Friday, June 14, 2013

My Letter To Senator Carl Levin

   I am posting this e-mail I sent to Senator Carl Levin because I am angry about his recent action in the Senate to disarm a bill concerning sexual assaults in the U.S. military. Sexual assaults are quite common in our armed forces. I know something about this. They are also rarely prosecuted. The military strives hard to keep a squeaky-clean image. Legal issues are traditionally handled in-house and are therefore pretty darn easy to hide from the public. Other Senators (namely Kirsten Gillibrand) have recently proposed to have military sexual assault cases handled by a source independent of the military chain of command. This was a great idea, squashed this week by Senator Levin who moved to add an "extra review step" within the chain of command. (Watch the documentary "The Invisible War" by Kirby Dick for more insight on how sexual assaults in the military are generally handled.) 

Senator Levin,

   I am just disgusted with your movement to add an extra "in-house" review step in the prosecution of military sexual assault cases instead of allowing an independent source to handle them. I've read your statements on your website, and I just read your USA Today article. You have no idea how far you've set back the struggle for justice that victims in our military are fighting for. Try to imagine a young woman (or man) being assaulted at boot camp or overseas on active duty. This is a HUMILIATING one wants to run forward and tell their commanding officer that they've been raped or abused. You say that if the commanding officer decides not to prosecute, then a "higher-level review" is required along with an “automatic review” done by a service secretary if the commanding officer overrules his legal advisors.  One of the major issues we are having is that the cases are not reaching the legal advisors.  Who exactly is going to oversee and enforce these extra steps? Is it up to the victim to make sure this happens? Is the victim going to have to set up yet another humiliating meeting to tell the higher-level officer and the secretary all about the rape? The more hurdles you put in front of a victim, the less likely they will be able to jump over them. You either have no concept of what it is like to be a victim of sexual assault, or you just don't care. Either way, you have done a MAJOR disservice to thousands of people serving in our armed forces. You say this is not a “matter of siding with high-ranking  generals over victims,” but YES, Senator Levin, that is exactly what you have done! This issue will not go away. It will come up again in the future, and in the meantime, how many of our service people will suffer without justice because of your extremely poor decision? Try again, Senator Levin. Try harder. We need a leader here, not another little boy in the boys’ club. 

      Jennifer Lewter

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