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Congresswoman Jackie Speier was on Face the Nation this morning, and argued that the Pentagon's new policies on sexual assault don't go nearly far enough.

"They're good, but they're not best practices," she said, adding they amount to "really repackaging what has been wrong in the system for all these years."

The military has been grappling with the crisis in the military, after a Pentagon report found that there were 26,000 sexual assaults last year, and the vast majority went unreported.
The congresswoman maintains that military commanders should not be the ones in charge of deciding whether or not to bring forward charges against accused assailants.

"We have a code... rigged in favor of the assailant," she said, noting that the United Kingdom, Israel and Australia already let military prosecutors decide whether to bring forward such charges.

Watch her full appearance here.

According to Speier, only 3,000 of those assaults are ever reported, and only a few of those are actually convicted.  She also claims that a good number of the victims have been discharged for having mental problems.  To claims that commanders have to be involved in order to maintain the chain of command, Speier pointed out that most commanders have no legal training.

To Speier, exhibit A in her case against the current system is that a general is about to be court-martialed for sexual assault.  That would be Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, the former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan.  He's currently facing a 26-count indictment alleging that he had a three-year affair with a captain 17 years his junior--one which got violent at least twice.  He's also accused of sending inappropriate messages to three other female officers.  

Sinclair is only the third general to be court-martialed in the last 50 years.  To Speier's mind, the fact that someone who has the authority to quash a conviction for sexual assault is himself up on sexual assault charges is proof that "the heart of the system is not working properly."  It's hard not to agree.

Originally posted to Christian Dem in NC on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 01:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, RaceGender DiscrimiNATION, and This Week in the War on Women.

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