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Representative Jackie Speier of California delivered a fiery speech from the floor on last Wednesday in response to the Pentagon's releasing of the latest sexual assault statistics within the ranks, calling the statistics an “abomination.” She took the House of Representatives itself to task from the floor. Transcript:

I rise today to speak about an abomination, and I vow to speak about it every week until this Congress and this administration, does something more than offer lip service.

Read my lips, the military must end rape in this country. And those who commit such crimes must be brought to justice, the fact that women are being raped and our government is turning a blind eye is disturbing enough. Even worse, it is not our enemies abroad that are committing these horrific crimes, it's American soldiers abusing many of our own, often with nothing more than a slap of on the wrist and sometimes with an unbelievable promotion.

We have a military culture that condones and sometimes rewards this kind of abusive and violent behavior against female soldiers, who are now more likely to be raped by fellow soldiers than killed by enemy fire.

This is a national disgrace and the longer it goes on unaddressed, Congress becomes an accomplice in these crimes.

You know we in Congress do something really well, we hold hearings and then we do nothing.

Congress has held 18 hearings in the last 16 years on this issue and nothing has changed.

The Department of Defense estimates that over 19,000 servicemembers were raped or sexually assaulted in 2010. But due to fear of retribution and failure to prosecute these crimes only 13.5% are reported. These are Department of Defense figures. 19,000 soldiers raped in the military every year.

So beginning today I'm going to tell these women's stories on the House floor, and I"m going to keep telling them and keep telling them until something is done about it.

Earlier this year, 17 servicemembers, 15 of them women, filed a lawsuit against the Federal Government, accusing the Pentagon of ignoring their own cases of sexual assault.

The Congresswoman goes on the describe the story of Technical Sargent Mary Gallagher, and goes into pretty graphic detail (warning NSFW, if your volume is up). Gallagher's story is here. She concludes, "Sgt Gallagher fought for us, it's time for us to fight for her."

The most recent report was released on March 18, 2011

Last year, the U.S. Armed Forces received a total of 3,158 reports of sexual assault involving Service members - a 2% decrease in overall reporting from 2009, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

The report entitled, “Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military” includes a broad spectrum of offenses ranging from rape to wrongful sexual contact, which are addressed by Articles 120,125, and 80 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Incidents involved assaults on people in uniform by fellow military members and by civilians, according to the DoD’s report.

A 2% decrease from 2009 sounds great. But consider this, in March 8, 2010, Time Magazine reported a 9% increase in 2009 from 2008:

The Pentagon's latest figures show that nearly 3,000 women were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008, up 9% from the year before; among women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number rose 25%. When you look at the entire universe of female veterans, close to a third say they were victims of rape or assault while they were serving — twice the rate in the civilian population..

Four steps back, one step forward. Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), [PDF] had this to say about the report of March 18, 2011:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) published the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. The 622 page report details sexual assaults from each branch of the service for fiscal year 2010.  The numbers indicate that cases of rape and sexual assault have not decreased, and that the military is no closer to ending this crisis in the ranks.   

In FY2010, there were 3,158 total reports of sexual assault in the military.  The DOD estimates  that this number only represents 13.5% of total assaults in 2010, making the total number of military rapes and sexual assaults in excess of 19,000 for FY 2010.    

“This latest report clearly shows that the military’s response to rape and sexual assault within its own ranks has been both inadequate and ineffective,” said Anu Bhagwati, former Marine Corps captain and executive director of the Service Women’s Action Network.  “This crime continues to see massive amounts of underreporting because victims do not feel the climate is safe to report, and perpetrators are not being brought to trial in sufficient numbers.”  

Sexual assaults flourish in environments where the assaults are two-fold, the initial attack and a process that further victimizes the reporters of the attack. Women's rights groups have done much work to address this dynamic in civilian life. Many police departments and criminal justice systems have adopted practices that protect victims from consequential backlash that used to be far more common. But there's good reason to believe the military has been slow to follow suit.

