Retired Generals Join Gillibrand in Push for Sexual Assault Remedy

The U.S. Army's first woman three-star general and its former top psychiatrist join a former Obama Pentagon appointee to argue for removing prosecution of sex crimes by military members from the chain of command.

(From left) Brig. Gen. David McGinnis, retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, retired Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton. Screenshots via YouTube

Three retired generals have stepped forward in support of a measure sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) designed to address the crisis of widespread sexual assault in the military, according to a report by Politico‘s Darren Samuelsohn. Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) would remove the reporting and prosecution of rape, sexual assault, and other serious crimes from the chain of command, an approach that has encountered fierce resistance from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Politico reports:

The New York Democrat is still a long way from getting the backing of the Defense Department itself. But recent letters sent to the senator and obtained by POLITICO show she’s not without some backing from the brass. The new supporters are retired Brig. Gen. David McGinnis, a former Obama administration Pentagon appointee; retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, the first woman to be a three-star Army general; and retired Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, who was the Army’s highest-ranking psychiatrist.

In June, Gillibrand, who chairs the Armed Services personnel subcommittee, attempted to include the MJIA as part of the committee’s mark-up of the annual defense appropriation (S.1429), but Levin struck it from the committee’s draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Levin replaced it with other measures that advocates for sexual assault victims say don’t go far enough toward stemming the crisis, which appears to have gotten worse, according to Pentagon estimates, over the last several years.

After her measure was defeated in committee, Gillibrand continued to rally support for the MJIA, and at last count had a total of 46 senators pledging support, according to an aide in her office. It is expected to come up for a vote once again when the NDAA comes before the full Senate.

See Rewire‘s in-depth report, “Gillibrand’s Drive Challenges Senate Power Brokers on Military Sexual Assault Remedy,” here.