Setback to military sexual assault bill

Updated
Credit: Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Credit: Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Paula Bronstein

There is a major setback for new legislation aimed at stopping the growing number of sexual assaults in the military. Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, on Tuesday dropped a proposal to give military prosecutors, rather than the commanders, the power to decide which sex assault crimes to try.

Committee member, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, told Jansing & Co. she wasn’t surprised at Levin’s decision because after last week’s hearing, she knew it would be an uphill battle. But, she said “I think we need to do something fundamentally different if we’re going to address this problem.”

One option, Shaheen said, is for the U.S. to look at other countries as examples for taking these types of crime outside of the chain of command.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel disagreed with the proposal to hand control of sexual assault cases to military prosecutors instead of commanders.

“I don’t think you can eliminate the command structure from this process because it is the culture within that institution that needs to change, and those are the people, that is the culture,” Hagel said Wednesday. “So I don’t think you can change anything by eliminating those people in the command from the accountability process.”

Watch the full interview with Sen. Shaheen below:

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Setback to military sexual assault bill

Updated