Senators Launch Bi-Partisan Effort to Tackle Sexual Assault in Military

Democratic and Republican senators deliver remarks regarding legislation to tackle alleged crimes.
3:00 | 07/16/13

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Transcript for Senators Launch Bi-Partisan Effort to Tackle Sexual Assault in Military
I want to thank all the senators who have fought on this issue so hard I want to thank senator boxer. For her tremendous work on this issue and for being a tireless partner in leader in this effort. On behalf of our brave members the services. I also want to thank senator Collins after standing firmly with us since day one when we introduced the bell as well as senator Grassley for being a true champion -- issue. Like to thank you now. I'll say that again I think senator -- there for her tremendous work on the issue and for being an amazing advocate an unbelievable. Champion for victims and someone who has worked so tirelessly from the very beginning. I also want to thank senator Blumenthal. Senator Jeanne Shaheen -- grant Kay Hagan Lisa Murkowski. With the working with -- steadily on the committee from the very beginning as well. Today I want to thank senator Rand Paul for being here. Fort deciding to take a leadership role on such an important issue -- really take this crisis head on. I also want to thank senator Ted Cruz for his. Very steadfast votes in the armed services committee and helping us lead this new amendment. Going forward. I think both of them are going to add deeply -- this this. Extraordinary issue that needs. Dramatic leadership and bold action. I also want to thank senator Grassley again for being with us on the first day for being the lead sponsor amongst Republicans with senator Collins. That early leadership made all the difference in the world. Now our effort now is to bring to build a -- strong bipartisan coalition. That is going to and sexual assaults in the military and the way we want to do it is create an independent. Accountable. Military justice system. That is not partisan and that is not ideological. That can create the kind of accountability and transparency. That our men and women who serve in the military need to that they can receive justice. Are carefully crafted common sense proposal. Was written in direct response to what the victims told us the stories that came from them. What happened to them the fact that they didn't trust the chain of command that they were retaliated against that they didn't believe justice was possible. So this is not a democratic idea it is not a Republican idea. It is a good idea that meets the needs of the victims crates transparency accountability. And -- they needed objectivity. That this issue deserves. So I want to now turn it over to others and Alice speak that the conclusion of my colleague's remarks we are now -- it turn it over to. Senator Grassley. I'm glad to be a part of this effort to build support for military justice improvement act. The status -- Is not working. And we need to shake it out. If we don't crack down on the corrosive culture. That this sexual assault represents if we don't crack down on the individuals who use sexual violence as a means of our personal power and personal gain. Then will create lingering. Institutional problems. There won't jeopardize morale and the impact recruitment and retention of troops. The bipartisan legislation introduced by our colleague senator Gillibrand. We'll give members of the armed services. More confidence in the military system of justice. The reform world do justice to the US military code of honor which is based on integrity. -- fidelity. To the rule of law. Sexual assault is a law enforcement issue. And one young adults make the commitment to serve their country in uniform. And put themselves in harm's way to defend and protect America's freedoms. They deserve to know that their rights will be protected. Including access to justice and not have that access to justice. Intervened by somebody. Who for reasons unknown. May. Short circuit and not see that justice is do you ever think -- senators deal. And it -- and yes. Well if we. Tickets that if you can see you. -- -- -- -- I am proud to be part of this bipartisan coalition for change. That's. What we represent change. Change that has been coming for twenty long years. And I'm here to say I've been in the senate for that long time. And so has senator Grassley and we know and we've seen. Every secretary of defense called for. Zero tolerance. On sexual assaults in military and every time nothing happens. I want to tell you what story can tell you mini each of us guide. That reflects why we have to do this. Stacy Robinson. And nineteen join Marines. For every right reason she left to country and one to put her life on the line for -- country. She was -- -- on a date by a sergeant. He took her to a bar. He drug terror at that. He took her back to the barracks and he raped her. He dropped -- on the ground in front of the bar and for any -- None of those facts are in dispute. I want to tell you. What happened to Stacy Robinson and what happened to her. -- traitor I'm told it's Thompson Stacy Thompson. What happened to her perpetrators. This state in -- won't -- The chain of command. Suggested to the perpetrators that he get his butt out of the military. In order to avoid any consequence whatsoever. And Stacy. She was investigated. For drug use. From that night. She after ten years or more she's coming out to talk about the story which has scarred her for ever. So do -- change yes. And what happened in. The armed services committee. Was some good. Good small tweaks to the system which we strongly support but the main change that was supported in -- committee. By senator Gillibrand and her other. Co sponsors here. Didn't happen -- a close to showing you quickly a couple of charts. No particular order of things and there. Zero tolerance for sexual assault by US defense secretary's over the last two decades. Statements by secretary -- -- it's not good enough to say we have a zero tolerance policy. We do. But what does that mean how does that translate. Well. He should be supporting us. Senator -- and sorry secretary Leon Panetta. We've absolutely no tolerance. For any form of sanctions so Secretary Gates first of all I haven't singer talents fourth -- the next this really gets old. Very quickly. Secretary Rumsfeld sexual assault will not be tolerated. The secretary William Cohen discussed in 97. I intend to enforce strict policy. -- zero tolerance of hazing and sexual assault and races and secretary William Perry this goes back -- 1984 and for all of these reasons therefore we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment and lastly. Secretary Cheney. -- 89. Well we've got a major effort under -- To educate everybody don't let them know that we've got a zero tolerance policy -- section of the essence involved. It's not with the words. It's enough. With empty promises. It's time for some real change in senator Gillibrand is leading a store that change. Two more quick much -- charts 90%. I want you remember that. 90%. A sexual assault are not. Underline not reported. Because they tell us. And as senator Gillibrand has said eloquently we don't listen they tell us they won't report it because they don't want to see in the -- -- And -- laughs. This isn't something the senator pulled out of the -- Look at our allies. In Israel since 1955. Outside the chain of command Canada 98. Outside the chain of command Australia 2005. Outside the -- man United Kingdom 2006. So don't let anyone tell you this system. Idea. That is so out of the mainstream. We are in the mainstream this status quo is out of the mainstream it is it working and I am as proud as I can be. To stand with the coalition like this and just. Make a statement to those victims who are waiting for justice. And to our colleagues who were looking at us and decide. Please. Please put your faith. In change. