By Carrie Dann, Political Reporter, NBC News The nation s top military brass came under withering criticism Tuesday from high-profile female senators who slammed the military’s handling of allegations of sexual assault. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., addresses a panel of military officials Tuesday during a hearing on sexual assaults within the U.S .
armed services. Not all commanders are objective, Sen . Kirsten Gillibrand of New York told military leaders testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee .
Not every single commander necessarily wants women on the force, not every commander believes what a sexual assault is, not every single commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape because they merge all of these crimes together. Gillibrand has proposed legislation requiring sexual assault charges be handled outside the victim s chain of command . You have lost the trust of the men and women who rely on you, that you will actually bring justice in these cases, she said .
They are afraid to report . They think their careers will be over.
Sen . Claire McCaskill of Missouri said that the military’s methods for processing claims fail to take into account the root causes of sexual assault.
“This isn’t about sex,” she said. “This is about assaultive domination and violence . And as long as those two get mushed together, you all are not going to be as successful as you need to be at getting after the most insidious part of this, which is the predators in your ranks that are sullying the great name of our American military.
/ U.S .
military leaders, including all six members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military on Tuesday. McCaskill has proposed a bill that would not remove commanders decision-making authority to address charges but would stiffen penalties and eliminate opportunities for leaders to nullify or change a conviction of sexual assault, argued forcefully that the military s system of reporting sexual crimes is flawed. Commanders promised Tuesday to act swiftly to eradicate the cancer of sexual assaults in the armed services but voiced united opposition to proposed legislation that would limit commanders authority to address charges of sexual assault within their chain of command.
Pledging to act swiftly and deliberately to address the spike in sexual assaults, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E . Dempsey told the panel that the military is open to many aspects of proposed legislation that would change the way its justice system deals with those accused of sexual assault and rape . But Dempsey and the heads of each branch of the military agreed that commanders must be able to make decisions about how reported crimes are handled.
Senator Claire McCaskill addresses a group of military officials at a hearing Tuesday regarding legislation to combat sexual assaults. That stance was not enough to satisfy senators pushing for an overhaul of the military justice system including some high-profile female lawmakers — who grilled the heads of each military branch and charged that the current policy fails to distinguish adequately between different crimes and can discourage victims from reporting sexual assaults. “If I believed that removing commanders from their central role of responsibility in addressing sexual assault would solve these crimes within our ranks, I would be your strongest proponent,” General Raymond Odierno, the Chief of Staff of the Army, told the panel. “But removing commanders, making commanders less responsible and less accountable, will not work.”
The heads of every branch of the U.S . military were testified Tuesday before the panel of lawmakers, which has voiced mounting frustration with a nearly 30 percent increase in estimated sexual assaults in the armed services over the last three years.
Discipline is the heart of the military culture and trust is its soul, said panel chairman Sen . Carl Levin of Michigan .
The plague of sexual assault erodes both the heart and the soul. Sen . John McCain of Arizona, a veteran of the Vietnam War who spent over five years as a prisoner, said that he could not give an “unqualified” recommendation to a young woman considering joining the military as a result of the scourge of sexual assaults.
A Pentagon report in May showed the estimated number of victims of sexual assault last year jumped to 26,000, up from 19,000 in 2010 . Of those, just 3,374 cases were reported, indicating that many victims stay silent out of fear that they could face retribution or indifference if they speak up. Those statistics have also been punctuated by a string of scandals involving military leaders including some whose job descriptions include sexual assault prevention being charged with crimes against women.
Last month, President Barack Obama said he has instructed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to step up our game exponentially to address the crimes. I have no tolerance for this, he said during a May 7 press conference . If we find out somebody s engaging in this stuff, they ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged period.
This story was originally published on Tue Jun 4, 2013 8:09 AM EDT
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On Tuesday, President Barack Obama addressed reports that incidents of rape have increased dramatically in the United States military over the course of his first term in office . Obama said that he was aware of the issue and had already spoke to Defense Department officials about it . The president added that he hopes service personnel found guilty of assault would be prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court marshaled, fired, dishonorably discharged .
It s not acceptable, Obama said.
The Pentagon said today that there may be as many as 70 sexual assaults a day in the military, up by 35 percent during your term in office, said Christi Parsons, White House correspondent for the Tribune newspapers . Can you speak to the culture in the US military that may be at play here and talk about your response to that and what you can do going forward to improve things?
Let s start with the principle that sexual assault is an outrage . It is a crime .
That s true for society at large and, if it s happening inside our military, than anyone who carries it out is betraying the uniform that they re wearing, Obama began . They may consider themselves patriots but, when you engage in this kind of behavior, that s not patriotic . It s a crime.
This is not a new phenomenon, Obama continued .
Up and down the chain, we are seeing a process, a system, of accountability and transparency so that we can root this out completely.
We re going to have to not just step up our game, we re going to have to exponentially step up our game to go at this thing hard, Obama added.
The president said to servicemen and women who have been victims of sexual assault that I ve got their backs, and there will be accountability .
He said that rape dishonors the members of the armed services who are guilty of sexual assault.
I have no tolerance for this, Obama said .
And I expect consequences, so I don t want just more speeches, or awareness programs, or training, but ultimately folks look the other way.
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New Zealand have just legalized gay marriage .
What’s Australia’s deal then??
Fort Campbell, Kentucky An Army lieutenant colonel recently issued an email alert to notify his subordinates of certain domestic hate groups, which include Christian pro-family organizations.
