Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley, Fellow Senators Seek Meeting With Defense Secretary on Military Sexual Assault

Apr 28, 2016

Washington, D.C. – In a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) today requested a meeting to discuss new reports that allege the U.S. Department of Defense deliberately misled members of Congress as they were considering policy to address sexual assault in the military.

A report compiled by the advocacy organization Protect Our Defenders (POD), and follow-up reporting by the Associated Press, found that Department of Defense officials provided inaccurate information in order to affect the policy debate in Congress over sexual assault in the military. The reports found that cases cited by Department of Defense officials were inaccurately characterized, and that relevant information was omitted.
 
“We are deeply disturbed by the allegations in the two reports that the Department deliberately misled members as they were debating an issue of policy and oversight,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “We are sure that you share our concerns and request a meeting with you to discuss these allegations as soon as possible.” 
 
The full text of the letter is included below:
 
April 27, 2016
 
The Honorable Ashton B. Carter
Secretary of Defense
U.S. Department of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301
 
Dear Secretary Carter,
 
We are writing to express our concerns regarding allegations that the U.S. Department of Defense misled Congress during our recent debates over sexual assault in the military.
 
A newly released report by the victims’ advocacy organization Protect Our Defenders and a follow-up investigation by the Associated Press (AP), both attached, maintain that the Department provided us and our colleagues with faulty statistics in order to impact our policy debates over sexual assault in the military
 
Specifically at issue is the testimony of Admiral James Winnefeld, Jr., then Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as further correspondence sent by Admiral Winnefeld to Senators Levin and Gillibrand. Admiral Winnefeld claimed that military commanders were taking sexual assault cases that civilian authorities declined to take and used as examples 93 cases to demonstrate this claim. 
 
Both Protect Our Defenders and the AP found that these claims were inaccurate and misleading – that local law enforcement worked with the military to determine who could best handle the cases; that many of the cases were not tried for sexual assault and that there was no evidence that commanders were tougher than civilian or military prosecutors.
 
We are deeply disturbed by the allegations in the two reports that the Department deliberately misled members as they were debating an issue of policy and oversight. 
 
We are sure that you share our concerns and request a meeting with you to discuss these allegations as soon as possible. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Kirsten Gillibrand                   Chuck Grassley
United States Senator            United States Senator
 
Jeanne Shaheen                    Martin Heinrich
United States                         Senator United States Senator
 
Barbara Boxer                        Richard Blumenthal
United States Senator             United States Senator
 
Rand Paul                              Dean Heller
United States Senator             United States Senator
 
Mazie K. Hirono
United States Senator
 
 

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