I know you are with me on tackling the sexual assault crisis in the military, so I wanted to show you something I just read in the Times.
This editorial is a great reminder of why we are in this fight – and why it is so important that we win. I hope you will take a moment to read it and share it with your friends and family.
I am so glad to have you with me on this. We are making real headway, and I know that if we keep up the fight, we will be able to create the independent, objective and fair military justice system worthy of the sacrifices of our brave men and women in uniform.
Broken Military Justice
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
The New York Times
The abusive grilling last month of a female midshipman in a case involving three former United States Naval Academy football players provided further evidence that the military’s handling of sexual assault complaints is seriously flawed.
The woman, who has accused the three athletes of raping her at an alcohol-fueled “yoga and toga” party, was interrogated for about 30 hours over several days. Defense lawyers asked her questions that were irrelevant to the alleged crime and unlikely to be allowed in civilian courts, like whether she wore a bra.
Her ordeal occurred during a preliminary hearing, known as an Article 32 proceeding, that helps determine whether cases are sent to courts-martial. According to military law experts, the harsh and degrading cross-examination was not unique.
The Joint Service Committee on Military Justice, which reviews changes to military law, has now approved a proposal that would clarify the rules for Article 32 hearings to better shield sexual assault victims from unreasonably aggressive questioning.
This would be a useful step. But more fundamental structural changes to the military justice system are required to give victims confidence that they will be treated fairly if they come forward.
One crucial change would be to give independent, professionally trained military prosecutors, not commanders with built-in conflicts of interest, the power to decide which sexual assault and other serious cases to try. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat of New York, has offered promising legislation that would make this change, but it has been opposed by the military brass and by Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who favors less sweeping reform.