Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand blasted President Barack Obama and Pentagon brass on Thursday for failing to show leadership in the fight against military sex crimes, saying there’s been a “100 percent failure” in protecting victims from retaliation after they’ve reported an assault.
In a wide-ranging interview with POLITICO, the New York Democrat said the president has been missing in action on the sexual assault issue, and hasn’t lived up to his promise from December 2013 to force an overhaul of the Defense Department’s judicial system if it didn’t make progress within a year.
“He’s not providing leadership that he said he would,” Gillibrand said. “He said, and so did [Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman] Gen. [Martin] Dempsey, that they’re on the clock, they had a year to solve this problem, to fix this problem, to take responsibility for this problem, and they haven’t.”
White House officials say they have been reviewing for months the Pentagon’s progress in implementing dozens of new sexual assault reforms. Impatient with the wait, Gillibrand next week is planning to force a Senate floor vote on her own controversial amendment to remove sexual assault prosecutions from the military’s chain of command. Instead of letting senior officers supervise cases within their own ranks, she wants to set up an independent military prosecution system to make those tough calls.