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Gillibrand Gaining?

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Sen. Rand Paul announces his support for removing commanders from investigations of serious military crimes, including sexual assault, alongside Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is leading the charge for the change.

The battle to remove the military’s chain of command from investigating sexual assaults has intensified as a pair of Tea Party senators has allied with 33 of their more liberal colleagues in the effort.

Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., declared their support Tuesday for the so-called Military Justice Improvement Act authored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. The bill would give the power to investigate and prosecute allegations of sexual abuse and other possible crimes to a senior military officer outside the accused’s chain of command.

“I see no reason why conservatives shouldn’t support this,” Paul said.

“This is not a Democratic idea,” Gillibrand added. “It is not a Republican idea. It is a good idea that meets the needs of the victims, creates transparency and accountability, and creates the needed objectivity that this issue deserves.”

The backing of Cruz and Paul surprised political operatives on both sides of the issue. “Rand Paul gets it right,” read an email from Erica Payne at the liberal Agenda Project. “A decidedly progressive value is to give credit where credit is due and today every progressive in America should give credit to Rand Paul — and his Tea Party colleague Ted Cruz — for doing the right thing about rape in the military.”

But William Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard wasn’t pleased, declaring that “Paul and Cruz Join the Anti-Military Caucus” in a blog post. “Sens. Paul and Cruz are signing on to Sen. Gillibrand’s proposal to undermine the military’s chain of command,” he said, “on behalf of the pseudo-crisis of military sexual assault.”

Gillibrand’s growing bipartisan alliance to reach 51 votes still has a tough battle ahead, given that the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 17-9 last month to keep commanders in charge of such investigations, a position supported by senior U.S. military leaders. “It’s commanders who make it work,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Tuesday about his preferred approach, which would tighten oversight of such investigations. “They give orders — they discipline people who violate those orders, and that’s what you want.”

The issue could come to the Senate floor as early as next week. Sexual assault in the U.S. military has come to a head following the May release of a Pentagon report estimating that sexual assaults in the ranks jumped by 35% between 2010 and 2012, and a string of sexual assaults dating back to the Navy’s 1991 Tailhook scandal where naval aviators assault dozens of women at their drunken annual convention in Las Vegas.

“It’s enough with the words,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who won election to the Senate the year after Tailhook, following a decade in the House, and who endorses Gillibrand’s proposal. “It’s enough with the empty promises. It’s time for some real change.”

9 comments
WilfTarquin
WilfTarquin

What's Rand Pauls beef in this? He never does anything he doesn't stand to gain from personally, so what is it this time?

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

A millitary chain of command cannot ever adequately and impartially "police itself" as long as the commanders have a vested career-interest in having spotless unit records.  How motivated will a Colonel (who hopes one day to make General) be to have a sexual assult scandal in his unit-record?  Even if it is not something that the Colonel could not have reasonably forseen or prevented, the millitary is infamous for putting promotions on-hold for real or perceived infractions.  For example...the poor guy who ran the minesweeper up on a reef in Indonesia will never, ever see a promotions board again...even if he was working from faulty charts.  His fault?  Maybe not...but that's completely irrelevant in the millitary.

I want to know the opinion of those opposing this legislation regarding the practice of the Roman Catholic church policing itself of sexually predatory priests.  I would be willing to bet a paycheck that well-over 51% of the Senate would agree that this is just plain stupid (and yes, I'm Catholic).  Why should the millitary-version of this fiasco be any different?

evil.aaronm
evil.aaronm

Because the chain of command policing themselves has worked so well.  It's worked so well, in fact, that we no longer have sexual assaults in our military.  Oh, wait - that's not correct.

Hey, Kristol, I'd bet you'd be singing a different tune if it were your daughter that was sexually assaulted by some guy, who then got off scot-free, because his superiors thought it expedient to brush the case aside.  Go f..k yourself.

611juniper1
611juniper1

And we want to keep people in charge who spend $34 million on a building that no one wanted, wasn't needed, and now we'll have to pay more to tear down, http://nation.time.com/2013/07/17/the-rest-of-the-story-3/?  And you think if you do that somehow the problem will be solved?  Don't think so ... kudos to the Senators who finally are beginning to appreciate the problems with military leadership.  (I just came off a 3 month consulting assignment with a defense agency and was stunned at the poor quality of management AND really stunned that no one, even peers or superiors, would do anything about it.)


lordofthefly
lordofthefly

Both Gillibrand and Paul are possible presidential contenders for 2016 and beyond.

Younger voters like to see collaboration and compromise. Beyond that, this is very encouraging if sexual assaults in the military will be taken seriously by its current crop of old men in charge. Chuck Hagel, though another old-timer, is no-nonsense and comes closer to making sure changes will happen than Dempsey or anyone else currently ranking high. Military leadership has not had a respectable decade.

anon76
anon76

"pseudo-crisis"?  Krystol really is a slime ball.

lordofthefly
lordofthefly

@anon76 

Let's ignore him. It's easy to do. He's old school and stuck in time.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@anon76 

People who say things like that should have to do it in front of the ones that were pseudo sexually assaulted.

anon76
anon76

@MrObvious

That reminds me of back in 2007 when the Iranians used 6 gunboats to apprehend 15 British sailors and marines on inflatable rafts, and all the Neocons were falling allover themselves to say what cowards the Brits were for going down without a fight.

My favorite quote came from NRO's John Derbyshire, who at one point admitted "I nurse a quiet hope that if put to the test, I would stand up as well as any Marine."  My immediate thought was that he get his hope, in the form of a back alley confrontation with a Royal Marine.  

Chickenhawks (of whom Kristol might be the king) seem to only respect the troops when they're dying- anything short of that is just wimpy and complaining about pseudo-crises.