Military sexual assault agreement advances without Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s reforms

The proposal leaves the prosecution of sexual assault cases within the military chain of command

Topics: military sexual assault, Sexual assault, Violence Against Women, Rape, Rape Culture, sen. kirs, american military, sexual violence, , ,

Military sexual assault agreement advances without Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's reforms (Credit: AP)

Members of the House and Senate armed services committees came to an agreement Monday on adding new protections for victims of sexual assault in the military, but the proposal in the defense authorization bill does not include the more sweeping reforms introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and leaves the prosecution of sexual assault cases within the military chain of command.

A Pentagon survey released this year revealed an alarming rise in sexual assault in the military, from an estimated 19,000 in 2010 to 26,000 in 2012.

More on the agreement from the Wall Street Journal:

The agreement calls for minimum sentencing guidelines for assaults. It also would provide special counsel to victims and would prevent military commanders from substituting a lesser offense for a guilty finding. It would criminalize retaliation against victims of sexual assault, something proponents say is central to addressing the issue.

Left out of the agreement was any resolution to a bitter and public debate among lawmakers over the role of military commanders in dealing with assault cases. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) has led a campaign to strip military commanders of their authority to decide whether assault cases can proceed, arguing that military prosecutors should take control of such cases. She has aggressively lobbied her Senate colleagues on the issue, sometimes clashing with members of her own party over the matter.

Opponents have argued that moving sexual assault cases out of the chain of command is a bad idea because it would prevent unit commanders from taking an active role in preventing and punishing sexual assaults. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) and other critics said commanders need to be held accountable, not removed from the process.

Ms. Gillibrand had sought to offer her proposal as an amendment to the defense bill, but an agreement among negotiators to allow no amendments will prevent her from doing that. A spokeswoman said she would seek another avenue to get it passed. “Regardless of what happens, the senator will not go away,” said Bethany Lesser, spokeswoman for Ms. Gillibrand.

Anu Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women’s Action Network and a former Marine Corps captain, expressed disappointment that Gillibrand’s amendment was not included in the agreement.



“We’re disappointed Congress will not include Senator Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act,” Bhagwati said in a statement. “Congress has chosen to sidestep the most important military justice reform to come across its desk in history, once again leaving sexual assault victims devastated and betrayed by inaction. However, the fight is not over. The majority of the American people and justice are on our side. Senator Gillibrand has introduced her reform as a stand-alone bill. We must continue to fight for justice for our troops by demanding Congress bring this important legislation to the floor for a vote.”

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 22
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Talking Heads, 1977
    This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
    Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Blondie, 1977
    This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
    They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
    Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bathroom, 1977
    This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
    Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977
    “The kids are all hopped up and ready to go…” View from the unique "side stage" at CBGB's that you had to walk past to get to the basement bathrooms.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
    Jarmusch was still in film school, Parker was starring in Jim’s first film "Permanent Vacation" and Klaus just appeared out of nowhere.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
    When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Dictators, Bowery 1976
    Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
    We were on the median strip on the Bowery shooting what became a 45 single sleeve for Alex’s “Bangkok.” A drop of rain landed on the camera lens by accident. Definitely a lucky night!

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery view, 1977
    The view from across the Bowery in the summer of 1977.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
    I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
    Richard exiting CBGB's with his guitar at 4am, about to step into a Bowery rainstorm. I’ve always printed the shots of him in the rain, but this one is a real standout to me now.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
    May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Legs McNeil, 1977
    Legs, ready for his close-up, near the front door of CBGB's.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Suicide, 1977
    Rev and Alan Vega – I thought Alan was going to hit me with that chain. This was the Punk Magazine Benefit show.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ian Hunter and Fans, outside bathroom
    I always think of “All the Young Dudes” when I look at this shot. These fans had caught Ian Hunter in the CBGB's basement outside the bathrooms, and I just stepped in to record the moment.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Tommy Ramone, 1977
    Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery 4am, 1977
    End of the night garbage run. Time to go home.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...