From Time:

The problem is even worse than that. The Pentagon estimates that 80% to 90% of sexual assaults go unreported, and it's no wonder. Anonymity is all but impossible; a Government Accountability Office report concluded that most victims stay silent because of "the belief that nothing would be done; fear of ostracism, harassment, or ridicule; and concern that peers would gossip." More than half feared they would be labeled troublemakers. A civilian who is raped can get confidential, or "privileged," advice from her doctors, lawyers, victim advocates; the only privilege in the military applies to chaplains. A civilian who knows her assailant has a much better chance of avoiding him than does a soldier at a remote base, where filing charges can be a career killer — not for the assailant but the victim. Women worry that they will be removed from their units for their own "protection" and talk about not wanting to undermine their missions or the cohesion of their units. And then some just do the math: only 8% of cases that are investigated end in prosecution, compared with 40% for civilians arrested for sex crimes. Astonishingly, about 80% of those convicted are honorably discharged nonetheless.

Also from SWAN, [PDF]

Along with the Annual Report, the DOD also released its 2010 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members, which surveys service members every two years about sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace.  This report indicates that the military’s climate of fear and intimidation around sexual assault reporting still exists.  The survey reveals that:
  • 67% of women are “uncomfortable” with reporting
  • 54% “fear reprisal”, and
  • 46% of both men and women in the military believe that sexual assault was “not important enough” to report at all.

Representative Jane Harmon told CNN in 2008:

"My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41 percent of the female veterans seen there say they were victims of sexual assault while serving in the military," said Harman, who has long sought better protection of women in the military.

Harmon's gone, and there seem to be no legislative movement call on the Pentagon to address necessary institutional reforms and I have to ask why?

We may soon see redress come in the form of the judiciary remedy. The lawsuit Congresswoman Speier references is Cioca et al v. Rumsfeld et al which also names current Defense Secretary Gates. Technical Sargent Mary Gallagher is among the plaintiffs. The firm of Burke, PLLC, in consult with SWAN, filed on a class action lawsuit filed in February. It alleges the Pentagon's failure to act on allegations under the military justice system violated the Plaintiff's Substantive Due Process rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. The complaint is here, it reads:

Cioca et al v. Rumsfeld et al

1. This action seeks monetary damages under Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 397 (1971) and Davis v. Passman, 442 US 228 (1979) to compensate Plaintiffs for being raped, assaulted and harassed while serving this nation as member s of the military.

2. Defendants violated Plaintiffs' Constitutional rights. As detailed in the allegations below, Defendants failed to prevent Plaintiffs and others from being raped and sexually assaulted. Defendants failed to (1) investigate rapes and sexual assaults, (2) prosecute perpetrators, (3) provide an adequate judicial system as required by the Uniform Military Justice Act, and (4) abide by Congressional deadlines to implement Congressionally-ordered institutional reforms to stop rapes and other sexual assaults.

3. Instead, Defendants ran institutions in which perpetrators were promoted and where military personnel openly mocked and flouted the modest Congressionally-mandated institutional reforms. Defendants ran institutions in which Plaintiffs and other victims were openly subjected to retaliation, were encouraged to refrain from reporting rapes and sexual assaults in a manner that would have permitted prosecution, and were ordered to keep quiet and refrain from telling anyone about the criminal acts of their work colleagues. Defendants lack any legal justification for their failures to remedy such a flawed system. Defendants' failures to act violated Plaintiffs' individual Constitutional rights.

Details from the complaint include:

SGT deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. Her supervisor sexually harassed her, stating on one occasion that he “really wanted to fuck [her] right now.” On another occasion, as SGT's peers watched, he walked up behind SGT Havrilla, grabbed her waist and kissed and bit the back of her neck. He began to slap her bottom whenever he passed by. He also belittled and mocked SGT. SGT suffered from the harassment to such a degree that she sought medical assistance.

Subsequently, SGT worked with an individual from a canine unit. That same colleague raped her. He pulled her into his bed, held her down, and raped her. He also photographed the rape. SGT reported the sexual harassment and rape within approximately one month, under the military' s restricted reporting policy.

