Dragging their feet every step of the way.
The president has said that reducing and more effectively responding to military sexual assault is a top priority, so publicly military leaders have to pretend that it's something they're serious about. But even aside from their very public opposition to proposals, like Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act, that would make significant changes to how military sexual assault is handled, Darren Samuelsohn's reporting leaves little doubt that the resistance goes much deeper
. Richard Socarides, who worked on Don't Ask Don't Tell for the Clinton administration, pretty much sums it up:
“The military always thinks it knows what’s best when it comes to their own and at most will humor the civilian leadership by listening to their views, but thereafter pretty much they do whatever they want,” he said.
And what the military wants is to keep failing rather than putting decisions about sexual assault prosecutions in the hands of prosecutors, to continue being able to make prosecution decisions on the basis of commanders' feelings about the people involved, to not be held to account, not really.
Last June, Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Martin Dempsey told a Senate committee that he "took my eye off the ball" when it came to sexual assault because of "12 years of conflict." Now:
“He’s got Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and the rest of the world to worry about, and he and I talk about this issue all the time. That’s a fundamental change compared to last year,” Army Brig. Gen. Richard Gross, Dempsey’s top legal counsel, said this fall during testimony before a congressionally chartered panel studying the issue.
Right. But when the attention dies down, when there's no threat that Congress will pass a bill forcing the military to make serious changes, when there's no longer a president focusing on this issue, what will keep the generals' and admirals' eyes on the ball then? It's time for the U.S. to do what military allies like Great Britain, Canada, and Israel have done and give prosecutors, not commanders, control of sexual assault prosecution decisions.
Tell Congress to protect victims of military sexual assault.