Powell: Soldiers Shouldn’t be Dishonorably Discharged After a Sexual Assault

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.


Image credit: Flickr


Katie K.
Katie K4 years ago

Paul M. I concur that it would be deplorable to wish this assault on anyone but being someone that's been there it's just a bit harder to swallow giving anyone a walk on this most offensive of crimes and maybe a taste of there own medicine would get their minds right.

Paul M.
Paul M4 years ago

Well said JACarlton A ... "rape IS a theft of autonomy from one person over another. It is the most dishonorable crime a person can commit against another. It deserves a dishonorable discharge."

Thank you Jeffery M. for a well thought out and clear message.

Paul M.
Paul M4 years ago

Katie K. I wouldn't wish rape on anyone ... But thank you for bringing men into the conversation as they can also be victims of rape. It should be a common thread of matters like this, rape, domestic violence, etc, that the victims are just victims, whomever they are.

It is time we used more inclusive terms ... I've just been to "Victory! Facebook Agrees to Combat Hate Speech Against Women" http://www.care2.com/causes/victory-facebook-agrees-to-combat-hate-speech-against-women.html#ixzz2hx2Onyay

I would prefer to live in a world that had the headline ... ""Victory! Facebook Agrees to Combat Hate Speech"

There is no excuse for assault of any kind, in or out of the military. It is easier to understand that it happens in groups that are still obsessed with power, such as soldiering, and teem sports, where young men are thrown together. We need good examples to stand up and show the right road before perpetration occurs.

Have a look at "Australia's Army Chief Orders Sexists to 'Get Out' in Stirring PSA" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSR19QL8ZvI

Sheila D.
S Ann D4 years ago

To Studying C -

The ideal of our soldiers becoming officers and gentlemen is still much in evidence. The problem with that ideal is that the officers in many cases are not, and never have been, gentlemen. Many of these rapes and assaults are being done by the officers and the soldiers under them have that as very poor examples of what an officer should be.

Now that Colin Powell is out of the service he has reverted to what a good little GOP follower should be. His motto is: "What is done in the military, stays in the military". In other words, punish the abused and raped, reward and promote the abuser and rapist.

Lisa Zilli
Lisa Zilli4 years ago

That's what dishonorable discharge is for, to get people who commit crimes out of the military. And, rape is a crime, they should be discharged and sent to prison with the other rapists.

Sylvia M.
Sylvia M4 years ago

A definition of a soldier is HONOR, love of and duty to country, etc. etc. etc. An American soldier who rapes,or attempts, sexually assaults, or attempts, or works to keep it quiet does NOT meet the standard of what an honorable soldier is.

WTH do they teach new officers and enlistees? It's simple! It's what your parents teach you- you don't TOUCH someone who doesn't want it, you report it if it happens to you or you witness it. You respect your fellow soldier, on and off base or battlefield. Why is it so complicated? It's NOT. The Kindergardener's Guide to Military Character.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se4 years ago


Ryan Yehling
Ryan Yehling4 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola4 years ago

Thank you for posting.

Aurolyn L.
Aurolyn L.4 years ago

Currently it's estimated that 1/3 of military women are sexually assault by their fellow soldiers. Retaliation against victims who speak out has been documented ad nauseum. This is the system Powell thinks "has worked very, very well"? Someone tie this man to a chair and make him watch "The Invisible War."