In February of 2009 SGT reported for four weeks of active duty training. During this training, she saw her rapist in the shopette on Fort Leonard Wood. Upon seeing her rapist, SGT went into shock. She immediately sought the assistance of the military chaplain. When SGT met with the military chaplain, he told her that "it must have been God's will for her to be raped" and recommended that she attend church more frequently.

SGT suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic depression.

Another victim's story:
Private served in the Army from February 2009 until June 2009. During basic training, PVT Jeloudov was verbally harassed by his fellow soldiers. One two different occasions, PVT colleagues said “We'll send you back to Russia split in half, you commie faggot,” and “Now you champagne socialist faggot from New York gonna get what you deserve.”

On May 17, 2009, PVT was raped in his barracks. PVT reported the rape to Command. His Command laughed at him. His drill sergeant turned to another sergeant present, stating “Can you believe this shit?”

Rather than properly investigate the matter, Command instead forced PVT to sign a typed statement on May 19,2009, stating - falsely - that he was a “practicing homosexual.” Command then used the statement to discharge PVT under the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

PVT suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

This private is hardly an isolated incident. The military is finally taking notice of male on male sexual assault as well. From Newsweek, April 3:
In fact, it is the high victimization rate of female soldiers—women in the armed forces are now more likely to be assaulted by a fellow soldier than killed in combat—that has helped cast light on men assaulting other men. For most of military history, there was neither a system nor language in place to deal with incidents of soldier-on-soldier sexual assault. It wasn’t until 1992 that the Defense Department even acknowledged such incidents as an offense, and initially only female victims were recognized. But last year more than 110 men made confidential reports of sexual assault by other men, nearly three times as many as in 2007.

Perhaps just as judiciary pressure helped pushed DADT repeal through congress, this action will prove helpful for moving the DOD on the issue.

What can be done?

This seems like a no-brainer for Democrats to tackle, although from Speier's speech we need to do more than hold hearing. After 18 hearings, it's time for Congress to flex some real civilian control over this issue.SWAN has a petition up at asking:

Take action today and demand your representatives in Congress hold the Armed Forces accountable for this crisis and to immediately develop and implement a comprehensive plan to eliminate rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment from our nation's military forever.

In a recent discussion of this, I was dismayed to see someone respond to concerns about women being assaulted as thus:

The day rape never happens in the military will be the day rape never happens on college campuses and in college dorms.

Sexual assault need not be just an ugly fact of serving and to suggest so is to excuse the Department of Defense's responsibility to care for all its troops. As long as the DOD is actively recruiting Americans' daughters and placing them in an environment that is unacceptably unsafe they must be called to answer for this problem.

The military has to move beyond the "boys will be boys" attitude that has allowed a culture of preying on women to flourish in the military. The rates of rape in military setting are nowhere near what anyone should consider an acceptable level of risk. The overwhelming majority of these are within the ranks, not "enemy assaults." With the military's tightly controlled population, traditions of strict discipline it's perfectly reasonable to expect assaults to be lower in a military environment than in civilian life.

One wonders what sort of more ordinary day-to-day indignities our women in uniform must suffer in an environment where the crime of rape is too often not taken seriously?

When I heard New York's Senator Kirsten Gillbrand was added to the Senate Armed Services Committee it struck me as a good opportunity for an ambitious woman to use her power to continue to push our military to embrace a new era. We can, even the face of Speaker Boehner continue to push for a lasting progressive agenda of change. First Lady Michelle Obama too has taken on military issues as a cause, I would suggest she might be well-served to look into this one as well.

The DOD currently has access to decade after decade of study data to crunch to identify what it is about this environment that makes it such a very unsafe for women. They also have access to billions and billions of dollars to hire the best minds in the field of psychology, human resources, criminal investigation and sexual assault experts to task of solving this problem.

It's way past time to see real progress made.

Time magazine concluded:

The failure to provide a basic guarantee of safety to women, who now represent 15% of the armed forces, is not just a moral issue, or a morale issue. What does it say if the military can't or won't protect the people we ask to protect us?

