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One Step Closer to a More Just and Effective Military

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The House Armed Services Committee took a huge step yesterday towards combating the epidemic of sexual assaults in the military.

In fact, an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014 that passed HASC en bloc during the markup, which went all day and into the night, will not only protect disclosures of sexual assault, but also will expand protections to those in the military who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, abuse, and other wrongdoing. This bipartisan amendment, offered by Representatives Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), aims to curb the culture of intimidation and silence in the military. Both the Speier-Coffman amendment and the Senate bill it mirrors include accountability measures that will give teeth to current whistleblower protections. The legislation offers corrective relief to those who face retribution, as well as discipline for those who seek to silence whistleblowers and victims of sexual assault.

The Project On Government Oversight was proud to lend its support—along with partners from across the ideological spectrum—to this amendment and is thrilled to see it in the Committee-approved bill that will be voted on by the full House next week. Some concessions were made to opponents in order to allow the amendment’s consideration, and we will continue to fight for those reforms lost in yesterday’s markup when the Senate considers the NDAA, and when the bills are conferenced.

Another provision in the NDAA strips military commanders of the power to overturn rape and sexual assault convictions and requires that anyone found guilty of those crimes be discharged or dismissed from military service. These new rules fight a system where military members who report sexual assault often face retaliation for coming forward and the perpetrators are protected.

It is about time that Congress took action to change the unaccountable culture that allows sexual assault and other wrongdoing to flourish in the military. To learn more, check out this blog post about the broken Military Whistleblower Protection Act and the harrowing documentary on sexual assault in the military, The Invisible War.

By: Christine Anderson
Public Policy Fellow, POGO

Christine Anderson At the time of publication Christine Anderson was a public policy fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Whistleblower Protections

Related Content: Congressional Oversight, Defense

Authors: Christine Anderson

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