There are reasons to like Colin Powell. I just can’t remember what any of those reasons are right now.
In a remarkable feat of tone-deafness, Colin Powell said last week troops convicted of sexual assault should not be automatically dishonorably discharged from the military.
“You can’t make a categorical statement like that,” he told Bloomberg TV. “We have a military justice system that is driven by our law, and it is not that dissimilar to the civilian system.”
Oh is that right, former Secretary of Defense? Is that really so? So the 30% increase in anonymous sexual assault reporting in three years is totally acceptable to you? And I guess the fact that sexual assault prevention officers are being charged with sexual assault is also not a problem?
Despite the staggering increase of sexual assault in recent years, Powell thinks the military justice system is doing A-OK!
“There will always be a case where somebody disagrees with a judgment made by somebody in the appellate procedure,” he explained. “Well, lets examine that, but lets not toss out a system that I think has worked very, very well over the years. I have been in that position as a commander. I have been the appellate authority. I have decided who should get tried and who should not get tried, and I can tell you that in my experience as a commander, we take it very, very seriously.”
I’m not in the military. I don’t come from that culture. But it’s incredibly disturbing to me that commanding officers can and do overturn convictions. But I’m sure it’s working out just fine for everybody.
This is another example of why it’s important to have many different people in positions of authority. It seems like Powell can easily imagine himself in a commanding officer’s position, but perhaps not the position of the person being sexually assaulted. (Although men are by no means exempt from being shamed from their own sexual assault.) I honestly don’t think it’s malicious, just incredibly insensitive to the needs of sexual assault victims.
Rape and sexual assault are crimes and should be tried as such. The military justice system has proven incapable of dealing with it. It would be nice if one of the most respected military men this country has to offer could recognize that.
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