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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 23, 2013 at 7:32 AM

Sexual assault in the military

Task force is unnecessary

Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, is right to address the plague of sexual assault occurring within the military, but wrong in her suggested remedies [“End the culture of silence about sexual assaults in the military,” Opinion, May 17].

Only an elected official in today’s all-bark, no-bite political culture, would propose “a task force to examine all laws and military statutes that define the scope of ‘civilian control of the military’.”

The president, as commander in chief, and his civilian appointees in the Department of Defense, have full operational control of the military — of the removal and appointment of officers and the issuance of executive orders that direct and regulate conduct.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice — the laws which govern service members’ conduct — was written and is amended by the U.S. Congress.

In fact, Tarleton’s concern that “civilians must have power to hold the military accountable,” is entirely unfounded, because they absolutely do. Military leaders did not choose to integrate their ranks, allow homosexuals to serve openly or expand combat roles for women, civilian leaders ordered them to do so.

What, then, is the real problem? A lack of leadership, with a capital L. Our civilian and military leaders have both failed to fully exercise their power to eradicate the crime of sexual assault.

Succeeding will require tough decisions: relieving top commanders, increasing the minimum punishment and making examples of offenders regardless of rank or billet. Surely, we do not need a group of experts to tell us these truths.

Ben Nelson, Bellingham

Take action against perpetrators

The crying shame is the fact that the two highest institutions in the United States, the military and the Catholic Church, perpetuate rape and the abuse of women and children.

As a victim of priest child abuse, my stomach does a flip-flop when I read about the crimes against women in the military and children in the Catholic Church that are covered up.

Where is power when we need it? The pope, the president, the secretary of defense — where are you? Stand up; speak out; use your power in ways that matter; say “no more violence and no more rapes of women and children.” Then, put some power behind your words. Defrock the perpetrators now.

Mary Dispenza, Bellevue

Comments | Topics: military, sexual assault

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