As the Congress works on new defense bills, one thing they\’re focusing on is how to reduce the number of sexual assaults in the military, crimes that have gotten the armed forces a lot of negative attention in recent weeks.
The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment Wednesday from Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan that would require an investigation if a commander overrules a military prosecutor\’s advice to charge a soldier with a sex crime. That measure replaces one from New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose proposal would have taken the decision entirely out of the hand of military commanders.
Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal said he supports Gillibrand\’s idea and said there needs to be a bigger change in how the military prosecutes sex crimes.
\”My fear is that passing the Chairman’s amendment will look to victims as though we are simply tinkering with the process,\” Blumenthal said in a statement. \”The system will essentially remain a black box for them.\”
The amendment cleared the Senate committee in a 17-9 vote. The defense bill is working its way through the committee process and still has a long way to go before it becomes official law. Members of the House also voted to strengthen protections for sexual assault victims in their version of the bill last week.