Reporter Todd Starnes obtained a copy of the email, which was sent by an unnamed official stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky . It was received by approximately three dozen soldiers under his command.
Many events have been taking place across the country just want to ensure everyone is somewhat educated on some of the groups out there that do not share our Army values, the email begins . When we see behaviors that are inconsistent with Army values don t just walk by do the right thing and address the concern before it becomes a problem.
It then provides a list of various domestic hate groups, lumping anti-gay and anti-Muslim individuals with Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Confederate, Neo-Nazi, racist Skinhead and White Nationalist groups .
The email then breaks down each group in a detailed description.
Opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians has been a central theme of Christian Right organizing and fundraising for the past three decades, a period that parallels the fundamentalist movement s rise to political power, it states . For Christian Right leaders, the gay rights movement and its so-called homosexual agenda are the prime culprits in the destruction of American society and culture.
In the words of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, the battle against gay rights is essentially a second civil war to put control of the U.S . government in the right hands, meaning those who reject gay rights, the email continues .
The religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies in its efforts to beat back the increasingly confident gay rights movement . One of those has been defamation . Many of its leaders have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling, describing LGBT people as perverts with filthy habits who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and convert them to gay sex.
It then lists Tony Perkins Family Research Council and Don Wildmon s American Family Association as anti-gay hate groups, next to Westboro Baptist Church.
The email also targets organizations that it considers to be anti-Muslim hate groups following the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
All anti-Muslim hate groups exhibit extreme hostility toward Muslims, it outlines .
The organizations portray those who worship Islam as fundamentally alien and attribute to its followers an inherent set of negative traits . Muslims are depicted as irrational, intolerant and violent, and their faith is frequently depicted as sanctioning pedophilia, marital rape and child marriage.
Anti-Muslim hate groups allege that Muslims are trying to subvert the rule of law by imposing on Americans their own Islamic legal system, Shariah law, the correspondence continues . Anti-Muslim hate groups also broadly defame Islam, which they tend to treat as a monolithic and evil religion .
These groups generally hold that Islam has no values in common with other cultures, is inferior to the West and is a violent political ideology rather than a religion.
Among the plethora of organizations listed as being anti-Muslim hate groups include Christian Guardians, Concerned American Citizens, 9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero and Christian Action Network.
Tony Perkins of Family Research Council said that he was shocked by the email alert to Army officials.
It s very disturbing to see where the Obama administration is taking the military and using it as a laboratory for social experimentation and also as an instrument to fundamentally change the culture, he stated .
The message is very clear: If you are a Christian who believes in the Bible, who believes in transcendent truth, there is no place for you in the military.
However, Army spokesperson George Wright asserted that the military is not out to attack or undermine Christians.
The notion that the Army is taking an anti-religion or anti-Christian stance is contrary to any of our policies, doctrines and regulations, he said .
Any belief that the Army is out to label religious groups in a negative manner is without warrant.
An investigation is now reportedly underway to find the individual responsible for sending the email and the motive behind it.
Army Email Allegedly Labels Christian Organizations That Oppose Gay Marriage as Domestic Hate Groups
In a new report alleging anti-conservative bias in the military, Fox News Todd Starnes claims1 that a U.S . Army officer sent an e-mail to subordinates, listing the American Family Association and the Family Research Council as “domestic hate groups.” The basis for this label ? Both oniations oppose same-sex marriage and homosexuality.
The message, apparently sent by Lt .
Col . Jack Rich at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, also instructed those who received the e-mail to be on the look-out for fellow soldiers who might be supporters of the organizations (or who, at the least, aren’t upholding “Army Values“).
“Just want to ensure everyone is somewhat educated on some of the groups out there that do not share our Army Values,” the note read, according to Starnes’ report2. “When we see behaviors that are inconsistent with Army Values — don’t just walk by — do the right thing and address the concern before it becomes a problem.”
Photo Credit: AP
The 14-page email documented groups the military considers to be anti-gay, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim . Among the other groups mentioned are Neo-Nazis, Racist Skinheads, White Nationalists and the Ku Klux Klan.
“The religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies in its efforts to beat back the increasingly confident gay rights movement,” the officer wrote. “One of those has been defamation.”
The officer accused the “Christian Right” of “engaging in the crudest type of name-calling, describing LGBT people as ‘perverts” with ‘filthy habits’ who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and ‘convert’ them to gay sex,” he wrote.
Some cultural warriors would likely look at this, teamed with some of the other incidents unfolding of late, and assume that there’s a war on Christianity — one that has worked its way into the U.S .
Of course, others would dismiss such a notion as silly and unfounded. While Tony Perkins, who heads FRC, called the e-mail evidence that the military has become anti-Christian in nature, a Pentagon spokesperson denied such allegations.
“The notion that the Army is taking an anti-religion or anti-Christian stance is contrary to any of our policies, doctrines and regulations,” said Army spokesperson George Wright. “Any belief that the Army is out to label religious groups in a negative manner is without warrant.”
Wright told Starnes that the military is looking into the e-mail’s origins, who commanded it be sent and other surrounding details.
Army training instructor listed Evangelical Christianity, Catholicism and even “Islamophobia” as examples of “religious extremism” during a training brief.
^ Fox News Todd Starnes claims (radio.foxnews.com)
AP – Cynthia Nixon learned the hard way this week that when it comes to gay civil rights, the personal is always political. Very political.
The rest is here:?
Actress’ claim to be gay by choice riles activists