Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Three retired generals get behind Gillibrand's military sexual assault bill

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Dailykos.com reports -- The military leadership's view of sexual assault in the military is roughly this: It's a problem, we've failed to fix it, but we should be allowed to keep doing the same things that have failed to fix it. That means fierce resistance to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's bill taking decisions about sexual assault prosecutions out of the hands of military commanders and putting them in the hands of people with legal training. But now, Darren Samuelsohn reports that three retired generals are getting behind Gillibrand's plan:

“After carefully thinking about this issue, I believe the Defense Department’s time to solve the problem on its own has expired,” [retired Lt. Gen. Claudia] Kennedy wrote. “Civilian and uniformed military leaders have had absolute discretion and power to make changes, but have not fixed the problem and have not stopped retaliation suffered by survivors who report the crimes committed against them.”

“Failure to achieve these reforms would be a further tragedy to an already sorrowful history of inattention and ineptitude concerning military sexual assault,” [retired Brig. Gen. Loree] Sutton added.

[Retired Brig. Gen. David] McGinnis, who served during Obama’s first term as acting assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, told Gillibrand her approach would help address “the historic lack of sincerity within the Department of Defense on issues relating to women in the military.”

"Sorrowful history of inattention and ineptitude," "historic lack of sincerity." Those are some strong words, but accurate ones. All three get to the heart of the need for change: The military has been told many times to prevent and respond to sexual assault more effectively and to stop retaliation against the victims of crimes. That hasn't happened, completely undercutting the claims that no, for real, seriously, this time things will be different.

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