As is usually the case, we see once again some type of legislation when it comes to the issue of sexual assault and harassment. There are the usual rally cries of an “epidemic” following a survey, followed by some aggressive action by political officeholders to immediately enact legislation to correct the alleged epidemic.
I am referring to the proposed Military Justice Improvement Act (S 967) written and sponsored by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. This proposal and its various amendments are being debated on the Senate floor. If this passes in the Senate it will go the House for a vote. Currently there are certain predictions that it will not get through the House in its current version, but once legislators who oppose this act start hearing the screams of being anti-women and being a ‘rape apologist,’ some will fold and sign off on it, rather than support their position.
We have heard ad nauseum of the epidemic of sexual assault in our military. There is a number that has been floated around that in fiscal year 2012 there were 26,000 sexual assaults in the military. I. like many others, shook my head in wondrous amazement as to how that could be remotely possible, so I began to find out.
After some considerable difficulty, I was able to get some answers, and they are all contained in the Department of Defense (DOD) Sexual Assault Prevention Response Office 2012 Report. The half million dollar, three-volume, 1,800+ page report is as comprehensive as it is confusing, and many parts were carried out by various governmental contractors.
There is a tremendous amount of information, but here is the reader’s digest on how they arrived at this number:
108,478 military service members were surveyed, both men and women. The actual numbers of each gender were not disclosed. The service members had to have at least six months of active duty service. Out of that number, 22,792 responded to what the DOD calls an eligible response, a rate of approximately 24%. 23% of the men surveyed responded while 29% of the women surveyed responded. A response was deemed to be “eligible” when at least 50% of the survey questions were answered. The actual survey and the responses have not been made public and are classified and are only accessible to certain members of the DOD.
Members of the Coast Guard were not surveyed, nor were any members in Reserve Units, and the survey excluded any military member of “flag” rank.
So we have 22,792 people respond who answered at least 50% of the questions and out of those responses it was determined that there were 26,000 sexual assaults. You can already start to see the fuzzy math.
Here is one of the first parts where it gets interesting.
The survey participants were asked a number of questions as to whether they have ever been the victim of an unwanted sexual assault or contact for a period of time while they have been in the military AND up to a year PRIOR to entering the military. Yes, you read that right and it is clearly stated in the DOD report; a year PRIOR to them entering the military.
The sexual assault part is clear and we usually think of the usual crimes of rape, sodomy, oral copulation and the like. It also includes acts such as groping or touching.
Here is another part where it gets interesting.
In the survey, in addition to the usual question(s) of being the victim of an unwanted sexual assault or contact, there was another category.
This category is listed in the report as “unwanted gender-related behaviors.”
The first question I had was, WTF is an “unwanted gender-related behavior?” Looking further, the report specifies 12 separate sexual harassment behaviors, such as inadvertently walking into a group where an offensive joke is being told, or being asked out on a date if it was unwanted. There were a host of other similar behaviors, but you get the point.
Using that same logic, if I was still in the military and had to watch former DHS Director Janet Napolitano waddle her ass into a Pentagon briefing on TV, I guess I could consider that an unwanted gender-related behavior. I would have put it more in the repulsed category but maybe that category wasn’t listed.
These same unwanted gender-related behaviors also included the time frame of a year prior to entering the service. Apparently the DOD wanted to make sure that all of the survey participants were fully knowledgeable as to what constitutes a sexual assault or contact. Apparently the DOD needed to inform or educate individuals that an innocuous act that occurred prior to them entering the service was now, by definition, considered a sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact of some sort.
According to the DOD, the simple act of asking someone out on a date, and if they did not want to be asked out, has now been classified as an unwanted sexual contact or unwanted gender-related behavior, and it was counted in this survey.
Correct me if I am wrong, but men have been asking women out, and vice-versa, since the inception of language, but for the purposes of this survey and the deception of the American people this simple act is now criminal if the recipient did not want to be asked.
Now you can see how these statistics have been manipulated and how they arrived at this astronomical figure of 26,000 sexual assaults or contacts in fiscal year 2012, with only 22,792 responses. The figure is thrown around as if it is gospel which prompts some radical legislation to fix this “epidemic.”
There is another statistic that debunks the myth that military members, primarily women, are hesitant to come forward to report that they have been a victim, because they don’t know what to do.
Approximately 96% of those who responded to the survey indicated that they were aware of reporting procedures for sexual assaults in the military and who had received some form of formal training or attended briefings on sexual assault, harassment, and reporting. The issue of the education of what “sexual assault and harassment” is one of the first priorities for training when new people enter the military, and virtually everybody has been trained.
Many of the Soldiers and Marines that I have interviewed called them their “briefings to teach them not to rape,” because they are essentially told that they are all rapists by the mere fact that they have a penis and have to be trained not to be rapists. They have also said that the overkill in this area is demoralizing, demeaning, and is decimating morale.
