Both of Missouri’s senators are critical of top military leaders who want to be the ones deciding if sexual assault charges should be filed against those in the services.
Senators McCaskill and Blunt are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee which has nine bills sponsored or co-sponsored by 40 members of the Senate. One of the most-discussed bills takes away authority of commanders to decide if sexual assault cases will be prosecuted, and gives that power to prosecutors, a prospect opposed by the top officers of the five military services..
Senator McCaskill, who sponsors two of the other bills, says a letter from the General who reversed the sexual assault court martial conviction of an officer proves the need for big changes.
AUDIO: McCaskill :29
She’s also critical because the military does not keep specific records on serious sex crimes. She says the military’s record of “unwelcome sexual contact” is vague and reveals nothing about how many rapes occur each year. “We have no idea right now” about “how many men and women are being raped,” she said during the hearing.
Senator Blunt was unimpressed by the answers from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Chief of Naval Operations who were asked if they had consulted military leaders in other countries about how they deal with sexual assault cases.
AUDIO: Blunt :32
Other Senators have argued rape victims need a system that guarantees their complaints will be heard and addressed without the possibility of repercussions against them.
The committee will send a bill to the Senate this summer.