FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS RENEWS CALL FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA TO OPEN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION AFTER PENTAGON CONTINUES TO MISLEAD CONGRESS ON SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES
More than 130,000 people call on President Obama to investigate the Pentagon for misleading Congress and the public about the military’s handling of sexual assault cases
Washington, D.C. – A recent Associated Press investigation and Protect Our Defenders report exposed that the Pentagon misled Congress to block much needed reforms by claiming that military commanders are tougher on crime than prosecutors. In a letter sent to Congress last week from Defense Secretary Ash Carter the Pentagon continued to mislead Congress about Admiral Winnefeld’s testimony to Congress. Today, Protect Our Defenders and 130,000 people joined with Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen. Grassley (R-IA) in calling on President Obama to open an independent investigation.
Secretary Carter claims in his letter that the Pentagon was unable to determine the Air Force files on which the original false testimony from Adm. Winnefeld’s was based. Sen. Gillibrand exposed this latest claim also as untrue, “The ‘missing’ Air Force files were previously shared with lawmakers, and copies remain maintained in Senator Gillibrand’s office. According to Gillibrand, these Air Force files – which DoD has asked Gillibrand not to share publicly – directly rebuke the DoD’s original claims.”
Col. Don Christensen (ret.), President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:
“The Pentagon is more invested in covering up the facts than fixing the problem. We are astonished that Secretary Ash Carter would stand behind such a disingenuous response on behalf of President Obama. The Commander-in-Chief should open a formal independent investigation. Every Senator should be outraged and revisit their votes to create an impartial justice system for our troops.
“The Pentagon’s response does not answer this simple question: was it true that local DA’s ‘refused’ to prosecute each of the ‘military sexual assault’ cases Adm. Winnefeld cited and did commanders really ‘insist’ that each of these cases go to trial?
“The Pentagon avoided responding directly to the charges set forth in Senators Grassley and Gillibrand’s letter from April 19th and instead threw up a smoke screen and continued to obfuscate with a poorly reasoned, poorly researched response.”
Furthermore, Adm. Winnefeld’s testimony implied that the cases provided to Congress to oppose justice reform were all cases where the military prosecuted sexual assault crimes. In reality, many of the case summaries did not include an allegation of sexual assault. In other cases the accused was never charged with a sexual assault offense or had all sexual assault charges dismissed at trial.
In its response to Senators Gillibrand and Grassley, the Pentagon stated it treats any case involving a sexual assault allegation as a sexual assault case, regardless of the actual charges brought. The Pentagon cannot claim credit for prosecuting an individual for sexual assault if in fact that person was never prosecuted for sexual assault.
Read Protect Our Defenders’ full response to Sec. Carter’s letter and the Pentagon White Paper here.
Protect Our Defenders Response to the Pentagon’s Continued Attempts to Mislead Congress
[VIDEO] Senators Address Sexual Assault in Military
Washington Post: The Pentagon deliberately misled Congress on sex assault cases. Do lawmakers care?
ABC News: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Slams Obama Over Inaction on Military Sexual Assault
VICE News: US Lawmakers Suspect the Pentagon of Lying to Them About Military Sexual Assault Cases
Associated Press: Pentagon misled lawmakers on military sexual assault cases
Debunked: Fact-Checking the Pentagon’s Claims Regarding Military Justice
VIDEO: The Pentagon’s Misleading Claims on Military Justice
New York Magazine: AP Report Says the Pentagon Misled Congress on Sexual-Assault Cases Within the Military