FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2016
AFTER THE SENATE REFUSED TO DEBATE MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT REFORM, PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS CALLS ON PRESIDENT OBAMA TO STAND WITH ASSAULT VICTIMS
Advocacy organization asks President Obama to make good on his word to have victims’ backs after the Senate fails to vote on the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act, which would create an impartial justice system for service members
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congress failed service members who have risked their lives to defend this nation. The Senate refused not only to hold a vote on the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), which would create an independent and impartial justice system for our service members. They refused even to hold a public debate on the issue. Even after it was revealed that the Pentagon intentionally misled Congress on its handling of sexual assault cases, the Senate failed to vote on bipartisan legislation supported by a majority of the American public, which was twice backed by a majority of the Senate. More than 150,000 people have called on President Obama to reform the broken military justice system and investigate the Pentagon for misleading Congress.
Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United State Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:
“Mr. President, it is time for you, our Commander-in-Chief, to step up and lead. We know your administration cares about this issue. You have told our troops that you have their backs. However, during your presidency, the military sexual assault crisis has continued, and minimal reforms have not worked. The crisis continues unabated. Retaliation against victims is hauntingly cruel, done with intent, and remains at record highs. The buck stops with you. You can fix the system. This issue could make or break your legacy regarding one of your most solemn duties – protecting the men and women who protect us.
“The fight goes on.”
A recent Associated Press investigation and Protect Our Defenders report exposed the Pentagon’s intentional misleading of Congress to stop reform by falsely claiming that military commanders are tougher on crime than prosecutors. In response, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) called on President Obama to open an independent investigation.
Rather than respond to the specific allegations regarding the Pentagon misleading Congress, a recent letter from the Secretary of Defense, written on behalf of the President, and a Pentagon white paper attempt to discount the evidence that the Pentagon’s testimony was false by challenging Col. Christensen’s knowledge of “how the military justice system works” and “how prosecutions are conducted under [the Uniform Code of Military Justice].” Col. Christensen is the former Chief Prosecutor of the United States Air Force and served as trial counsel, defense counsel or military judge for every year of his 23-year military career.