There are more people in the military who know more about what is and how to report sexual assault and harassment, than there are who know how to properly disassemble and operate an M4.
If you take a look at the websites for every military installation, the sexual assault and harassment resources, offices, advocates, policies, and reporting procedures are listed everywhere. Contrary to popular belief, military members who have been the victim of a sexual assault or harassment have all kinds of resources available to report the incidents; they do not have to go to their commander (who may or may not be the violator).
Another comment floated around by Senators in the hearing was the high percentage of non-reporting by sexual assault victims to military authorities. While there are instances of victims not reporting, those incidents that military members experienced prior to them entering the military would not be subject to military jurisdiction.
Another myth that is debunked by this report was something that was covered in recent Senate hearings, in which Senator Gillibrand took the lead. Several women who testified about this alleged epidemi, kept implying that all sexual assaults are committed by military men of command rank, upon subordinate women, and that these poor rape victims had to salute their attackers.
The DOD report indicates that less than three percent of all of the allegations of sexual assault or contact involved someone who was in their direct chain of command. The report didn’t specify which gender was the victim or offender.
The actual numbers of reports of sexual assault or contact in the military for fiscal year 2012 are estimated to be around 3,300, with some form of disciplinary action in approximately 1,100 of those cases – hardly a number that would justify major legislative change. Many of the Senators and news reports claim that out of the 3,300 formal reports, there were slightly over 300 convictions. There was and has been no mention of the instances of false allegations that were ultimately admitted to or where determined as a result of an investigation.
The exact figure of sexual assaults, as opposed to sexual harassment cases, was not reported. For a military population of nearly two million, 3,300 reports, and 1,100 adjudicated cases of sexual assault and harassment are considerably lower than the general population, and certainly not indicative of an epidemic.
The report also notes that only 67% of the acts occurred on a military installation, and a percentage of the acts were committed by foreign nationals, and civilians, upon a military member. If a female military member goes to a bar off a military installation, and is groped by a foreign national, how is that a military sexual assault problem?
The bottom line is that the figure of 26,000 purported cases of “sexual assault and contact” that occurred in the military during fiscal year 2012 is an inherently dubious figure. Only by misrepresenting, distorting, and convoluting the survey information do we arrive at this figure. This is always the case when dramatic legislation is proposed to correct an epidemic: the survey is constructed and implemented in such a way so as to achieve the desired result – a result that could be touted as evidence of a problem.
How is it remotely possible, given this convoluted statistical compilation, that we can accurately gauge what the actual problem is? The explanation for this mess is clear: the hysteria is driven by an agenda – an agenda in which a delusional belief system is in place, and in order to quantify that belief, a flawed statistical analysis has to be constructed and presented to the public and pressure placed on political leaders to act swiftly to enact legislation before the facts and the agenda are discovered.
The solution as proposed by Senator Gillibrand is called The Military Justice Improvement Act. Don’t be fooled by fuzzy sounding names, and it is critically important for everyone reading this to call, write or email your Senators and congressional representatives and ask them not to support this bill.
There are problems that occur from time to time in the reporting and handling of military sexual assault and harassment cases, but just like in the hysteria a decade ago of the sexual assault “epidemic” at the Air Force Academy, calls for sweeping reforms and investigations come from across the spectrum. In the end and after a lengthy inquiry by the Air Force Office of Inspector General found that none of the allegations were handled improperly, only one cadet was convicted of rape, and less than a dozen others received some form of non-judicial punishment, (Article 15).
What this act seeks to do is to remove certain commanders from the decision-making process, when the crime is punishable by more than one year in confinement. Military-related offenses, such as disobeying an order or going AWOL are exempt. Special emphasis is placed on sexual assault cases.
What Senator Gillibrand and her cohort are trying to accomplish is to remove a commander’s authority and ability to have any input on criminal matters that affect their unit. This could be an example where a military member has committed a theft of military equipment in a combat area and that commander decides not to prosecute at that particular time due to manpower restraints.
Gillibrand’s intent is clear: she is intent on removing any reasonable oversight only for sexual assault cases, making it illegal for a commander to reign in an over-zealous prosecutor or investigator, or to overturn a wrongful conviction or reduce a sentence if the facts and evidence do not support a particular decision.
Back in May, Gillibrand held up the transfer of Air Force Lieutenant General Susan Helms, a former Space Shuttle Endeavour astronaut, as the Vice Commander to Space Command, because she did what a commander is supposed to do: General Helms overturned a sexual assault conviction of a male captain who had been convicted solely on the allegation of a subordinate, absent any other evidence, and in light of evidence presented of his innocence. General Helms did not arbitrarily vacate the conviction, but only did so after she read, word for word, the entire transcript of the courts-martial and after conferring with a number of military lawyers for their opinion.
This is a classic example of the type of military commander oversight that Gillibrand is trying to eliminate. What General Helms did was completely correct and the right and responsible thing to do. Sadly for the citizens, General Helms decided to retire from the military rather than deal with this kind of lunacy.
