With the announcement of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s 2020 Presidential bid, the field of candidates for the Democratic Party continues to expand in all directions. Senator Gillibrand, who served shortly from 2006 to 2008 in her state’s 20th Congressional district before ascending to the New York Senate seat left vacant by Hillary Clinton’s selection for Secretary of State in the Obama administration, will undoubtedly have her hands full against a star-studded cast vying for the chance to engage in mortal combat with President Trump in 2020.
Winning election in 2006 in traditionally center-Right upstate New York, Senator Gillibrand entered the political stage conforming to her constituents. As reported by TAC in 2009, her campaign came out against amnesty and illegal immigration, sounded off for fiscal restraint and responsibility, and even held the line on gun rights. Today, however, the same cannot be said of her initial political persuasions. Her race to wokeness has been nothing short of alarming, or depending on who you ask, inspiring. Consider a Tweet from December 4th that generated significant buzz, the Senator declaring “The future is: Female, Intersectional, Powered by our belief in one another. And we are just getting started.”
While diving into her past political contradictions is a worthy project, one position she has held resolutely over the last decade has been with respect to sexual assault and the #MeToo movement. Beginning around summer 2017, the #MeToo movement rose quickly into the national spotlight, snaring high level figures in Hollywood like Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein, politicians like Al Franken, and even funnymen like Louis C.K. But unbeknownst to the average civilian, the #MeToo movement has been festering in the military for quite a few years, with military men of all ranks fighting like lions to save their names and careers, and Senator Gillibrand has been leading the charge since her first days as a Senator.
Her work began as a member of the Senate Armed Services committee, introducing the Military Justice improvement Act (S1752) in 2013 and then, after it failed to gain traction, again in 2014. What was the gist of these bills? After sorting through the mountains of data her office rolls out, and arcane language the military is now intimately familiar with like restricted and unrestricted reporting and retaliation, the Senator’s main point of contention was this: adjudication authority. From her 2014 Bases Report, the “military system allows a commander, who could be in the direct chain of command of the accused and have minimal legal or criminal behavior expertise, to decide whether or not to prosecute.” And from her bill, the “reform moves the decision over whether to prosecute serious crimes to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors.”
What is the logic behind these bills and is it a sound, accurate depiction of how the military justice system operates? As Senator Gillibrand notes, there is a large disconnect between accusations of sexual misconduct and one, those that go to a trial for prosecution, and two, convictions for those cases which have their day in court. For example, in the 2014 Bases Report, which analyzed 329 cases across four major military installations, “just 22% of the 329 cases went to trial. Of those, only about 10% of these 329 sexual assault suspects were convicted of a sexual assault crime.” Note the language of the report. Just 22%, only 10%. It’s almost as if the report is insinuating that to be accused of sexual misconduct implies guilt of sexual misconduct. Sound familiar?
And digging further into the 2012 Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) report, there were a total of 26,000 estimated cases of Unwanted Sexual Contact (USC) across the Pentagon. This estimation was calculated by analyzing the results of the 2012 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members (WGRA). USC can range from inappropriate touching all the way up to and including rape. Gillibrand’s Senate page highlights that this represents around 6% of the female force and 1.2% of the male force. Not wanting to blaspheme the #MeToo gospel mystery that only women are victims and only men are guilty, Gillibrand omitted what the Washington Times noted concerning the 2012 SAPRO report. With an active duty male force of 1.2 million men and 200,000 women, these stats translate to 14,000 men and 12,000 women being victims of USC. Also in the 2012 report, which consists of hundreds of pages of slides and pie charts, only 3,374 total reports were filed, 302 went to trial, and of those 238 were convicted of a crime. So Senator Gillibrand’s reasoning is if there are so many allegations but few reports and almost no convictions, surely something must be wrong with the military justice system, which must be altered. The goal is results, convictions, to hell with due process.
Gillibrand is correct that military judges are not the ones making the adjudication decision, a yea or nay, it rests with military commanders, whose occupational training focuses on something outside of law like infantry, logistics, or aviation. She claims that only military judges should decide, not those untrained in legal matters. In the Marines when a command is gathering information and evidence for a sexual misconduct case, the O-6 or Colonel level commander decides whether to adjudicate a case. The decision is made with the advice and counsel of Marine lawyers known as Judge Advocate Generals, or JAGs, who also review and examine the preliminary findings. Gillibrand is under the delusion that a Marine pilot or infantry officer, ignorant of criminal law, is single handedly reviewing and deciding the fate of thousands of sexual assault cases. This would indeed be troubling, but her summary of the issue is a gross misrepresentation of the truth. These commanders draw on the advice and recommendation of military lawyers who have reviewed the cases, and then they decide. Why is there such a disconnect between accusations and adjudication and conviction then? Well, as in any criminal case, evidence is required. Without witnesses, corroboration, a he-said-she-said case cannot expect to survive in court. As noted above, of the 302 cases in 2012 that did receive a trial, 238 were convicted of a crime, indicating that a strong majority of cases referred for prosecution were legally sound.
Of all the blessings of English law bestowed upon our country by our Founding Fathers, surely one of the most sacred and underappreciated is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If you are accused of a crime–any crime–your character, your employment, your personal life, and your good name should be left completely intact until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And well before the national soap opera of Kavanaugh v. Ford, countless other military men were starring in similar movies to defend their names. Men like Major Mark Thompson, an instructor at the Naval Academy, who in 2013 was found not guilty of sexual assault, guilty of five lesser offenses such as conduct unbecoming an officer and fraternization, only to have all the charges dropped at a subsequent military board of inquiry that was initially setup to discharge him from the service entirely. Or consider the case of Trent Cromartie, a West Point cadet who was charged with sexual assault of a fellow cadet, found not guilty, but then expelled anyway, his military career evaporating before his eyes. What about these men’s lives? Does anyone care for their situation?
Senator Gillibrand never misses the chance to voice her outrage at this “crisis”, and more recently she publicly flayed the Commandant of the Marine Corps over a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service. All allegations of USC should be taken seriously, because it is a serious matter. But should she and her fellow justice warriors really be surprised that allegations of USC are higher in the military compared to the civilian world? After all, in her book Off the Sidelines, she reminisces about her time in an all-girls high school, “as for boys, I was distracted enough just thinking about them.” Do readers really need reminded of the differences between the male and female sexes when it comes to hormones? The military recruits young, usually single, aggressive men to fight and win the country’s wars. If you think you can mix those men among a similar age group of women and expect saintly conduct you are naïve, especially when recruits are drawn from a culture that encourages sexual liberation. Or as General Mattis said in 2015, “when you mix arrows, and you mix affection for one another that could be manifested sexually, I don’t care where you go (in) history, you will not find where this has worked”. But then again, progressives usually aren’t fans of history, the hypothetical future is where they always look for answers.
The military has been watching the #MeToo movie for several years but with the crucifixion of Brett Kavanaugh, an inflection point has been reached. And now the boomerang is coming back. As Senator Gillibrand said during the Kavanaugh hearings in reference to Christine Blasely Ford, “I believe her.” That’s all well and good, one can believe in God, but belief isn’t evidence, and belief isn’t proof. And in English law, thank God, evidence and proof are required. The Presidential candidacy of Senator Gillibrand will be a public trial for the #MeToo movement, and hopefully the populace will bring the gavel down forcefully against this movement for the good names it has so shamelessly attacked and defamed in its race for “justice”.
Read Jeff Groom’s satirical memoir about his time in the Marine Corps: American Cobra Pilot: A Marine Remembers a Dog and Pony Show.