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- You know why I try not to look at issues from partisan view and I'm sure IDs sometimes but I try not to him as a position. I look at problems and I try to find solutions. I'm concerned you know about justice and I wanted to occur in the military for the victims as well as potentially those accused. Justice is very important to -- Both for the accused and the victim I'm concerned that victims of assault. May be deterred from reporting their assault if they have to report to their boss. I'm also concerned. About in -- -- too many lawyers in the everyday life the military. And then getting in the way in the military mission. The vast majority of our soldiers are honorable and upstanding individuals we're talking about a very small percentage but if they commit crimes they should be punished. In finding justice for the victims we must make sure that -- due process for all. Some say we have no bipartisan cooperation around here and I disagree I think this is a great example of how. People from both sides come together and are willing to work on a problem. And look honestly at you know what the problem is so -- I heard about this my first impression was a positive one. As I looked at the bill I ask in senator Gillibrand asked to come by and talk to -- we talked about it. I thought there -- one or two things that may be were included in this that we should exclude from this she was very open to the discussion. And it makes my support even stronger for this is that there were a couple things we removed. That weren't sexual assault -- murder these were disobeying orders and some other things and we said. You know what will -- leave that in the line of command when -- keep serious crimes murder rape sexual assault. In here. And I think it's -- -- -- even stronger and I'll we saw the motive was -- for the bill granting the bills even stronger -- sees no reason why conservatives shouldn't support this. The only thing I think standing in the way is just sort of the status quo. And senator box was actually -- -- as -- and sexual assault. Why don't we if it if it appears as if there is some deterrents to victims reporting a crime. While we fix it so I see no reason not -- and I'm glad to be part of the process I can't thank you. Thank you. Sexual assault is a grave violation. Of the trust and duty that we our servicemen and service one. When our sons and daughters sign up to defend our nation. They willingly. Anticipate facing hostile fire. From enemy forces. But they don't sign up to potentially be subject to sexual assault. From their Alex. The Supreme Court rightly described. Rape. As short of murder the ultimate violation of self. Now every senator. -- -- a poster -- opposed to sexual assault and wants to act to prevent. And I'll tell you having spoken with. A number of our commanders I'm convinced that our commanders in the military. Want to see this problem go away. That they understand they have heard the message and they are working to make ago. But unfortunately this problem is persisted despite good faith repeated efforts this problem has persisted. And I have to say. The process whereby this amendment has gone forward really underscores I think the way the deliberative process of the senate supposed to work. Because -- the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on this matter really undecided I think there are good and reasonable arguments. By the chairman of the committee and by others about preserving the chain of command about keeping responsibility in the chain of command that I think have real force. And I have to tell you entering the here in the committee hearing undecided. I was persuaded by senator Gillibrand. Exceptionally passionate. And able advocates. And in particular -- two point senator Gillibrand made that that that moved me and convinced me that this was the right and responsible thing to do. First of all was the point of the most persistent problem we've seen. An unwillingness and inability to report these crimes that the victims of sexual assault for whatever reason. Have consistently remained reluctant afraid. To come forward and report the crimes and there can be no prosecution could mean no -- If we don't have reporting of crimes. And despite all of the efforts. That have been made in the past that senator Joe Oliver and I believe made a persuasive case. That keeping the reporting in the chain of command -- Rand said having to go to your boss. And raise the the problem that ship -- the crime. Of sexual assault with your boss. Has proven in fact. To be -- Victims from reporting their crimes. And secondly was the point. That a number of our allies. Including great Britain and Israel. And Germany. Had been implemented policies similar to this and the results in practice. Have been reporting rates of increased on a big believer in following the data where they lead. And the fact that other professional militaries. Had been able to maintain discipline maintain the chain of command maintain effectiveness maintain readiness and at the same time. Improve reporting. And improve deterrence to me was persuasive so I am proud to stand. With senator Gillibrand with all of the senators up here I appreciate their leadership. And I'm proud to see the senate working. To fix this problem to make sure that we protect every young man and every young woman who signs up. To defend our nation to defend our liberties and make sure that they have a safe secure environment where they can trust. Their fellow soldiers and be secure. From any threat of sexual so. -- -- You definitely see the political spectrum must support represented right here. And I'm proud to stand here with not just -- colleagues here but there are others who are very much. Concerned and one isn't. Take some specific action relating to sexual trauma and the military. Yes this has been going on for far too long there is no magic bullet answer but one of these answers and responses. We think is to remove the chain of command from speaking the decision to investigate and go for it. On the other hand there are plenty of other things that we need to do because we are dealing with the culture in the military. That has. Allowed this to occur for decades and decades so the commander has a responsibility. To change that culture there's a whole huge prevention aspect that the commanders should take called -- There's our education opportunities their all of these other things that can happen and the navy is doing some of this. Starting in a small wave where they address the incidents and the use of alcohol -- -- -- very much a part. Of these kinds of of crimes so there are so many ways that we can address this -- this is one very specific. Way that we beef. Will result memoir of these crimes being reported and we think that that is one of the first -- that we have to address so I think. On my colleagues and of course Christensen.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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