Franken Co-Sponsors Military Justice Improvement Act; Will Kline Call It a Knee-Jerk Reaction

Right now, too many sexual assaults in our military go unreported. My daughter is a military veteran so I know exactly the kind of hard-working women we have in our armed forces. This situation is a travesty and we need to fix it now.
As a doctor, I’m used to working with others to find solutions. There are no Democrats or Republicans in the operating room—only team work. That’s how it should be and that’s exactly what we are doing,”
said Representative Dan Benishek (R-MI-01), a general surgeon and a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Representative Benishek is joined by Richard Hanna (R-NY-22), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02), a captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard, and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-09) offering H.R.2016 – the Military Justice Improvement Act.

Al_Franken_Official_Senate_PortraitA companion bill has been offered in the Senate — S. 967 … by fifteen Senators including Minnesota’s Al Franken.
The sheer number of sexual assaults experienced by members of our military is totally unacceptable. It’s outrageous how hard it is for these survivors to seek and get justice,” said Sen. Franken. “I’m proud to support legislation that will reform how the military justice system deals with those who commit these heinous crimes.”

The Military Justice Improvement Act is a bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would reform the military justice system by removing the prosecution of all crimes punishable by one year or more in confinement from the chain of command, except crimes that are uniquely military in nature, such as disobeying orders or going Absent Without Leave.

The objective is by empowering an independent judicial system for some crimes would give confidence to victims that reported crimes will be investigated and prosecuted …. the exact problem Senator Franked mentioned.

Yet, since the legislation is for “all” crimes punishable by more than one year, thus, it goes beyond just sexual assaults … and that may be a problem for some in the military … as reported in The Military Times :

A senior congressional aide who asked not to be identified said there is bipartisan concern that the legislation “is overbroad and potentially unworkable.”
“It is written as a large-scale overhaul of the military justice system, instead of being targeted specifically at sexual abuse cases,” said the aide.
This raises questions about how cases would be separated between military-unique and not-unique legal processes, the aide said.

Gosh, it sorta sounds like the unnamed congressional aide is warning to avoid “knee-jerk reactions” to events …
Gosh, has anyone else warned against “knee-jerk reactions” ?

Kline press photoWASHINGTON — The massacre of 20 students and six teachers at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., as once again put gun control on the agenda of Congress.
Republicans such as U.S. Rep. John Kline say there’s little evidence that a ban on assault weapons like the one that was in place between 1994 and 2004 would be effective.
“It’s not clear — you’d have to go back and do an in-depth analysis — that that resulted in a safer America,” said Kline, who represents the 2nd District.
What he doesn’t want to see is legislation right away.
“The sort of knee-jerk reaction to say, ‘We just have to pass a bill and make this stop’ doesn’t work,” Kline said. “It really takes a more thoughtful, comprehensive approach to try and do something about the violence in our society.”
Kline didn’t offer any specific ideas about what such an approach would involve.

Gosh, yes, we wouldn’t want a “knee-jerk reaction” without “in-depth analysis” before doing “something about the violence in our society.”
Thus far, has anyone heard Representative Kline “offer any specific ideas” ? ? ?

Well, for John Kline’s reference, here is the FY2012 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military listing the number of official reports of sexual assault :
2004 1,275
2005 1,774
2006 2,285
2007 2,223
2008 2,395
2009 2,670
2010 2,617
2011 2,723
2012 2,946
Note : John Kline has been a Member of the House Armed Service Committee during all those years.

The number of “reports” is dwarfed by the number of unreported.
Of victims who chose not to report, 47% indicated fear of retaliation or reprisal as a reason for not reporting and 43% had heard about the negative experiences of other victims who reported their situation. 74% of females and 60% of males perceived one or more barriers to reporting sexual assault.
(Reference SAPRO Annual Report page 360)
62% of victims who reported a sexual assault indicated they experienced professional, social or administrative retaliation.
(Reference SAPRO Annual Report page page 27)
And this is not just females that are sexually assaulted as the percentage of male service members who were victims of sexual assault increased from 0.9% in 2011 to 1.2% in 2012.

HouseArmedServicesCommitteeLogoJohn Kline has been on the sidelines for too long. Heck, House Armed Services Committee Chairman, Buck McKeon’s (R-CA-25) spokesman stated over five months ago, the Committee is “committed to having hearings on this issue, and the committee is working on putting that hearing together” … yeah, WHEN?
Finally, this week, Chairman McKeon issued a press release expressing his “outrage and disgust” and then passing the buck “calling on Secretary Hagel to conduct a review of the military and civilian leadership within the military services to determine whether they continue to hold his trust and his confidence to lead in this area.”
That’s right … better to challenge the “trust and his confidence” in someone who has been on the job since February 27, 2013 than to take Congressional action that is years overdue.

Sad to say, but as a second-term Member, Representative Dan Benishek may be showing he is a political novice, with his comment “There are no Democrats or Republicans in the operating room—only team work. That’s how it should be” … ’cause with the leadership of Buck McKeon and John Kline, this problem has been permanently on the back burner.
Sad to say that good Republicans like Dan Benishek, Richard Hanna, Mike Turner, Susan Collins, Chuck Grassley, Mike Johanns and others have to fight against HASC Members that fear “knee-jerk reactions” to these heinous crimes.

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