I couldn't agree more. We've been assured the military is doing all they can. But it's past time to demand they do more still.
In July 2009, President Barack Obama signed the WASP Congressional Gold Medal into law.

Originally posted to Milk Men And Women on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 09:27 AM PDT.

Also republished by California politics, Rape and Domestic Violence, Progressive Policy Zone, The Amateur Left, and Angry Gays.

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Comment Preferences

  •  So many WTF moments for me in this diary. (37+ / 0-)

    But this one was the worst.

    When SGT met with the military chaplain, he told her that "it must have been God's will for her to be raped" and recommended that she attend church more frequently.

    That chaplain should have been thrown out of the fucking military for that. Beyond unacceptable.

    This is what happens when we live in a society where questioning the military is unpatriotic.

    I'm gay and I'm pissed. I'm not giving up, I'm not giving in, I'm not backing down, and I'm not going away. I'm one of the Angry Gays. Deal with it.

    by psychodrew on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 09:47:58 AM PDT

    •  Jackie Speier used to be my LA City Council woman (8+ / 0-)

      and she's a tenacious fighter. I'm hopeful this will not just die amidst the RW/Blue Dog-run WH and Congress.  The evangelicalization of the U.S. military is, of course, appalling, and the victimization will only get worse until we root out the barbarians from the officer (and chaplain) corps.

      No more acceptable than the military looking the other way with the thousands of neo-Nazis and white supremacist skinheads training for race war in the service (for when they return home).  Many veterans and other former military folks, as well as non-military civilians, are appalled by how unprofessional and uncivilized the U.S. military service has become.  The rapes, the civilian kill squads, and the torture are all symptoms of a sick organizational and command environment.

      Conservatives are] engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; ...the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. JK Galbraith

      by Vtdblue on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 10:02:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thrown out of the military, (10+ / 0-)

      and elected to the Idaho state legislature?  (They use the "God's will" thing to justify requiring women who are raped to carry the fetus to term.)

      This touches on the fact that the military chaplancy has become increasingly evangelical in recent years.  

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 10:08:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I've known a few military chaplains (7+ / 0-)

      over the years. They were always military first, Jesus second.

      But there's another issue, one that we're not allowed to talk about because we're stupid civilians who know nothing about how the military works, and that's our military culture holds civilian culture, and our laws and our ideas of what's morally acceptable, in utter contempt. It makes sense--given what our current wars have demanded of them, they have had to do a lot that we civilians would likely find contemptible if not egregiously wrong. Like the butchering Rutgers journalists, covering it up, and then pursuing an extralegal witchhunt on the people who exposed it. And so you can imagine they have little patience when we civilians whine like little girls about this or that. In the military's eyes, a good civilian "patriot" is one who shuts the fuck up, doesn't ask questions and definitely doesn't criticize how the military does anything.

      Our military at the moment is hyper-geared towards war, far more than it was during Vietnam, and war is not a civilized thing. So the military really doesn't think it has to hold its soldiers to any rule of civilized conduct. And whenever civil conduct goes out the window, people get exploited, and always the most vulnerable. Usually that means women. It's all part of war, in their eyes.

      The only thing that'll make the military accountable for when they go too far into the "war is hell" territory is the civilian influence. Funny that our CoC is, as designated by the Constitution, a civilian, It's like our Founders got that. But when our CoC fails us, we have Congress. And when Congress fails, we have the American people (cf. Vietnam).

      •  Wow. I totally disagree. I'm a civilian, I've (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, Oh Mary Oh

        worked in DoD for years, I've married a retired Army officer and I've never met anyone in uniform with the attitudes you describe.  I believe they exist, probably closer to combat than I get, but I do not believe they dominate the military.

        I'm actually related to someone who got kicked out of the military for having a consensual relationship across the officer/enlisted line.  The enlisted did not file a complaint, the relationship was discovered and the military enforced the UMC despite the engagement ring.

        I think you may be generalizing too far.

  •  It's not just boys will be boys, it's heterosexual (17+ / 0-)

    Christian(ist) male supremacism.

