Opinion


US Military Leadership Says “Zero Tolerance for Murder, Assault and Hazing,” But Marine Corps Courts Rule Differently

 

Colonel Ann Wright, US Army Reserves (Retired)
warisacrime.org
February 13, 2012

Despite US military leadership stating there is zero tolerance for murder, assault and hazing, recent Marine Corps court-martial plea bargains and court-martial panel decisions in manslaughter and assault trials indicate strong institutional “tolerance” for those crimes.

None of 8 Marines Charged in the notorious 2005 Haditha Murder of 24 Unarmed Civilian Iraqis is Convicted

Six years after a horrific attack in 2005 on unarmed Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha, Iraq, in which 24 persons, including seven children, a toddler, three women and a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, were killed by US Marines in retaliation for an IED blowing up a Marine vehicle in which one Marine died, no Marines have been found guilty of murder or manslaughter.

To read the full piece at warisacrime.org, click here.

Victims of Military Rape Deserve Justice

 

Rep. Jackie Speier
Special to CNN.com
February 7, 2012

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has announced new initiatives to curtail what he calls “the epidemic” of rape and sexual assaults in our armed forces. In 2010, an estimated 19,000 service members were raped or sexually assaulted by other service members. Clearly, more resources devoted to counseling for victims and training for prosecutors and judges will help.

But the incidence of unpunished rapes will continue and so will the damaging effects these illegal acts have on troop morale and preparedness. This epidemic requires an overhaul of the military justice system.

To read Rep. Speier’s  opinion piece at CNN.com, click here.

In This Rape Center, the Patient Was 3

 

Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times
October 8, 2011

 

In a rape treatment center here, I met a 3-year-old patient named Jessica, who was cuddling a teddy bear.

Jessica had seemed sick and was losing weight, but she wouldn’t say what was wrong. Her mother took her to a clinic, and a doctor ferreted out the truth. She had been raped and was infected with gonorrhea.

As I stood in the rape center corridor, reeling from the encounter with Jessica, a 4-year-old girl was brought in for treatment. She, too, turned out to have been infected with a sexually transmitted disease in the course of a rape. Also in the center that day were a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old, along with older girls.

Sexual violence is a public health crisis in much of the world, and women and girls ages 15 to 44 are more likely to be maimed or killed by men than by malaria, cancer, war or traffic accidents combined, according to a 2005 study. Such violence remains a significant problem in the United States, but it’s particularly prevalent in countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia or Congo that have endured civil war. The pattern is that after peace arrives, men stop shooting each other but continue to rape women and girls at staggering rates — and often at staggeringly young ages.

 

To read the full piece in The New York Times, click here.

 

 

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman Photo: Los Angeles Times

Liberia’s Leymah Gbowee: The Power of the Powerless

Carol Mithers
Los Angeles Times
October 9, 2011

Friday morning, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee — along with her country’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman — was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. A decade ago, this moment would have seemed unthinkable. But Gbowee’s triumph, like last spring’s Arab uprisings, is a powerful reminder that in the 21st century world, change often comes from the bottom — not from a country’s armies but its people.

In 2001, Liberia was in the grip of a civil war that had been going on for years and that had decimated the country. More than 100,000 people had died, many of them children, and countless women had been raped. As many as a third of Liberians had been displaced. Much of the country’s infrastructure — its sewage and electrical system, roads, hospitals and schools — lay in ruins. Thousands of boys had been pressed into fighting for one side or another, fed liquor and drugs and turned into killers.

To read the full column in The Los Angeles Times, click here.

Carol Mithers is a Los Angeles Journalist and the coauthor, with Leymah Gbowee, of the memoir “Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War.”http://www.mightybeourpowers.com

EDITORIAL: Good Intentions Not Enough

North County Times and The Californian opinion staff
September 30, 2011

The intentions of members of Congress were in the right place when they toughened up the portions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that deal with rape in the armed forces.

When our daughters, sisters, wives and mothers enlist in the military, or accept a warrant or commission as an officer, their fears of physical harm should be the normal ones facing any airman, Coast Guardsman, Marine, sailor or soldier of harm from combat —- not at the hands of a colleague.

