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Chris Murphy, connecticut congressman running for Senate in 2012
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), the 51st supporter of the Military Justice Improvement Act.
Debate about how to handle military sexual assault started on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand seeking 60 votes for her Military Justice Improvement Act. Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy became the amendment's 51st public supporter in a statement concluding "Given the long history of sexual assault in the military, it is time for us to take a leap of faith and move forward with a new approach to solving this vexing and chronic problem." He was soon followed by Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown making it 52.

Making the case for having decisions about prosecuting major crimes like sexual assault be made by military prosecutors, not military commanders:

“Victims feel they will not get justice,” Gillibrand said on the Senate floor. “If you don’t create a transparent, accountable system outside of the chain of command your hope of victims reporting … it’s not there, the hope is not there.”
Another amendment, from Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, would seek to address sexual assault in the military while leaving prosecution decisions with commanders, tweaking a failed system around the edges rather than seeking major change. Gillibrand's amendment could get a vote as early as Wednesday evening, but could also be held up.

Tell Congress to protect victims of military sexual assault by supporting the Military Justice Improvement Act.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:20 AM PST.

Also republished by Military Community Members of Daily Kos, Rape and Domestic Violence, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Chris Murphy waited until 50 others (5+ / 0-)

    signed before he did? I shall have a talk with him over that!
    Of course, I'm just as surprised that Sherrod Brown was so late to this party.
    Gillibrand's bill should be a no-brainer. Our service members should not be subject to brutalization by their teammates.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:40:33 AM PST

  •  I have so much respect for Sen Gillibrand. (9+ / 0-)

    She has been incredibly strong on this issue.

    And the way she stood up the military brass was an inspiration!!

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:58:59 AM PST

  •  Yet again a non-extraordinary-circumstances bill (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies, TofG, Matt Z

    requires 60 votes instead of 51.  When the day comes that we lose the Senate majority back to the Repugs, will we return the favor of the last X years and filibuster EVERYTHING such that they need 60 votes to advance their agenda?  Of course not.  We'll convince ourselves that we're above that and refuse to sink to their level.

  •  You write, I ask, you never answer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    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 trials 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 Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 11:10:24 AM PST

    •  OK, Asked and Answered (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sir Roderick

      #1. Could they care less than they do now? No, not likely.
      #2. Why would they if they are not responsible? Your question makes no sense.
      #3. Same system, different decision maker, how hard is that for you to understand. Standards don't change. No, we do not have separate systems, just one.
      #4. Federal, State, Municipal laws can restrict your freedom under the Constitution as can the Uniform Code of Military Justice. There is no constitutional issue.
      #5. Perfection is not expected, only improvement on the failing system that we have today.

      Now no more bullshit please..

      •  I didnt ask you and those are not answers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        1 - Please provide proof that commanders dont care now.  Just saying they dont care is not proof.  

        2 - You make my point for me.  The contention that the problem is commanders not placing enough emphasis on preventing sexual assaults.  The solution in this bill is to remove them from the process.  How much emphasis do you think will happen then?

        3 - Sorry but its not the same process.  The process described in this bill completely removes all sex crimes from the normal UCMJ.  It places lawyers in the position of deciding what should and should not go forward as a case.  Somehow this is supposed to fix everything.  Most civilian District Attorneys are lawyers.  How many times do civilian DA refuse to bring a sex crime case to a grand jury because of lack of evidence?  Every day.  How many times to they fail to get a true bill out of a grand jury?  Every day.  Why?  Because sex crimes are hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  This will be a completely separate system to the point that is someone is charged with rape and something else - and there is almost always something else - there will have to be two trials.

        4 - WRONG.  Ever heard of Habeas corpus?  Only a JUDGE or a Military Commander can restrict the liberty of a citizen.  If you are arrested you can be held only long enough to appear before a judge or a commander.  So unless we change the Constitution the person charged will appear before commander who will then be told they will have no further dealings with the case.  This will generate appeals so fast heads will spin.

        5 - So please explain what improvement looks like? .5%?  .1%?  Please show me one city in this country with multiple millions of adults that has a lower incidence of rape.  

        The bullshit is your non-answers.  The bullshit is this bill.  The bullshit is playing your base like a fiddle with a do nothing bill just to earn points.

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

        by ksuwildkat on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 02:13:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  yay for chris! i love that guy. (0+ / 0-)

    "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

    by thankgodforairamerica on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 11:16:49 AM PST

  •  Prediction: McConnell will wave 60 vote threshhold (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    and use this to argue no filifbuster reform is needed. Harry Reid will be touched by proof of senate collegiality.

  •  Clinton? Warren? How about Gillibrand for POTUS! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TofG, Matt Z, Sir Roderick

    What a great senator she is.

  •  She really is a good person (4+ / 0-)

    I remember her answer when asked why she was marriage equality.... (paraphrasing) she said "I've known this was wrong since I was a little girl. Now I can do something about it"

  •  mccaskill and her (0+ / 0-)

    do nothing amendment is another example of the faux dems in wash we need to drive from office when we have a better alternative, leaving the decisions up to the commanders is a joke as are most of the spineless dems in the senate and harry reid is at the top of the list.

  •  Does anyone have a full list of Senators (0+ / 0-)

    who support Gillibrand's bill?  I would love to see who is a supporter and who is not.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

    by gulfgal98 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 12:12:50 PM PST

  •  Which Military commander should be fired for this? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    So since bungled rape cases ONLY happen in the military and ONLY commanders faile to properly investigate rape cases, which Commander should be fired for this?

    The allegation is now out there, in stark and startling black and white:

    Star Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, according to a statement reported Wednesday by the Tampa Bay Times, allegedly raped a woman last December.

    But the haymakers don't stop there. The statement released to the Times by Patricia Carroll, the unnamed alleged victim's family attorney, accuses the Tallahassee Police Department of failure to fully follow up on the initial rape complaint; prematurely and unilaterally alerting Winston's attorney and Florida State campus police to the situation; and painting a foreboding picture of the potential fallout from accusing a Seminoles football player of sexual assault.

    "We requested assistance from an attorney friend to interact with law enforcement on the victim's behalf," the statement said. "When the attorney contacted Detective [Scott] Angulo immediately after Winston was identified, Detective Angulo told the attorney that Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable."

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

    by ksuwildkat on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 03:07:03 PM PST

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