Last month, the Pentagon reported that more than 70 sexual assaults are occurring in the military every day. From 2011 to 2012 the number of sexual assaults increased from 19,000 to 26,000, but the number of reported assaults stayed flat at a little more than 3,000. Most sexual assaults go unreported in the military, because just 3% of the 2012 cases were prosecuted. (The best way to make sure that crimes aren’t reported is to make it clear to the victims that the criminal won’t be prosecuted.)
The Senate Armed Services Committee had a chance to stand up for victims. They could have put our country on the path to joining allies Israel, Great Britain, Australia, Canada by investigating sexual assault cases outside of the military. They could have stood up the people who are victimized by sexual predators while serving their country. Seventeen senators could have, should have, but they didn’t.
Instead, Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) replaced Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s plan with his own. The Levin plan is backed by Defense Secretary Hagel, and would keep the military in charge of prosecuting sexual assaults. Sen. Levin said, “We need to change some things. We can do some things much better. We have to. But I think we’ve got to be very careful when we talk about taking the command structure out of this process.”
It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Sen. Levin that many of these sexual assaults are being committed by people within his precious chain of command. It didn’t matter to the Armed Services Committee that Gillibrand’s legislation has bipartisan group of 27 cosponsors. For Sen. Levin and 16 other members of the committee, all that mattered was protecting the status quo. If they have to protect thousands of rapists within the military to do so, so be it.
After the vote Sen. Gillibrand said, “I am deeply disappointed the voices of the victims of sexual assault have been drowned out by the military leaders who have failed to combat this crisis. While, in my view, we did not take all the steps required to solve the problem, there is no doubt we have taken several significant steps forward with the current version of the bill. I will continue to fight to strengthen this bill by offering the Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment when the Defense bill is on the full Senate floor for a vote. Our advocacy on this issue to remove the sole decision making of the chain of command in serious crimes has only just begun.”
In order to make sure that these 17 senators don’t vote to protect rapists again, they need to be called out by name.
Here is a list of all 17 Democrats and Republicans, with their phone numbers beside their names:
Kelly Ayotte (R -NH) (202) 224-3324
Roy Blunt (R – MO) (202) 224-5721
Saxby Chambliss (R – GA) (202) 224-3521
Deb Fischer (R – NE) (202) 224-6551
Lindsey Graham (R – SC) (202) 224-5972
James Inhofe (R – OK) (202) 224-4721
Tim Kaine (D – VA) (202) 224-4024
Angus King (I – ME) (202) 224-5344
Mike Lee (R – UT) (202) 224-6444
Carl Levin (D – MI) (202) 224-6221
Joe Manchin (D – MI) (202) 224-3954
John McCain (R – AZ) (202) 224-2235
Claire McCaskill (D – MO)(202) 224-6154
Bill Nelson (D – FL) (202) 224-5274
Jack Reed (D – RI) (202) 224-4642
Jeff Sessions (R – AL) (202) 224-4124
Roger Wicker (R – MS) (202) 224-6253
The military shouldn’t be a safehouse for sexual predators, and these 17 senators disgraced their country when decided to put looking patriotic ahead of protecting military victims of sexual assault.