Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Veterans Corner

November 4, 2013

Pentagon report paints ugly picture

(Continued)

All information pointed to two factors – one a new plague, the other as old as the military itself.

The plague is the proliferation of violence toward women in films and video games, which recruits are bringing in with them.

The other, a military justice system with origins dating to the Revolutionary War that gives commanders of accused troops ultimate power over legal proceedings.

American military justice evolved during the past century to closely resemble proceedings in a federal courtroom, with prosecution, penitentiary standards, witness testimony and trial by jury before a trained judge. There is one glaring exception.

The decision on whether charges should be brought, who sits on the jury and whether a conviction or punishment can stand is controlled buy a high-ranking officer who is the defendant’s superior.

The officer is neither a lawyer nor a judge, although he or she receives written advice from a military attorney.  

Britain, Canada and other countries have moved away from this principle of commanding officer’s authority, but it lives on in the American military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice created by Congress.

The military has proven that it is incapable of doing the job.

Commanders reduce as many as a third of sexual abuse punishments.

A commander’s authority is not entirely misplaced, but it can be abused.

What commander wants his record to reflect this type of abuse on his watch.  

Having the greatest military in the world, asking everything of them, to include dying for their country, the military shouldn’t be asked to subject itself to sexual assault and rape.

If we allow the military to report outside the chain of command, allow that decision-making to be made by a prosecutor, not the commanding officer, justice will prevail more often.

Sadly, the sexual abuse of military women is at an alarming rate.

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