Senate sexual assault hearing “forgets” to invite victims of sexual assault

In a brazen slap in the face to women in the military, the Senate Armed Services Committee – run by Democrats, mind you – invited 18 opponents of legislation addressing sexual assault to testify at a hearing today, while inviting only 2 witnesses who support the sexual assault legislation, and no sexual assault victims at all to testify.

It was the Senate’s own Sandra Fluke moment.


UPDATE: A powerful state from Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on sexual assault in the military.  Gillibrand lectured the military command on the fact that “not every commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape.”


There has been increasing news of late of a culture of sexual lawlessness in the US military of late, particularly as it pertains to sexual assaults on female service members. As National Journal notes, ” the prevalence of sexual assaults in the military has steadily expanded over the past 20 years from an average of one a day to 70.”

Various legislation is being proposed to address the matter, and the military is opposed to most of the proposals as they take power away from military commanders.

So what did the Senators do? They stacked the deck against reform.


You have to understand how the Senate works in order to appreciate just how nasty this really is. I worked in the Senate for five years. Typically, the majority party gets to pick the overwhelming majority of hearing witnesses, and then gives the minority party maybe 1 or 2 witnesses of their own.

In this case, Democrats are the majority, Republicans the minority in the Senate. So typically, the Republicans only get to choose maybe 2 of the 20 witnesses, Democrats chose the rest. And 18 of the 20 witnesses are military brass opposed to significant reform? While only two of the witnesses are in favor of significant reform, and those two just happen to be civilians.  (And keep in mind, that even if the Armed Services Committee were unusual, and gave the Republicans half the witnesses, that would still give the Democrats 10 witnesses of the 20.  Yet still only 2 witnesses are pro reform.)

And none of the witnesses are victims of sexual assault.

Normally they invite 4 witnesses, this time it’s 20, and all but 2 opposed to serious reform

Just as importantly, 20 witnesses at a hearing is an insanely high number.  This hearing was intentionally over-stacked against sexual assault reform.  Look at the most recent hearings the Armed Services Committee has had, and how many witnesses were at each hearing – the average is 4.  Not 20, but 4.

# of witnesses at most recent Senate Armed Services hearings:

The average number of witnesses is 4 per hearing.

But when the topic is addressing the sexual assault of female service members, suddenly the Armed Services Committee veers off course and has a whopping 20 witnesses, 18 of whom are OPPOSED to seriously addressing sexual assault.


Sandra Fluke

The Democrats run this committee via Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI).  The responsibility for this hearing, and its blatant opposition to real reform, falls at the feet of Senator Carl Levin and no one else.  I’ve helped put Senate hearings together and the majority party runs the show.  This would have never happened had Carl Levin and Senate Democrats put their feet down.  And down they did, on the throats of women.

Here’s the carnage of a witness list the Democrats and the Republicans on the Committee put together:

General Martin E. Dempsey, USA
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General Raymond T. Odierno, USA
Chief of Staff of the Army
Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, USN
Chief of Naval Operations
General James F. Amos, USMC
Commandant of the Marine Corps
General Mark A. Welsh III, USAF
Chief of Staff of the Air Force
Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., USCG
Commandant of the Coast Guard
Lieutenant General Dana K. Chipman, JAGC, USA
Judge Advocate General of the United States Army
Vice Admiral Nanette M. DeRenzi, JAGC, USN
Judge Advocate General of the United States Navy
Lieutenant General Richard C. Harding, JAGC, USAF
Judge Advocate General of the United States Air Force
Major General Vaughn A. Ary, USMC
Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps
Rear Admiral Frederick J. Kenney, Jr., USCG
Judge Advocate General of the United States Coast Guard
Brigadier General Richard C. Gross, USA
Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Colonel Donna W. Martin, USA
Commander, 202nd Military Police Group
Captain Stephen J. Coughlin, USN
Commodore, Destroyer Squadron TWO
Colonel Tracy W. King, USMC
Commander, Combat Logistics Regiment 15
Colonel Jeannie M. Leavitt, USAF
Commander, 4th Fighter Wing

Nancy Parrish
President, Protect Our Defenders
Anu Bhagwati
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Service Women?s Action Network
Major General John D. Altenburg, Jr., USA (Ret.)
Chairman, American Bar Association Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law
Colonel Lawrence J. Morris, USA (Ret.)
General Counsel, Catholic University

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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