Tags: Barack Obama | Kirsten Gillibrand | military | sexual assault | reform | Barack Obama

Sen. Gillibrand: Obama Failing on Military Sexual Assault Reform

Sen. Gillibrand: Obama Failing on Military Sexual Assault Reform
(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 05 June 2015 03:49 PM

New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says that President Barack Obama has failed to lead on sexual assault reform in the military.

In December 2013, Obama made a promise that he would consider forcing his own reforms of the Defense Department's judicial system if it didn't implement its own reforms within a year, but Gillibrand told Politico that the president has failed to follow through on that promise.

"He’s not providing leadership that he said he would," Gillibrand said. "He said, and so did [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman] Gen. [Martin] Dempsey, that they’re on the clock, they had a year to solve this problem, to fix this problem, to take responsibility for this problem, and they haven’t."

The Democrat tried to pass a measure aimed at reforming the legal system within the military on behalf of sexual assault victims in March 2014, but the amendment failed to pass by five votes. However, she did have support from then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republicans Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas.

Gillibrand is planning to bring the measure up for a vote in the Senate again next week. However, with opposition from both the Defense Department and from a bipartisan group of senators, the measure is expected to fail once again.

The Democrat wants to remove the chain of command when it comes to prosecuting sexual assault crimes in addition to other crimes in the military.

According to the Pentagon, it would like a chance to implement reforms that are already on the books. These changes include making it a crime to retaliate against assault victims who report a crime, implementing victim assistance programs throughout the military, and removing the power of commanders to overturn verdicts by juries.

"I think that really at this point we made very sweeping significant reforms and we should give time to implement those reforms," New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte told Politico.

"I still firmly believe we should hold commanders more accountable, not less accountable, for ensuring that victims are treated properly and also that within their units, they do everything they can to prevent and end sexual assault," Ayotte explained.

A report released by the Pentagon in early May revealed that 62 percent of female sexual assault victims say that they faced retaliation after reporting the alleged crime.

"To have that retaliation rate be at 62 percent, where they said, ‘This is why commanders need to be in charge, we're going to make sure there’s not retaliation.’ Well, if that was your measurable it’s a 100 percent failure," Gillibrand told Politico.

"I wish the president would show more leadership," Gillibrand added. "I wish he would understand how this is actually negatively affecting good order and discipline. It’s affecting our ability to have our best and brightest serving."

White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine told Politico that the Obama administration is working with Defense Secretary Ash Carter on the matter as the Defense Department works on implementing reforms "to prevent instances of sexual assault in the military."

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New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says that President Barack Obama has failed to lead on sexual assault reform in the military.
Kirsten Gillibrand, military, sexual assault, reform, Barack Obama
Friday, 05 June 2015 03:49 PM
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