Apparently to be considered an "expert" on the rape culture in our military by ABC's Martha Raddatz, you have to be someone with former military experience, like our good buddy Sen. John McCrashy, or so it seems after watching her interview with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on This Week.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is taking aim at the rape culture and that means taking aim at the status quo. What better way to do that than by reminding her colleagues that it is actually their job to oversee the Department of Defense instead of enabling rape by playing the Phony Patriot Deference Game. Naturally, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) dismissed her because she doesn’t have experience commanding the military.
While defending her legislative proposal from detractors like McCain, Senator Gillibrand declared on “This Week” that it’s actually their job as Senators and Congressional members to oversee the Department of Defense.
This is their job even if they are not experts who once commanded the military, which is not a qualification for being a Senator. [...]
Of course Gillibrand pointing out that it’s their job to oversee the DOD won’t go over well with the patriarchal status quo, and that is precisely one reason why the rape culture is so out of control in the military. No oversight for them because they are SPECIAL and only other people in command understand how special they are. Read on...
Martha Raddatz has her moments where she's not as bad as a lot of the other hosts on the Sunday talk shows. This past weekend's show was not one of them. Transcript of their exchange below the fold.
RADDATZ: OK, senator, I want to turn to another issue that you have been very involved in and that is changing the way that the military investigates sexual assault. It's a debate that pitted you against members of your own party, against the military brass. And the debate is heading to the senate floor. Let's talk about that in just a moment.
But first, here's ABC's Jeff Zeleny.
JEFF ZELENY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Ariana Klay, marine officer, Iraq war veteran and victim of sexual assault.
ARIANNA KLAY, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: When I reported the assault, my commander responded with retaliation. The humiliation of the retaliation was worse than the assault, because it was sanctioned from the same leaders I once would have risked my life for.
ZELENY: The shocking number of these cases has placed it center stage on Capitol Hill. America's all-male top brass, confronted by two Democratic senators, both women, but with different proposals to reform the military justice system.
On one side Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, pushing to take sexual assault cases outside the chain of command, stripping commanders of their prosecuting role.
GILLIBRAND: Too often, these brave men and women are in the fight of their life. And it is not on some far off foreign soil, it's right within their own ranks.
ZELENY: On the other side Senator Claire McCaskill, seeking historic changes, but adamant commanders stay involved.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI: I believe these reforms will hold the chain of command more accountable and force them to be part of the solution.
ZELENY: And the Pentagon favors the McCaskill plan. It's an uphill battle for Gillibrand, still short of the 60 votes she needs.
For this week, Jeff Zeleny, ABC News, Capitol Hill.
RADDATZ: Back now with Senator Gillibrand.
You heard in Jeff Zeleny's report -- and you know this, you're shy of those 60 votes.
GILLIBRAND: I think we'll get them, Martha. This is a growing debate all around this country because we want to make sure that the men and women who serve our military have a justice system deserving of their sacrifices. They are literally giving their lives for our values, for our country and they shouldn't have a justice system that is rife with bias and unfairness. They need justice. And that's what we're trying to do.
RADDATZ: One of the things you told your hometown paper, I think it with us in today's paper, was that you would consider taking parts of the legislation out for other serious crimes, murder and theft, are you going to do that or are you going to stick to the original plan?
GILLIBRAND: No, we're going to stick to the original plan because it's a better bill. At the end of the day...
RADDATZ: You also would have lost a lot of support, correct, from advocacy groups?
GILLIBRAND: Well, it's been an interesting process, because what we learned is, having the bright line of elevating all serious crimes out of the chain of command, makes sure both victims' rights are protected and defendants' rights for civil liberties reasons, that you need fairness and justice.
Because what we've got, Martha, 26,000 cases of sexual assault and rape last year alone.
RADDATZ: But let me go to -- you yourself said those 26,000, you don't know whether they're the difference between patting someone on the bottom or rape. So if you have those kind of statistics, and they're even worse this year, but you don't really know what the data is, how can you make recommendations?
GILLIBRAND: We do know the data. This is from the Department of Defense. This is their estimate, not my estimate, their estimate.
RADDATZ: But they don't know as you yourself have said.
GILLIBRAND: Agreed. But Martha, what we do know, the 3,000 cases that were reported, 70 percent were violent, violent rapes and sexual assaults. And even more disturbing, of those 3,000 cases that were reported 62 percent of the victims were retaliated against.
So, what we have is a system where the command climate is so broken that if you are raped, you are likely going to be retaliated against for reporting that rape.
RADDATZ: I want you listen to some of the opposition here, and there is a lot of it, including from some very decorated veterans. Listen to what Senator John McCain said this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I'm the only member of the United States Senate who was actually in command, okay? And I respect Senator Gillibrand's views and her advocacy, but I do not believe that she has background or experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Do you have the background or experience?
GILLIBRAND: I do. And I respect and admire and am good friends with Senator McCain. But our job as senators and members of congress is the vital constitutional responsibility of providing oversight and accountability over the department of defense. It's actually our job. And I am the personnel subcommittee chairman. This is my job.
And, third, this is an epidemic that has grown to such proportions. And the military has said for 25 years, since Dick Cheney was the secretary of defense, that there is zero tolerance for sexual assault in the military. And last year alone, we had 3,000 reported cases of sexual assault.
RADDATZ: We've had so much attention -- you've helped with that attention in the last couple of months. I want to go to this, because the president of the United States has put a lot of attention on this, does he support what you're trying to do? Does he support your amendment?
GILLIBRAND: I'm so hopeful that he will. Because this is an opportunity for him to show extraordinary leadership on this issue. Because there's a growing chorus of generals, of veterans -- the Vietnam Veterans Association, Iraq veterans, Afghanistan veterans, all support this case. And there's a panel, a DOD commission that actually advises on the status of women, handpicked by the DOD, and they have just come out to support every aspect of this legislation. 10 votes in favor. Those 10 votes, 9 out of 10 are all former military and four are generals.
RADDATZ: Still a long line of generals who do not support it.
GILLIBRAND: Those are the chain in command generals who may not speak publicly. But we have former generals, highest ranking female ever in the army supports it, three-star general.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much for joining us, Senator Gillibrand.