(Washington, DC) – Today, during a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) opposed an amendment to the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would strike a provision offered by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to remove military sexual assault prosecutions from the chain of command.
The amendment Blumenthal opposed – offered by Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) – would create an inadequate military review process for sexual assault charges, and fails to separate prosecutorial authority of this crime from the chain of command. The Committee passed Levin's amendment by a vote of 17-9.
A portion of Blumenthal’s remarks are below. Video of his full remarks can be found HERE.
“ I think we have to look at this problem from the standpoint, not just of the commanding authority, but from the victims – how the military justice system looks to him or her. And my fear is that passing the Chairman’s amendment will look to victims as though we are simply tinkering with the process. The system will essentially remain a black box for them,” Blumenthal told the Committee. “Under the Chairman’s amendment, there will be little to no opportunity for the victim’s to participate and virtually no information during this supposed system of review and the review itself, and, in almost every instance, the case will never reach anybody in civilian authority.”
Blumenthal added, “So I will continue to support the Gillibrand proposal to make a more demonstrative change in the current military justice system, and I join in the view that the military leadership of this country will not be left off the hook. They don’t expect to be left off the hook, and they will hold themselves accountable. And I hope that we can continue to work to make the military justice system worthy of the greatest military in the history of the world, a military that is changing because we have a new generation entering the Armed Services and because we’re promoting more women, which I think may be the two decisive factors in changing the culture.”