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They all deserve protection.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act continued picking up momentum Tuesday morning; after Democratic Sen. Cory Booker said Monday night he was co-sponsoring the plan, Republican Sen. Dean Heller said Tuesday morning that he would support the amendment. What's more, a new poll finds solid public support for putting prosecutors in charge of prosecution decisions when it comes to major crimes like sexual assault:
With a vote on the issue pending in the Senate, 59 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll favor the proposed change. Thirty-six percent instead prefer to keep authority over sexual assault cases within the usual channels.

Support for the change includes equal numbers of women and men, albeit more married women than single women, 65 vs. 53 percent. It’s backed across the political spectrum, but by more Democrats and independents (about six in 10 in both cases), than Republicans (53 percent).

At a press conference Tuesday morning, a group of senators released a letter of support from 26 retired generals, admirals, commanders, colonels, captains and senior enlisted personnel, and:
“As a former commander, endorsing a change that removes certain authority from military commanders has been a tough decision,” said Major General (Ret.) Martha Rainville. “It was driven by my conviction that our men and women in uniform deserve to know, without doubt, that they are valued and will be treated fairly with all due process should they report an offense and seek help, or face being accused of an offense. When allegations of serious criminal misconduct have been made, the decision whether to prosecute should be made by a trained legal professional. Fairness and justice require sound judgment based on evidence and facts, independent of pre-existing command relationships.”
Tell Congress to protect victims of military sexual assault by supporting the Military Justice Improvement Act.

11:54 AM PT: Definitely momentum—the plan picks up another, rather important, Senate supporter:

I'm going to support @SenGillibrand's important amendment to combat the problem of sexual assault in the military.

Reid makes the 50th public supporter.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:36 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you (4+ / 0-)

    for putting and keeping this issue on our radar at Dkos.

  •  if you want justice (3+ / 0-)

    in the military take it out of the hands of the military they are unjust and incapable of handling that duty, similar to internal affairs that the police use to cover up police crimes.

    •  and give it to whom? (0+ / 0-)

      Because however bad you think the military does this, the civilians do it worse.

      •  Can you read? eom (0+ / 0-)

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:30:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  common sense (0+ / 0-)

        tells you that no one should investigate their own that just smacks off coverup, to not understand this just shows ones bias or ignorance.

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

          in real life, when civilian members of a community commit a crime, then the civilian criminal justice system investigates and a prosecutor (usually elected by popular vote) makes the final call, often as much on his or her re-election prospects as anything else.

          Yet somehow, the military doing more or less the same thing is investigating their own? And you think the military attorneys, of which I'm one and know 100s, somehow are divorced from the military community in a way the commanding general isn't?

          I agree there is ignorance here though.

          •  No WAY! (0+ / 0-)

            In the civilian world if someone commits a crime magic crime fairies catch 100% of the bad guys and provide easy to understand evidence that clearly points to guilt.  Divinely inspired third parties from the planet DA who have no human failings then put every bad person in person with 100% accuracy.

            In the military nothing ever goes right.  Every victim is ignored and rapist receive a beer party and promotion.  50% of all people in the military are rapist and they rape the other 50%.

            It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

            by ksuwildkat on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:17:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  i see you need help (0+ / 0-)

              can't even stand on your own, typical lifer stay on the inside where the temp is fine and the future is secure, once a lifer always a lifer.
              with soldiers like you ( i use soldier loosely) no wonder we abuse so many combatants illegally.
              be gone little person mommy is calling.

              •  do you know how to form a sentence? (0+ / 0-)

                we have already show you cant answer a simple question or read well.  You do have an active imagination though.  How about you go back and finish that GED and learn how to take your thoughts and put them in writing.

                It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

                by ksuwildkat on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 06:59:34 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  you are so lifer (0+ / 0-)

                  you must have an L on your forehead.
                  can't make it on the outside hide on the inside but like you said the stupid tax payers pay your pension and they are the losers, at least to you they are.

          •  our military is even (0+ / 0-)

            in worse shape than i thought, thank you for informing me i didn't realize.
            a few good men was a movie fool not a true story.