Yet far too many do —- with some 4 percent of military women reporting unwanted sexual contact. Given the warrior mentality in all our armed services, it is almost assuredly much higher, with many simply not reporting them.

Read the full editorial at the North County Times, here.

Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces

 

Representative Niki Tsongas (D.- Mass.)
The Boston Globe
February 27, 2011

More than a dozen veterans who were victims of sexual assault while serving in the US military, including two from Massachusetts, recently filed suit in federal court alleging that the Pentagon did not take adequate steps to protect them. Their complaint is reflective of the deep frustration and sense of betrayal that many victims feel with our military leadership, which seems to be unwilling to forcefully confront the issue of sexual assault within the ranks and which has not provided sufficient resources, rights, and legal protections to victims.

Last year, there were 3,230 reported sexual assaults against members of our armed forces. However, the Pentagon estimates that as few as 10 percent of such assaults are actually reported.

To read this full article at The Boston Globe, click here.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against the Pentagon

 

Ann Wright
opednews.com
February 20, 2011

DOD Fails to Protect Service Members from Rape in the Military

On February 15, 2011, the Pentagon was slammed with a class action lawsuit filed by 15 women and two men who are victims and survivors of rape in the military. Filed in the Eastern District of Northern Virginia by Attorney Susan Burke, the lawsuit contends that Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, as Secretaries of the Department of Defense, “failed to investigate rapes and sexual assaults, failed to prosecute perpetrators, failed to provide an adequate judicial system as required by the Uniform Military Justice Act and failed to abide by Congressional deadlines to implement Congressionally-ordered institutional reforms to stop rapes and other sexual assaults.

To read Colonel Wright’s full article at OpEdNews.com, click here.

The U.S. Military’s ‘Rape Epidemic’

 

Best of U.S. Opinion Pieces
The Week
February 17, 2011

This week, 17 veterans and active-duty service members filed a landmark lawsuit accusing the Pentagon of looking the other way despite frequent reports of rape and other abuse against women in the armed forces. The suit singles out Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, accusing them of running an institution in which violence against women is tolerated. A Pentagon spokesman said “sexual assault is a wider societal problem” and the military is trying to prevent it, just as civilian leaders are. What might the lawsuit accomplish?

Best U.S. Opinion in The Week on this subject from:
Gather, Feministing, New Civil Rights Movement

To read the full piece at The Week, click here.

Gov’t to Set up Panel to Ease Burden on Okinawa

 

The Mainchi Daily News (Kyodo)
September 7, 2010

The government plans to set up a panel, probably later this month, to discuss with the Okinawa prefectural government how to ease the burden on the prefecture from the concentrated presence of U.S. military bases, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

The central government is planning to establish the panel due to strong local opposition to the Japan-U.S. agreement on the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station within the prefecture, the sources said.

To read the full story at The Mainchi Daily News, click here.

For additional information on this issue, refer to the links below:

EDITORIAL: Futenma relocation plan  Asahi Shimbun, August 5, 2010

Another Battle of Okinawa

 

Despite protests, the U.S. insists on going ahead with plans for a new military base on the island.

By Chalmers Johnson
Los Angeles Times
May 6, 2010

The United States is on the verge of permanently damaging its alliance with Japan in a dispute over a military base in Okinawa. This island prefecture hosts three-quarters of all U.S. military facilities in Japan. Washington wants to build one more base there, in an ecologically sensitive area. The Okinawans vehemently oppose it, and tens of thousands gathered last month to protest the base. Tokyo is caught in the middle, and it looks as if Japan’s prime minister has just caved in to the U.S. demands.

In the globe-girdling array of overseas military bases that the United States has acquired since World War II — more than 700 in 130 countries — few have a sadder history than those we planted in Okinawa.

To read Chalmers Johnson’s complete opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, click here.

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For more information about Chalmers Johnson, visit his selected bibliography page on usmvaw.com, by clicking here.

Or visit the Japan Policy Research Institute (JPRI), by clicking here.

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