    For anyone trying to twist my words, no, I've nothing against Christian heterosexual males.  Heterosexual males are among my best friends, and I have many Christian friends too.

    The point is, the military has been run like a club.  This includes the free speech destroying DADT.  It's not that kind of free speech that sinks ships, it's the kind of free speech that some heterosexual males seem threatened with.

    So, we are more concerned with protecting Fred Phelps when he tells the families of gay men they are going to hell at funerals, than we are concerned with someone being drummed out of military for even thinking privately they are gay, and having material that can be found out to that effect.

    This is why the sexual assault statistics in the military are so stunning.  It's because it's run like a straight men's club.  The rules, hell, the rules are designed to make it possible to sexually assault a woman and keep her silent with blackmail.  Or a man for that matter.

  •  Well, you know when you tell people (11+ / 0-)

    they can't talk about their sexual interests, that pretty much includes disinterest.

    DADT was made the law of the land in line with the thinking that if people have volunteered to give up their lives in the service of their country, they've pretty much surrendered all their other humans rights, as well.  So, being raped is sort of a lesser-included sacrifice.

    That authority which stands silent in the face of abuse becomes complicit is not very well understood.  If it were, our agents of government would not be so quick to compromise our human rights.

    by hannah on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 09:50:32 AM PDT

  •  Every time I read the reports... (21+ / 0-)

    ...of sexual assault in the military, it infuriates me. But what most infuriates me is the fact that we know from experience in the rest of society that the reports are really just the tip of the iceberg. Who's ultimately responsible? Speier has it right.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 09:54:49 AM PDT

    •  Exactly (6+ / 0-)

      PLEASE donate to a global children's PEACE project: Chalk 4 Peace

      by RumsfeldResign on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 09:57:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This really comes to the point for me (13+ / 0-)

      where I'll admit, No. I don't have the magic bullet to fix it. But I don't have billions of dollars and countless decades of data. We elect people to solve these problems. That these reports come out year after year, virtually the same, says to me, whatever they're doing isn't enough.

      In researching this I ran into articles from 1993, after Tailhook, saying the military was taking this very seriously and heralding a new era in the military where women would be treated better...


      It is better to marry than to be tortured continually with ungratified desire. 1 Corinthians 7:9

      by Scott Wooledge on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 10:04:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's the military CULTURE. (8+ / 0-)

      The chain of command is heterosexual and male and acts to protect those people, generally, from responsibility for sexual assault.

      There are undoubtedly many, perhaps most, people in the ranks who serve with good will and have no intention of putting certain groups of people ahead of others in a social pecking order.  But just the fact of the chain of command being overly male and Christian is a problem, to me.

      Heads need to roll, yes, not only for sexual assault but for both sexual, gender based and religious favoritism in every aspect of military life.

      Heads need to roll especially for those who conceal or protect sexual predators.

      •  That, Chain of Command... (0+ / 0-)

        goes right up to POTUS.  

        If POTUS wanted things to change, as Commander and Chief, he could get it done.  Just like any company or University, the top man, CEO, Chancellor, or whoever, can make real changes in the organization if he wants to.  POTUS makes political appointments to Secretaries of the Army, Navy, etc.  They have a lot of clout on promotions of senior officers who have a lot of clout over junior officers etc.  Congresswoman Speier needs to take the worst cases directly to President Obama.  If she can convince him that justice was not fairly applied, he is a good and honorable man and I am sure as Commander and Chief, he will correct the problem.

      •  I don't honestly think that's true (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oh Mary Oh

        Having served in the military, being a survivor of rape in the military, I don't honestly believe that there is any sort of organized effort to cover up and minimize rape specifically.

        The issue is that victims absolutely do not feel safe to report. Not because of a potential coverup, but because of the nature of military life. When your judge and your boss are the same person, when the person you're supposed to report to (or whom the cops will call) when you're the victim of a crime is the same person who writes your performance evaluations is the same person who gives you your job assignments is the same person you go drinking with every Friday, when both of those people know your rapist, and when there's an intricate spiderweb connecting those three people with essentially everyone else you know...reporting is a whole lot more complex than it sounds. Even if everyone in the spiderweb were completely sympathetic and victim-friendly and not at all misogynistic, it would still be daunting.

