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

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | 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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27 Responses to “Senate sexual assault hearing “forgets” to invite victims of sexual assault”

  1. caphillprof says:

    spontaneous, not planned It’s the lack of spontaneous reaction that is dooming us.

  2. Simhamuka says:

    Good lord, why would they do this? And why have the hearing at all if it’s just for show? I just lost a lot of respect for Senator Carl Levin. This is outrageous.

  3. politicalcynic says:

    This article is DISGUSTING. Not because “they forgot to invite victims” but because it completely IGNORES the fact that according to the Secretary of Defense in absolute numbers more MEN were victims than women. The Pentagon’s own survey showed 12,000 female victims and 14,000 male victims. Yet this author goes right down the road to “a slap in the face to women” and to the “increase in assaults on women” and IGNORES the fact that MEN are being victimized in larger numbers. There is not ONE mention of the number of MEN who are being victimized. How DARE you prattle on self-righteously about this issue while ignoring OVER 50 percent of the actual victims. How DARE you portray this as a “women’s issue” when there are more male victims. How DARE you toe the feminist line of “women only” when it comes to rape victims.

    Rape culture? Don’t talk to ME about “rape culture”. I am male. I was raped. And I was ignored, and am MORE ignored than ANY female victim. Services? Don’t make me laugh-a male victim is either ignored, or the “all female” crisis center worries that “he is male, he may be violent”. or tells him that they “don’t help rapists”. Rape culture? Yeah-frankly I feel raped every time I see a piece like this that callously disregards male victims, marginalizing them and acting as if “they don’t count”. Rape culture? Yeah-when I have to constantly hear all about how “all men are potential rapists” and “hate speech against women” while male victims are disregarded and do not count. Rape culture-yeah, I know about it-I experience it every time I hear a Radfem or see a piece written by someone like you who pretends that MEN who are victims are “part of rape culture” and are therefore, as men, somehow RESPONSIBLE for what happened to them-a victim blaming game that NO ONE would tolerate were I female. Yeah-I believe in Rape Culture-I believe we are in a culture that approves and condones the rape of men-and this is one more narrow, bigoted, ignorant, one-sided piece that PROVES IT.

    EVERY SINGLE PERSON like you who is now playing the “poor women abused in the military card” while INTENTIONALLY disregarding the male victims is a supporter of a culture that condones the rape of men. Period.

    And you can all get stuffed.

  4. pappyvet says:

    I stopped being suprized long ago

  5. Zachary Smith says:

    Good post. The big brass have allowed the situation to get totally out of control. “Rotten” is an understatement.

  6. arcadesproject says:

    This panel had as many rape opponents as Simpson-Bowles had Social Security supporters.
    Are the Democrats trying to tell us something?

  7. dula says:

    In some sociopathic nations, warriors get to have 72 virgins in the afterlife. In others they get to rape unlimited women in the here and now.

  8. BeccaM says:

    Something else I noticed. While I do have to give Levin a little credit for including a few women in those panels, there’s not a single woman above the rank of Lieutenant General / Vice Admiral (considered equivalent) and only one at that rank. The other two are Colonels, plus the two female civilians (the only ones opposing the current do-nothing strategy).

    All of the top brass are men.

    So, out of 20 speakers, only 25% are women, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of rape victims are female. And none of the speakers is a rape victim.

  9. Whitewitch says:

    Nah…I didn’t forget – I just try not to think about that one.

  10. lynchie says:

    You forgot clean the shit stains out of hubbies underwear.

  11. lynchie says:

    The world has largely stopped thinking about the U.S. Our constant state of war and pillaging of resources in the name of capitalism has seen to that.

  12. lynchie says:

    One should never forget the resistance to having women in the military and then in combat roles. This screams of male chauvinism. It is one thing to put yourself in harm’s way but another matter entirely to be raped and assaulted by the very people you are going to battle with. Then if you complain the old boy network takes care of the complaint by dismissing the person assaulted. Makes me wonder why any women wants to fight for this band of miscreants.

  13. Indigo says:

    Speaking as a gay man, it’s a puzzle to me how allegedly heterosexual men in the military bother to pretend a great contempt for gays along with a total dedication to women but show their love of women by raping them. It’s beyond cave man hypocrisy, it’s a sick contempt for women. Regardless, that’s our honorable military? Defending our way of life? I think not!

  14. nicho says:

    Sorry, but no. Street protest in the US has been rendered all but meaningless. Because of the way our country is laid out — massive suburban sprawl — getting mass protests organized is difficult, and the lead time on planning gives the corporatocracy time to find ways to neutralize it or prevent it. We saw that with the planned protests against the GOP convention. People who were planning to protest had their doors kicked in in advance of the protests. We saw marches in DC and NYC where street barriers effectively divided the marchers into smaller and smaller groups that were easily ignored. Even when masses of protestors manage to fill the streets, the corporatist media manages to report on it as “hundreds of people” marching — and the electronic media manage to focus on the handful of protestors who can be written off as “anarchists.”

    Mass protests worked in the ’60s and ’70s, but that was a novelty and the media hadn’t been quite corrupted. The corporatocracy learned its lesson from that and it won’t happen again.

  15. Naja pallida says:

    On this date in 1919, the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Institutionalized oppression at the highest levels of government is how far we’ve come.

  16. Monoceros Forth says:

    If every single woman in the U.S. marched in the streets it would make no difference.

  17. samizdat says:

    Which is probably why the brass are against any reform of UCMJ, and are especially loathe to turn over prosecution to civilian jurisdiction. They are all cut from the same morally corrupt cloth. Honor in the military? Nice MarketingPRopaganda, but it obviously does not reflect the reality amongst the ranks.

  18. Whitewitch says:

    No, sadly, it would not. You see women are invisible and as recent data reflects we are too busy holding down a better paying job, taking care of children, getting dinner on the table and generally being too beat down for doing all of the above to play in these Reindeer Games (fake caring on the part of men).

  19. nicho says:

    It just occurred to me that this is an exact parallel to the “gays in the military” hearings back in ’93, when the polished-brass bumkissers from the Pentagon had their chauffers drive them to the Capitol where they lied their pathetic asses off.

  20. BeccaM says:

    Obviously the outcome of all this is moot, given the blatant and massive degree of deck-stacking here.

  21. citizen_spot says:

    The media will probably tout this as a fine example of bipartisanship in the committee.

    Hurray for bipartisan misogyny! Not.

  22. cole3244 says:

    the dems have again shown their true colors and just like the right the faux left need to be removed from office as soon as possible.

  23. Naja pallida says:

    Personally, I think they’re approaching this from the wrong angle. That this epidemic of assault is occurring at all bespeaks of a profound lack of leadership and a breakdown of the fundamental command structure within the military, and a complete and utter lack of effectiveness on the part of the UCMJ. The fact that nothing is being done about it, or that the deck is being stacked against something being done, is a symptom of that problem. The whole military has something very rotten at its core that has only gotten worse over the last decade of war. The entire system needs a thorough housecleaning, including the Senate Armed Services Committee.

  24. karmanot says:

    An embarrassment for the nation before the world. We declare that rape, like torture is business as usual. Shameful, disgraceful!

  25. jomicur says:

    No matter who testified, this hearing is window-dressing. Expecting the US military to police sexual assault internally–and to do so effectively–is about as realistic as expecting the Catholic church to do so.

  26. caphillprof says:

    If women were marching in the streets, this would have a different outcome.

  27. nicho says:

    Thank dog we worked so hard to make sure the Democrats kept the Senate. So now can we stop with the “lesser of two evils” hokum? The lesser of two evils is still evil.

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