This is simply a case of the good old boys club trumping the rights of women in the military to feel safe. Senator Carl Levin, Democrat from Michigan, is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. He displayed his apathy, and sided with the military brass, allowing them to continue ignoring one of the greatest scandals in the history of the United States military, removing a feeling of safety from the women who serve in our armed forces.
Sexual assaults upon women in the military are rising at an alarming rate. The problem was exposed in the late 1990’s, and the commanders of the armed forces have continued to ignore the problem. More than 26,000 anonymous women claimed sexual assault by male members of the military in 2012. They were afraid to formally file charges against their attackers. Over 3400 did file, and many of them were punished for their claims.
Senate hearings last week verbally reprimanded the hierarchy of the United States military for failing to attend to an increasing situation that disgraces our otherwise courageous military. The primary issue involves removing the complaints of sexual assault from Commanders, and placing them in charge of military prosecutors.
Tuesday Levin decided to remove the change in military policy. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, also a Democrat from New York, introduced the measure to change the status quo. She has 27 co-sponsors.
This decision by Levin will see an embattled division within the Senate. There are now seven women serving on the committee. Speaking of the military brass and attitudes like those of Levin, opposing comments are many.
“They basically embrace the status quo here,” said Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, a co-sponsor of Ms. Gillibrand’s bill. “It’s outrageous.”
In an odd twist Tuesday, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Congress could seek to replace commanders in power with state prosecutors to deal with the military sexual assault cases. “To do things as they’ve always been done is not acceptable,” Mr. Leahy said.
The discussion of the failings of the military hierarchy to properly act upon these unforgivable acts has extended beyond the government and the military.
“If word gets out that the military justice system is not properly attentive to these cases, military personnel will vote with their feet,” said Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School.
In a related case, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, is in the meantime still holding up the nomination of Lt. Gen. Susan Helms of the Air Force to become vice commander of the United States Space Command because Ms. Helms overturned a jury conviction in a sexual assault case without public explanation.
“I continue to have deep concerns with Lt. Gen. Helms’ decision, while a commander and courts-martial convening authority, to overturn the jury verdict of a military court-martial in which the jury found an Air Force officer guilty of sexual assault,” Ms. McCaskill said in remarks submitted to the Congressional Record.
Senator Levin has held office since 1979. He has been the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services since 2007. He is the poster boy for term limits. He is one of the good old boys club that places men’s military careers above those of military women and their safety.
The Guardian Express