      •  UCMJ is total abdication of justice (0+ / 0-)

        As a veteran who has been subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, I can tell you the the Code is not uniform nor is it justice.

        The manifold inequities include prejudices according to Rank, sexual orientation, gender, incarceration, and administration of hearings. It is, in fact, one of the poorest, least coherent Codes of Justice that exist in the civilized world. It is horrible.

        To answer your question, regular Federal Courts, prosecutors, and Codes would be sufficient, given that we can muster up the guts to stop our justice system from being undermined by the Patriot Act and the appointment of conservative ideologues as judges and prosecutors.

        The military has incompetently administered the UCMJ for decades. It is time for a significant change. I wholeheartedly support Sen. Gillibrand's effort in this regard.

        Single payer IS the answer.

        by oofer on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 02:05:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Easy to find out - just read Gillirand's proposal (0+ / 0-)

        "The legislation would create an independent group of military prosecutors to consider whether to bring charges in such cases. Supporters say the change would ensure fair treatment and encourage victims to come forward."

        "It would strip commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions, require dishonorable discharge or dismissal for any individual convicted of sexual assault and establish a civilian review when a decision is made not to prosecute a case, and ban retaliation for reporting a rape."

        There is supposed to zero tolerance for sexual assult in the military, and last year alone we had 3000 cases of sexual assault, and only about 17% prosecuted, according to Gilibrand.

        No, sir, getting this out of the military is the answer to a very disturbing problem.

        •  how is giving it (0+ / 0-)

          to military prosecutors "getting it out of the military?"

          •  Good question (0+ / 0-)

            The bill takes the power out of the chain of command.  This has proven to be swept aside by commanding officers in the case of rape and assault, as they do not want to tarnish their command.  It seems they would rather have a "clean slate," rather then go ahead with criminal charges against a soldier under their command.

            The military prosecutors would be seasoned prosecutors, with a civilian oversight.

  •  Stop Raping Your Comrades-In-Arms Act, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, oofer

    known as the Military Jusrtice Improvement Act, is an indictment of the good ole boy CRIMINAL JUST US system in the military.

  •  What's up with Heller (R-NV)? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Back when he was in Congress, he acted like a complete nutjob. I expected him to be a teabagger. He supports ENDA and now this? Was he visited by three ghosts?

    i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

    by bobinson on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:01:30 PM PST

  •  And the arc of history continues to bend (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    toward justice.

  •  Another blog, another time you wont answer (0+ / 0-)

    Every time you write about this I ask about it:

    When has anyone ever cared MORE about something when they are told its not their responsibility?

    How is the military supposed to punish commanders who fail to uphold standards for investigations and trails if they are no longer responsible for investigations and trails?

    How many different kinds of justice are you planning to set up?  If there is one standard for sex crimes and another for everything else where does it end?  Do we have separate systems for every punitive article?

    Since the ability to restrict the liberty of a citizen is clearly spelled out in the Constitution, when are proponents of this change going to amend the Constitution?

    Finally once the "new" system "fails" to achieve perfect results who will get tasked with perfection next?  Given the rate of sexual assault in the military is less than 1% what is the goal other than perfection?

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:17:55 PM PST

    •  more importantly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and no no one ever answers me either:

      I know for a fact both in person and through talking to others in the military justice community that it happens MORE that military prosecutors say don't go forward and then a general says go forward, then military prosecutors saying go forward, and a general says don't go forward.

      And it's not even close.

      So I'm not sure why folks think this will result in more cases going forward other than a general belief that it's the generals who don't want to go forward and the lawyers who do.

    •  and to put facts to my anecdotal evidence (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "Over the past two years, there have been at least 93 cases in which prosecutors declined to pursue charges, but in which a commander launched a court martial. And many of those courts-martial resulted in convictions. That's 93 victims who would never have had their day in court if commanders lost the ability to bring a case to court martial. We've also found almost no cases in which a prosecutor wanted to pursue charges but was overruled by a commander. Stripping commanders of the ability to launch courts-martial seeks to solve a problem -- commanders refusing to move cases forward -- that we just don't have."

