Aug 8, 2013
Every year the President gives a commencement speech at one of the service academies. This year President Obama chose the Naval Academy and used the speech as an opportunity to speak out against sexual assault in the military. He stated, “We have to be determined to stop these crimes because they’ve got no place in the greatest military on Earth.” It is difficult to take issue with what the President actually said. The problem is with what he didn’t say.
What the President did not say is that there is already immense pressure from command to stop sexual assault in the military. That pressure has increased tremendously in the last few weeks. The pressure has led to investigations that miss key details about alleged incidents, and that leads to prosecutions that never should have happened in the first place. We all know that when two people make a bad decision and have sex one or both of them regret it later, especially if they were not supposed to be having sex. Unfortunately, sometimes one of the people will claim sexual assault rather than fess up to exercising poor judgment. It happens. In the civilian world, police investigate and gather all of the relevant evidence. Prosecutors decline to prosecute when the evidence suggests that the sex was a bad, but consensual, decision. In today’s military, investigators look only for evidence of guilt, and service members are prosecuted when the sex was a bad, but consensual, decision.
It’s too bad that while ratcheting up the pressure to stop sexual assault in the military, President Obama didn’t ratchet up the pressure to make sure that investigations are thorough and that only appropriate cases are prosecuted.