Appearing on NBC’s Meet The Press on August 11, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) promised there would be “no coddling” of the Pentagon over new policies and investigations into the sexual abuse of female members of the military.
During the Sunday show, McCaskill spoke against the idea of taking too much power away from military commanders and placing investigations of sex abuse in the hands of outside prosecutors.
“If the commander doesn’t have any role, we’re letting them off the hook. And we cannot let these commanders off the hook; we have to hold them accountable,” McCaskill said to host David Gregory.
McCaskill, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is the principle author of the reforms. One provision in McCaskill’s bill would trigger review if a commander refuses to pursue any investigation of charges of sexual assaults.
Not everyone agrees with McCaskill; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) wants to put courts-martial in the hands of civilian prosecutors rather than military commanders.
“It’s essential that we do this,” Gillibrand recently said. “This has been elevated to national consciousness.”
But McCaskill claimed outside lawyers “get way too focused on the won-loss record and not about getting to the bottom of it.”
“We know that commanders are making these cases go forward–close to 100 times just in the last two years. Under the alternative, that’s almost 100 victims that would not have had their day in court,” McCaskill said.
She also claimed that victims would be “more protected” when involved in the investigation of sexual assault when a local commander “signed off” on the investigation as opposed to having the investigation being pushed by prosecutors that may be “hundreds of miles away.”
Senator McCaskill said she and the other women on the Armed Services Committee were committed to changing the military culture governing “unwanted sexual assault” in the military.
“We are working together and believe me, none of us are coddling the Pentagon on this issue. And we’re not going away,” she said.