      •  What facts? (0+ / 0-)

        I see a bare assertion from a politician backed up by nothing.

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:35:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good lord (0+ / 0-)

          Pretend for a minute rape is not unique to the military since that is what everyone here thinks.  Now go down your district attorney.  Ask them for the last 10 cases where someone claimed they were raped but the DA didnt have enough evidence to bring a case to the grand jury.  Then ask for the last 10 cases where it went to the grand jury but they couldnt get a true bill.  If you are in a big city, I am willing to be not one of those cases is more than 6 months old.

          Now tell me, which military leader stopped that DA from going forward with those cases?

          It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

          by ksuwildkat on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:42:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  so you think McCaskill (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          just made it up?

          Humor me for a moment, and assume that fact is accurate.  Humor me for a moment and assume that it matches my decade of experience in military justice.

          I know you don't want to, but go ahead for the sake of argument.

          Assuming that it is more likely that commanders will go forward than prosecutors, then what does that say about this legislation or the issue as a whole?

          Generals have pressure now to go forward. Military prosecutors will not remotely have that same pressure. At least not at the moment.  They won't err on the side of caution in recommending things go forward.  They will do what civilian prosecutors do.  Send forward what they think they can reasonably win.

      •  Once again, facts dont matter (0+ / 0-)

        There is an agenda and no fact will get them off message.

        I compared it to TeaPublicans banning Shria - all they are doing is playing to the base with no intention of really doing anything.

        It pains me when liberals who can see so clearly when right wingers are being played by politicians dont see when they are being played by their fellow liberals.  

        It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

        by ksuwildkat on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:38:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  If this passes, the House better pass it. It's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    good optics for Republicans.  If the Republicans kill it either in the Senate or the House, there is another cudgel to use against them:  Republicans are pro-rapist.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 01:44:08 PM PST

  •  Stuck (0+ / 0-)

    Here is where I have arrived on this matter.  In the military you are stuck in a position, under possible threat of imprisonment, and you are stuck in a chain of command.  There are limited options to defend your rights, because, frankly you have given away rights when you entered the military.  Orders must be obeyed, and chain of command, which ends with the president, must be honored.

    Certain abuses are going to be tolerated.  But the key issue, to me, is that unlike a civilian job the opportunity to just exit the situation very often does not exists.  You can't just say my boss is raping me, I don't want to cause a stir, so I will quit.  A negotiated exit under the threat of a civil suit is not possible.  It appears to an outsider that even more so than normal, all the power is granted to the rapist in the military structure.  

    This must be fixed for troop stability.  The current structure is not doing it.  While so people think that the current structure is divinely inspired, or in the constitution, it is not.  The current structure has been jury rigged over time, just like so much else in this country, and the only thing in the constitution is that unlike a citizen who is the employer of the President, a military person is the employee.  Congress and the president can do whatever they wish.  If the president says do the chicken dance I would expect everyone from three star generals down to do so.  That is what they signed up for.

    Not to use their position to imposed their sexual desires on others.

    •  What? (0+ / 0-)

      I will try to go in order on this but your post is rambling and makes little sense.

      "stuck in a position"  - not true.  There are multiple avenues to be discharged prior to the termination of a contract for enlisted personnel.  officer have the option to resign.  (I will use Army terms but I am reasonably confident that the other services have similar programs).

      While a discharge prior to the end of an enlistment is by no means easy if the soldier sincere in their desire to end their service and they have a valid reason for termination, most (but not all) commanders will do their best to speed the individual out of the service.  A disgruntled soldier is a poison and can make a good unit dysfunctional quickly.  In the Army I would use a Chapter 16 "Good of the Service" for someone who needed to leave for companionship reasons.  

      It is not the soldiers job to defend their rights, it is the commanders job to defend them.  The rights are not so much given up as transferred to the commander but at the same time the responsibility to defend those rights is transferred.  

      LAWFUL orders must be obeyed.  But one of the main reasons soldiers are allowed to depart prior to the end of a contract is when they can no longer obey lawful orders.  I gave great thought to this during the Bush Administration because of some of the things going on in Iraq.  I was frankly relieve that I never had to make the decision but I also had a chain of command that understood not to give me certain orders.