Gillibrand seeks to prevent character and military service considerations of the accused from entering into any proceeding, and seeks to virtually reduce or eliminate any cross-examination of sexual assault victims in Article 32 hearings which are probable cause hearings.
In any criminal case, whether that is civilian or military, an accused has the right to face and confront their accuser in a court of law. It’s called cross-examination.
In Gillibrand’s mind and the minds of ideologues, when you properly and lawfully cross-examine a sexual assault victim in a court of law, you are “attacking” the victim. We only hear the “attacking” part when it involves a female sexual assault victim, not some guy who reports his car stolen to collect the insurance money. Gillibrand wants no questions asked by defense counsel, no cross-examination of sexual assault victims in Article 32 hearings other than the generic questions.
The act also allows for provisions for special courts-martial which have not been specifically defined. Some Senators have proposed allowing a sexual assault victim to choose whether or not they want the case to be heard by a civilian court or a military court. The special courts-martial provision allows for the possibility for the removal of cases from the military judicial process and into federal courts at the direction of politically appointed or ideologically driven federal prosecutors. This defies the constitutional protection for a military member to be judged by his peers.
The act also seeks to severely limit the evidentiary considerations during Article 32 hearings. Plainly put, the act seeks to prohibit any good information coming out for the benefit of the accused and seeks to prohibit any bad information coming out that is harmful to the accuser. For example, an impeccable service record of a service member accused would be prohibited from entering into the proceedings while the negative service record of an accuser, including prior reports of false allegations, would be prohibited from entering into the proceedings. The determination of the truth will be severely if not completely handicapped.
What Gillibrand is proposing is to force a case to courts-martial with little to no evidence other than just an allegation in a he-said/she-said case. This is what we see in civilian restraining order and domestic violence cases: just an allegation is sufficient to justify an arrest or the issuance of a protective order.
We used to see similar types of archaic judicial proceedings in our history. They were called witch trails in medieval times. That is what this act proposes, and what Gillibrand and her cohort want for our military. Gillibrand and her supporters want cases brought to courts-martial (trial) in each and every case whether or not there exists sufficient probable cause to justify a courts-martial.
A military member also faces the possibility under this act for a Dishonorable Discharge even if he or she is found not-guilty in a court-martial or is cleared during the investigative or pre-trial phase. This will escalate to what we are now seeing on college campuses wherein an allegation alone is sufficient to remove a student from a college campus.
The act essentially eliminates the presumption of innocence, and reduces or eliminates truthful or factual information and evidence from entering in the proceedings, and prevents a commander from reducing or vacating a sentence when there is evidence of severe wrongdoing, malicious prosecution, or prosecutorial misconduct in cases of sexual assault.
One recent case in the national news, published here and on other sites, was the wrongful rape conviction of Mr. Brian Banks, who spent over five years in prison, based on nothing more than the word of his accuser. Not until after he was released and his accuser was recorded on video that she made up the story was he finally vindicated. Mr. Banks lost out on a college football scholarship and a possible career in the National Football League. His false accuser has never been charged.
What is also occurring now in the military is the vast increase of the numbers of false allegations of sexual assault and harassment, primarily by female military members for the purposes of avoiding deployment to combat areas or to be removed from combat areas. The DOD is now forcing the concept of women serving in combat units on one hand, but then they come out with this report on the alleged sexual assault epidemic and “unwanted gender-related behaviors” that necessitates radical legislative overhaul.
Common sense would dictate that if there really was an epidemic of sexual assault, then the DOD would certainly not put women in an environment where there could be more instances of unwanted sexual assault or contact or the so-called unwanted gender-related behaviors. So if we put women in foxholes, what happens when the male has to urinate after being in a hole for 15 or 20 hours? Does he wear a diaper so as not to offend his female counterpart? What does the women do if she has to attend to her female needs? Does she risk infection so as not to offend her male counterpart?
Exactly WTF are we supposed to do?
The Military Justice Improvement Act does nothing to improve military justice – it actually makes it worse. While there are cases of sexual assault and harassment in the military, there is hardly an epidemic. This act does not move us forward, it goes in reverse and it will decimate our military.
I strongly urge everyone to contact your representatives and ask them to oppose this act and any other similar-sounding act, and anything else that Senator Gillibrand proposes, even if she wants to propose legislation to feed ducks at the local park. The mind of this woman is dangerous and she has no desire to improve our military justice system; she actually intends to make it worse, primarily for men.
Like a shark, she has picked up the scent of blood in the water and wants to convict military men for sexual assault at any and all costs. She intends to eliminate the normal oversight and evidentiary process and she has touted this flawed and dishonest DOD survey to support her position.
This is the military version of the “Dear Colleague Letter” on steroids.
In fact the more appropriate name for this bill should be the Military Injustice Violation Act.