How is that going to look if it’s not 26,000 in-house cases, but say… 10,000 investigations by the local police?
Levin needs to stop sucking up to the brass, and start thinking about justice. There are a lot more Privates then there are Generals. Then again, he’s retiring, so he doesn’t care. It’s even possible (if I were the cynical sort) that he’s looking to his personal future, and where the high-paying, “consultancy” and board positions are.
But you can still tell him what you think.