      While certain commanders have tolerated abuses, those commanders usually find themselves charged and then discharged.  Abuse is not acceptable but some times it takes longer than one would hope for abuses to be exposed.  What you describe about people quitting rather than cause a stir is actually far to prevalent.  In fact it is one of the root issues.  We need people to com forward and bring charges not suffer in silence.  While it is true a victim cannot sue and walk with a payday (see Herman Cain) Im not sure that is a completely bad thing.  The sad fact is that people in power now believe there is a money solution for everything.  You cant buy your way out of a trial in the military (read that again Kobe).

      What are you referring to about "troop stability"?  I truly dont understand what you are trying to get out.

      Actually the Constitution is pretty clear about only a Judge and a Military Commander being able to restrict the liberty of a Citizen.  

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:09:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  why should the victim have to pay (0+ / 0-)
        tuck in a position"  - not true.  There are multiple avenues to be discharged prior to the termination of a contract for enlisted personnel.  officer have the option to resign.  (I will use Army terms but I am reasonably confident that the other services have similar programs).
        Any early termination has consequences.  Why should the victim have to pay for the crime.  In civilian life there are may possible lateral moves to get away from a sexual predator.  Moving is sometimes qa choice that some victims make because they do not want to jeopardize their career.  What you are suggesting is that a victim give up their chance to serve, and I pay for the pension of a sexual deviant.
        •  Quitting your job has consequences (0+ / 0-)

          Just leaving your job has similar consequences.  

          But now you have moved the goal post for lateral moves.  We do that too.  I have twice received soldiers as "rehabilitate reassignments."  As far as anyone besides me and the 1SG knew the person arrived as a normal reassignment.  Our job was to make that become a true statement.  In many ways we have far more ability to make this kind of lateral move than any civilian job.  Since we are located all over the world, we can literally put you half a world away from someone.  Further we can restrict the travel of the perp to ensure there is no way for them to continue any abuse.  And since most military people can be assigned to joint jobs we can even put with a different service to further protect you (as in an Army person being put in a Joint job on an Air Force base).  And finally unlike civilian jobs, moving is perfectly normal in the military.  Some people move almost annually.  So unlike a civilian job where suddenly moving to Scranton raises eyebrows, in the military it is perfectly normal to be suddenly told to move and no one gives it a second thought.

          I described the equivalent to the example you gave of someone quitting their job.  Now I have described the equivalent of what you described with a lateral move.  

          Any more goal post you care to move?

          It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

          by ksuwildkat on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 04:37:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Since when does "public support" for anything (0+ / 0-)

    matter to congress?  The public knows nothing about this bill except horror stories they may have heard about rape in the military and how it's not being addressed through regular military channels.  They know zero about the details of the bill or possible ramifications and unintended consequences of its passage.

    If the military doesn't want congress involved in altering the path of military justice, they had better do something to solve this problem, which is large and disgusting to civilians, and do it quickly.

    The longer reports of rape and sexual assault in the military persist, and the reports include inaction on the part of commanding officers and a good ole boy system of addressing the problem is described publicly, including permitted harassment of the victims, the more determined congress will be to intervene.  If you don't want someone else taking control of your house and carrying out your trash, you better do it yourself.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:02:30 PM PST

    •  "large and disgusting" (0+ / 0-)

      So between the current "large and disgusting" and perfection, what is an acceptable number?  What is "doing a great job despite not being perfect"?

      Or is the goal perfection?  Because went you are already at 99% doing the right thing and the problem is "large and disgusting" I am wondering what "small and not disgusting" looks like.  From where I sit, it seems like only perfection is acceptable.  

      Actually, its seems better than perfect is the goal.  Somehow we are supposed to recruit 200,000 people a year and with 100% accuracy eliminate anyone who might commit a crime.  And if for some reason they stray they should be punished without regard for due process based only on accusations.  If anyone is accused but not punished, it is an obvious coverup.  

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 03:38:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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