Politics Mullen now supports removing commanders from sexual assault prosecutions
Removing military commanders from sexual assault cases won't yield meaningful solutions
Opposing View: Commanders are key to eliminating sexual assault and harassment in the ranks. Removing them is precisely the wrong approach. Third, reporting on, investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases is challenging and complex for many reasons that have little to do with who makes the charging decisions. Civilian prosecutions of these crimes suffer from many of the same problems we see in the military. Removing the commander from the system will not change this. Victor M. Hansen is a professor of law at New England Law Boston and a retired Army lawyer.
Retired Adm. Michael Mullen says he now supports removing commanders from sexual assault prosecutions.
"I'm at a point now where I am ready to support removal, which is a huge step for me because I recognize how serious that issue is," Mullen Politico. "We just can't keep doing what we're doing because it hasn't worked."
Mullen's comments Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Thursday released a bill with bipartisan support that would take away the power of military commanders to decide if a sexual assault case should be prosecuted.
Austin tight lipped on whether to take sexual assault cases out of commanders' hands
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday would not say if he will impose new recommendations to prosecute sexual assaults outside the military's chain of command.The Pentagon chief said he is still waiting for military service chiefs and secretaries to give their two cents on the matter later this month, though his top uniformed adviser, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, has already dropped his objection to the proposed change."I think it's worth having my leaders, our leaders, engage in discussion on this," Austin said alongside Milley at the pair's first joint press briefing since Austin took office in January.
The bill would give specially trained military prosecutors the reins in navigating sexual assault cases.
Many lawmakers have changed their minds on this issue and have come to support Gillibrand's proposal, but Mullen's is particularly impactful as he is the former chair of the Joint Chiefs and is a top advisor to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Austin was picked by Mullen to be the director of the Joint Staff during Mullen's time as the chair.
"The Secretary has the utmost respect for Adm. Mullen. He has also been very clear that he wants to keep an open mind about the initial recommendations made to him by the Independent Review Commission. He is reviewing those recommendations now and has asked for the leaders of each of the services to do the same," Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement to The Hill.
An independent panel was appointed by Austin earlier this year to look into sexual assault cases in the military and the panel also advised Austin to have sexual assault cases looked at by someone other than a military commander.
Congress would have to pass legislation in order to change military law and remove sexual assault cases from the hands of the commanders.
This is not the first time Mullen has advocated for change in the military.
Mullen was the first sitting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff to support the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell."
Updated 7:50 p.m.
Ex-Border Patrol agent accused of being serial rapist in decades-old cases in Arizona .
John Daly III, a former Border Patrol agent, was arrested after DNA evidence connected him to sexual assaults in Arizona from 1999-2001, police said.John Daly III, 57, was arrested in Sierra Vista, Arizona, on Tuesday, the Mesa Police Department said in a statement.