        •  But kyril, that's what I'm saying. That's what you (0+ / 0-)

          are DESCRIBING.

          You need to have a culture that is more open to the world than that Joe knows Bob and that Joe and Bob drink together.

          To be honest, I'm going with the Starship Troopers analogy, socially.

          You need to inculcate to Joe and Bob that Joe and Bob are human beings to Joe and Bob and not clubby heterosexual males who have a filial relationship that involves demonizing and abusing the lesser women and homosexual classes in the military -- their only being in the military because extremely high classes ordered it.

          Furthermore, that Grace and Kelly can order Joe and Bob, and that what it is to be the U.S. military is not about what Joe and Bob want in some distant machismo sense of the word.  Or the world.

          That the word, sometimes, is more complex than simply breaking shit and even if it were, perhaps Joe and Bob are not the most intelligent people in the world to go about how it is to go about most efficiently breaking shit in the most cost efficient manner possible.

          That, perhaps, a homosexual male with a background in computer science might be quite equipped to break shit if breaking shit is necessary.

          BUT EVEN MORESO, to inculcate and include the people necessary to understand that BREAKING SHIT IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST WAY FORWARD IN THE WORLD and that the United States military doesn't always have the best answer for life, the universe, and everything.

          But, I will settle for the U.S. Military obeying the orders of the operative U.S. civilian authority.

          Is that a radical concept in 2011?


          Excuse me for saying this, but why are we talking about Joe and Bob?

          At all?

          Why are we specifically talking about their icky feelings about women in positions of authority or similarly situated gay men?

          Joe and Bob are CHATTEL.

          Now, if you don't like that, let's revisit the nature of military institutions and adventures.

          Otherwise, Joe and Bob need to know, very clearly, along with everyone else who might enlist in a voluntary mission, they're chattel, and no better than any woman who gives them orders, or any homosexual above them in the chain of command who might eye their packages.

          That's part of the job.

          It's not given to heterosexual males, to disavow parts of the job, simply because they do the same things to others, and that there are more of them.

          We can debate the nature of military institutions and their appropriateness in the 21st century at all another time.  After gay men and women have their rights and their freedom from criminal sexual behavior.

        •  And it's not about the specificity It's about the (0+ / 0-)


          Heterosexual self described Christian males own the U.S. military.

          Do you think they will not sexually assault you?  The more hostile evil members, I mean?

          They will.  And the commanders will find a way to make it a non-issue.


          I mean, it's about OWNERSHIP, yes?

          Straight, white, male Christians.  This, and their violence and their thought process .. they own the U.S. military.  And the values they have are U.S. military values of rape and pillage from exceptionalism, right?  They are white, heterosexual, male, U.S. citizens and superior, so raping people is ok for them.  They own the U.S. military.  Or they think they do.  Right?

          You say I'm making it simple, but I have been in places where straight heterosexual males think they own things.

          Explain how this is different?  I mean, we are talking about a problem and an issue, right?  An issue where there is no particular justice or interest in it, right?

          Are you going to stand there and tell me, this, what I'm referring to, can have nothing to do with it?  The fact that they own the U.S. military. By extension, they own YOU.  They own every female, every homosexual (though, straight christian men being homophobic, gay men being forbidden entirely).

          I talked about SUPREMACY, kyril.

          This is what I mean.  A woman can be included.  

          Theoretically, a gay man can be included.

          But, ultimately, heterosexual Christian males are the OWNERS. And they are owners, because,  to America, heterosexual Christian males are the owners of everything.

          They give you your job assignments, but ultimately, they OWN the military.

          And they, by extension, own you.

  •  Congress should pass a law (14+ / 0-)

    demanding that all the resources previously used to investigate and prosecute those charged with DADT violations should now be directed at investigating and prosecuting rape charges.

    Speier could introduce such a bill.

