Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) responds to Secretary Hagel’s comments on CBS’s Face the Nation regarding commander responsibility.
The New York Democrat has faced off with top Pentagon officials and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in her quest to put military lawyers, not commanders, in charge of making the decision about whether to prosecute a sexual assault. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., had led the charge on a competing effort to keep the decision to prosecute within the chain of command, but take away the ability of commanders to overturn a conviction. That and other reforms were implemented in the 2014 defense authorization that passed in December, but McCaskill is offering an a less controversial alternative to Gillibrand’s amendment that strengthens some of the reforms already passed, eliminates the “good soldier” defense for those accused, and allows victims a formal say in whether their case is tried in civilian or military court, among other things. The two proposals are set to receive side-by-side votes within the next two weeks.