Lawmakers Rip Military on Sexual Assault

NGAUS Washington Report

(May 14, 2013) Two members of Congress who are also National Guard officers criticized the military’s handling of sexual assaults in the ranks during a television interview Sunday.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, think the military has done a poor job addressing the problem. They were interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I want the military to be a place where women can succeed and thrive the way I was able to,” said Duckworth, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Guard and a wounded veteran of the Iraq war. “And the military leadership at this point has shown that they have not been capable of fixing this problem.”

Gabbard, who is a captain in the Hawaii Guard and a veteran of the Iraq war, criticized a recent case where a commander overturned the conviction of an officer charged with sexual assault.

“A commander should not have the power to overturn a jury’s verdict,” she said.

Meanwhile, concern has grown that all of the talk from political leadership about the problem may make acquittals difficult even in cases where the evidence does not support conviction.

Maj. Babu Kaza, a Marine Corps Reserve attorney, told McClatchy Newspapers, “If commanders, military judges, military lawyers and members of a military jury must now accept that politically unpopular military-justice decisions will draw the condemnation of our civilian leadership, and possibly have a negative impact on their careers, then the entire system is fraudulent.”