  •  Hasn't Senator Franken also... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jpmassar, jayden, Clarknt67, psychodrew, sfbob

    ...come out as a strong advocate on this issue? I recall him taking a stand against the Blackwater (or similar) group for their abuses as well?

    I hope Jackie can get something done on this, she is definitely a tenacious advocate once she locks onto something.

    Being gay is natural, hating gay is a lifestyle choice. - John Fugelsang

    by cooper888 on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 10:41:31 AM PDT

  •  There seem to be parallels here between sexual (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    assault crimes in the military and sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church.  The higher ups hold the institution's image in higher regard than the sanctity of the life of the victim.  All the more reason to ignore the zealots who are always wailing about the sanctity of life.  They're kidding, of course.  

  •  Here's what the Army has done (6+ / 0-)

    1. Created positions solely for prosecuting sexual assault crimes and mandated that those "special victim prosecutors" must sit on every single sexual assault court-martial, and those SVPs are the most experienced (for the most part) criminal law practitioners in the military.

    2. Hired highly qualified experts, aka civilians with extensive experience in prosecuting sexual assaults.

    3. Created an environment with both anonymous reporting and reporting designed to go to trial (which obviously cannot be anonymous).

    4. Hired rape victim advocates at every single base.

    5. Mandatory sexual assault training, I believe semi-annually but could just be annually.

    6. Instituted a reporting system outside of the chain of command.

    Further, the military has:

    1. changed the laws so that consent is not an issue in most rape cases (mirroring the most victim friendly statutes out there). This means the defendant must prove consent existed, and the government does not have to prove BRD it didn't exist. (Caveat, this provision is losing in the courts to some extent for constitutional reasons).

    2. Long ago adopted rules 413 and 414 which allow in the right framework prior rape acquittals to be used as evidence that an accused committed the current sexual assault.

    So, given all of that, I'm curious what folks think is missing from all of that, and how it compares to what goes on in the civilian world. I don't know what the true sexual assault numbers are, either in the military or the civilian world so I do not automatically buy that it is twice as bad in the military (nor do I automatically reject that number).

    What I do know is that the civilian experts we've hired say that we take cases to trial that would never see the light of day in the civilian world, but the civilian world isn't under the microscope.

    As a defense attorney, I saw a lot of cases not go to trial because quite frankly, they were losers. The ones I did see go to trial, I or someone I knew on the defense side got acquittals every single time on nonconsensual sex. Granted, this was back when consent was still a government burden, but the fact of the matter is rape is a hard crime to prove BRD because most of the time, it is not a stranger in the bushes rape, it's a rape alleged that involves alcohol, a prior relationship, and no witnesses, and a victim who often has given multiple versions of her allegation.

    To top it off, who did I want on my panels (jury)? Women. Because they were most likely to be skeptical of the victim's allegation. If you want to blame something for the lack of rape convictions, I'd say blame the large percentage of conservative women in the military.

    I know of one prosecutor just recently who wasn't too bent out of shape over a lost case because, while the woman was drunk, she was really responsible because of what she was wearing.

    It's cultural attitudes that have to change, and the military is not going to be able to write a regulation or hold a class to change that anytime soon.

  •  Excellent diary, Clark. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clarknt67, psychodrew

    Many thanks.

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 10:59:51 AM PDT

  •  As someone who was personally affected (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, Clarknt67

    by this, I applaud Rep. Speier's efforts.

    Nonetheless, I'm not sure what can be done about it. I have trouble even imagining a military climate where I would have felt safe to report what happened to me. There's no real confidentiality in the military. Everyone knows everything about everyone else's business. The judge is your boss. Your friends, supervisors, mentors, confidants, they're all the same people, and they're all friends with the admin clerks and the legal counsel and the enlisted aides to the CO. You can't have a disciplinary proceeding without the whole command being aware of it. That's part of the design of the disciplinary system - it's not a bug, it's a feature.

    So how do you report a rape in that environment? I don't know how anyone does it.

  •  Rec (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    X 1,000.

    This I think is the largest reason for DADT foot dragging.

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Apr 12, 2011 at 10:06:52 AM PDT

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