According to Politico this morning, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will review Article 60 of the Uniform Code of Justice today—meaning Sec. Hagel will assess a commander's ability to dismiss charges in all cases, including instances of military sexual assault.
Article 60 of the UCMJ grants the “convening authority” the sole power to dismiss any charge brought by a court martial. This means that even if a service member is found guilty of rape, the convening authority—who is in the rapist’s chain of command and could therefore face a conflict of interest—can completely invalidate any punishment and return the convicted to service.
Secretary Hagel ordered a full review of Article 60 after an Air Force general at Aviano Air Base dismissed charges against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, who had been convicted of sexual assault. The case sparked outrage publically and politically, culminating in a Senate Armed Services hearing on the subject.
In the hearing, Senator Claire McCaskill demanded justice for survivors of military rape:
Sec. Hagel’s review is a huge step forward in ensuring justice for survivors of military sexual assault, and we look forward to the results of his analysis. Stay tuned for updates in the coming weeks.
During yesterday's Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee hearing on military sexual assault, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand refused to accept rhetoric over reality, taking military leaders to task for claiming that commanders need convening authority--the definitive power to determine when to hear cases of sexual assault and when to overturn convictions--to maintain good discipline and order.
Check out the video of Sen. Gillibrand's questioning:
Join us in thanking Sen. Gillibrand for her leadership on this issue on Twitter:
Last week Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced that her first hearing as chair of the Senate Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee would focus on oversight of military sexual assault cases.
The hearing will take place THIS WEDNESDAY, March 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and we’re headed to the Hill to see it happen! But whether you’re online--watching along on the livestream HERE--or on the ground in Washington, D.C., we hope that you’ll join us.
Help us thank Sen. Gilibrand for her leadership on this issue – send her a Tweet:
Newly minted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel nominated Maj. Gen Michelle Johnson to be the new superintendent of the Air Force Academy on Friday, setting her up to be the first woman to ever hold the position.
Politico has the full story on the nomination, from the Associated Press.
According to the Denver Post, Maj. Gen Johnson was the first female cadet wing commander to graduate from the Air Force Academy in 1981 and has since ascended the ranks to three-star general. If appointed, she would be the second woman to helm a service academy, following in the footsteps after Rear Adm. Sandra Stosz, who was named superintendent of the United States Coast Guard Academy in 2011.
As the head of the Air Force Academy, Maj. Gen. Johnson will be in charge of setting the tone for a new generation of Air Force leaders—meaning she can help make sure that “Zero Tolerance” of sexual assault is more than just rhetoric.
We congratulate Maj. Gen. Johnson on her appointment and hope that under her leadership, the Air Force Academy will lead the way in preventing sexual assault among attendees.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants Congress to tackle the 19,000 sex assaults per year in the armed forces. She'll take up the subject in her new role as chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel.
Next month’s hearing is believed to be the first the U.S. Senate has convened on the problem since 1997. Gillibrand will summon sexual assault victims and military officials to the hearing to discuss what can be done to stop it.
It's been called the Invisible War — the epidemic of sexual assault in the military.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said Friday she wants Congress to tackle this “reprehensible problem” — and so she will summon sexual assault victims and military brass to a hearing to explore what to do about it.
It will be her first hearing in her new role as chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel.
“We have 19,000 sexual assaults a year happening — and only a small handful of perpetrators being prosecuted and discharged,” she told the Daily News.
When Kirby and I first set out on this journey, we were shocked and outraged by the epidemic of rape within our military. The numbers were startling. But so are numbers like 35 million: average viewership of the Oscars who last night heard Ben Affleck address this very problem on stage and telecast around the world.
From the Academy to the Spirit Awards, it was a jam-packed weekend! On Saturday we were incredibly proud to take home a Spirit Independent Award for Best Documentary Feature -- another recognition of the powerful story THE INVISIBLE WAR tells through our survivors' eyes.
These past few weeks -- from Hollywood to Washington -- have been filled with milestones, all of which we reached with your support. At the beginning, we couldn't believe how little people spoke or knew about the tragedy of Military Sexual Assault -- not to mention how psychologically damaging it was, and the extent of the institutional cover-up.
Yesterday, Capitol Hill was abuzz as the Senate Armed Services Committee questioned Senator Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Throughout the six-hour hearing, our allies like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Richard Blumenthal raised the question of how Hagel, should he be confirmed, would continue to push through reforms and insurances that military survivors be not only allowed pathways to justice but afforded the care and support they deserve.
Great article by Kay Steiger at Raw Story on the recent Government Accountability Office report that indicates less than adequate care for survivors of military sexual assault.
Some women in the military are still receiving inadequate care for sexual assault, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report <http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-182> published Tuesday found. The report found that “not all first responders had completed the required training,” even after a 2005 Department of Defense directive mandated “a comprehensive policy for the prevention of and response to sexual assault.” One servicewoman even reported an inability to gain access to yeast infection treatment.
Though GAO found that the military “has not established guidance for the treatment of injuries stemming from sexual assault — a crime that requires a specialized level of care.” Often, officers assigned to be “victim advocates” for those who had suffered sexual assault “are not always aware of the specific health care services available to sexual assault victims.”
GAO investigated three military installations in the United States and seven Afganistan installations, as well as looking at eight Navy ships. The investigators talked to 92 servicewomen, 60 of whom said they believed they were receiving “generally” adequate care, but 8 reported deficiencies in female-specific health care.
“At one location we visited in Afghanistan,” the report said, “a female airman told us that she believed the military was trying to meet the health needs of women, but still had work to do—noting, for example, that a medication she was prescribed had given her yeast infections.”
The biggest barrier seems to be confidentiality. As Wired reported <http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/01/pentagon-sexual-abuse/> , “Sexual assault cases can be reported in the military using two ways: unrestricted reports and restricted reports. For an unrestricted report, a survivor reports an assault to superiors and military law enforcement, who — in theory — begin an investigation, and provide medical care and counseling. A restricted report, on the other hand, allows a survivor to confidentially inform superiors about the assault without sparking a criminal investigation. The survivor, according to military policy <http://www.sexualassault.army.mil/content/policy_restricted_unrestricted_reporting.cfm> , should still receive medical care, but personally identifying information will be kept anonymous.”
But the GAO found that policies on the ground are inconsistent and often contradict the ability of servicewomen to file a confidential report of sexual assault. In at least one facility, “the policy was silent on the issue of sexual assault.” At another, “a command’s medical policy contained requirements for health care personnel that conflicted with their responsibilities under restricted reporting.”
This is problematic, because, as the report said, “As a consequence, sexual assault victims who want to keep their case confidential may be reluctant to seek medical care.” The report concluded that “such factors can undermine DOD’s efforts to address the problem of sexual assault.”