Feinstein: Review military sexual assault cases outside command chain

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and two House Democrats who are veterans of the Iraq war on Sunday called for military sexual assault cases to be reviewed outside the chain of command.

"I think it has to be taken out of the command decision-making," Feinstein said on NBC News's "Meet The Press." "It's clear that there's too much excuse, and this has got to stop. And there has to be zero tolerance, and that has to be supported by a separate judicial process, whether it's a full court-martial process or anything else, apart from the military command structure."

The Pentagon reported last week that the estimated number of military personnel victimized by sexual assault and related offenses has increased by about 35 percent over the last two years.

"The military at this point have shown they have not been capable of fixing this problem," Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Iraq war veteran, said on CNN's "State of The Union."

"The commander should not have the power to overturn a jury's verdict," added Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who also is an Iraq war veteran.

While some lawmakers are pressing to remove decision-making on sexual assault cases from the chain of command, military leaders have expressed opposition to the idea.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · May 12, 2013