Tag Archives: DOD

The ‘epidemic’ of sexual assault and rape in the U.S Military

Military sexual assault and rape ‘epidemic’

“My experience reporting military sexual assault was worse than the actual assault,” says Jessica (a pseudonym for her protection), a former marine officer and Iraq veteran who left the military because of her command’s poor handling of her assault charges. “The command has so much power over a victim of sexual assault. They are your judge, jury, executioner and mayor: they own the law. As I saw in my case, they are able to crush you for reporting an assault.”

Jessica is joining a civil lawsuit bringing claims against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, charging that under their watch the military failed to adequately and effectively investigate rapes and sexual assaults within the ranks.

The litigation, which was filed in Virginia district court in February of this year by the law office of Susan Burke, is set to go to trial in the coming months. The initial suit named 16 plaintiffs, all former or current military service members – but in recent months that number has swelled to more than 30, as more and more veterans come forward as survivors of sexual assault.

These plaintiffs join the growing crescendo of veterans, military service members, spouses and their advocates speaking out against the problem of widespread sexual assault and rape in the US military.

As the war in Afghanistan passes its ten-year mark, sexual assault runs rampant within the ranks, with an estimated one in three female service members raped during their service, according to at least one peer-reviewed study. This is in a military where women comprise more 11 per cent of active duty service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and more than 15 per cent of the total military, with at least 200,000 active duty women currently serving. This epidemic also affects men: 60 per cent of women serving in the National Guard and Reserve, along with 27 per cent of men, are estimated to have experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Perpetrators rely on a chain of command that appears to offer virtual impunity for sexual assaults committed against lower-ranking service members.

‘Re-traumatising’ redress

Military reports and Congress-appointed task forces acknowledge that sexual assault within the military is widespread. While the Department of Defense (DoD) has repeatedly said it is attempting to curb the problem, the most recent evidence shows that it has failed to adequately address the spread of this outbreak.

The most significant change made by the military in the past decade was the creation of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) in 2005. This office, which encompasses the entire DoD, is responsible for oversight of sexual assault policies and the implementation of prevention and response programs. However, SAPRO is rife with problems. The primary role of the office is to track rapes and sexual assaults and release annual reports. According to the US Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) own evaluation, SAPRO has failed to work with the disciplinary arm of the DoD, giving its reports and findings little muscle. Furthermore, the Report of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military December 2009, which was ordered by congress, found that funding of SAPRO had been “sporadic and inconsistent”.

SAPRO introduced a system of restricted reporting, allowing survivors of sexual assault to make confidential reports, to avoid outing themselves in a hostile environment.

“We are finding that it is the victim who is punished when they report.”

– Greg Jacob

While this step has increased the number of reports and created avenues for survivors to seek personal care, it does not launch an investigation into the assault. “Restricted reporting allows the military to ignore criminal aspects of sexual assault and to just take care of it,” says Greg Jacob, a former Marine and the current policy director for the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), an organisation dedicated to advocacy and providing a healing community for military service women.

Military officials claim that improvements have been made since the Defense Task Force’s 2009 report. “DoD has a zero tolerance policy on sexual assault,” says Cynthia Smith, SAPRO press spokesperson. “Over the past two years, DoD has affirmed its commitment to preventing and effectively responding to sexual assault. The department’s focus has been on reducing the stigma associated with reporting, providing sufficient training for commanders, and ensuring adequate training and resources for prosecutors and investigators.”

Yet, the prosecution rates of sexual assault in the military remains at eight per cent, a dismal percentage in light of the staggering number of assaults that are believed to go unreported. This compares to a 40 per cent prosecution rate for sexual assault charges in civilian courts, which itself is considered low. For cases that do make it to trial, sexual assault conviction rates are astoundingly low. According to SAPRO’s most recent annual report, in 2010, of 3,158 reports of military sexual assaults, only 529 alleged perpetrators were convicted, while 41 per cent were acquitted or had charges dismissed. Some six per cent were discharged or resigned in lieu of courts-martial, which means that they were allowed to leave their jobs in order to avoid sexual assault charges.

Some survivors of sexual assault claim that SAPRO’s “zero tolerance” policy has only succeeded in creating an environment where the command has incentive to deny and cover up sexual assault. “They have all of these generic catch phrases that sound great,” says Jessica. “But in reality, ‘zero tolerance policy’ means that when you make a complaint, it is hidden. Assault reflects badly on the command. What results is cover ups.”

Furthermore, critics charge that SAPRO’s educational materials are ineffective and often serve to reinforce the mentality that victims are to blame for their own assault. According to the Defense Task Force’s 2009 report, “the Task Force’s interactions with Service Members suggest training is only marginally effective”.

A sexual assault prevention poster released by SAPRO reportedly urges soldiers to “wait until she’s sober” before propositioning a woman for sex. “The military believes falsely that if you eliminate alcohol you can eliminate sexual assault,” says Jacob. “There is perception that it is the result of bad decision making on the part of the victim.”

Critics charge that SAPRO fails to address the rape culture that permeates all aspects of military life. “Rape culture separates service members from a group of people that they can consider others, victims, weaker beings,” insists Maggie Martin, Army veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), an anti-war group comprising active duty service members and veterans who have served since September 11, 2001. “The rape culture in the military is another way that some service members reduce real life trauma to a joke that they can pretend is not real. It is a way for some to try to prove they are ‘hardcore’ to the point of inhumanity.”

Many insist that the military, which is largely allowed to investigate itself, is still not telling the full story. A 2010 lawsuit filed by SWAN and the ACLU against the DoD and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) was filed after the military refused requests for government records concerning rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment in the military.

“When I heard about women who had accused someone of rape or sexual assault it was always framed as some personal vendetta the women were taking out on those they accused,”
says Martin.

Selena Coppa, a former Army Sergeant of eight years and a current member of IVAW tells of an Army Specialist who was molested by another Army Specialist while drunk and passed out. “The woman who was assaulted found out the next morning what had happened. She wanted to do something or say something. Everyone was like, what are you talking about? That is not sexual assault, only sex counts as sexual assault.”

According to Army policy, sexual assault includes sexual contact when the victim “does not or cannot consent.” Yet, rules in the books are seemingly meaningless in an environment where sexual assault appears to go unreported and unacknowledged.

Impunity of high-ranking males

“She tried making official charges, and they were never prosecuted. They refused to prosecute them.”

– Sergeant Coppa

For those who do seek redress for sexual assault and rape through the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), the legal code governing military service members, many face an uphill battle in which they are pressured to drop their charges at every step along the way.

When Jessica was raped by a senior officer and his friend, she reported the assault to her command. However, she says that the ensuing investigation was nothing more than a retaliatory measure inflicted by a command that was more interested in covering up assaults and protecting their own reputations. “My command, and the [military lawyer] ordered to do it, produced not a thorough, but a voluminous – as cover ups often are – investigation that proved that I was routinely called disgusting denunciatory names by junior and senior Marines alike, but that because I wore make up and running shorts in the summer, that I therefore welcomed the harassment and subsequent assault and did not deserve protection,” she says.

Jessica says she requested a deployment to Afghanistan to get away from the harassment and isolation she faced after filing her report, but when this was denied, she decided to leave the Marines, which she was able to do because of her status as an officer. Jessica joined the lawsuit against Rumsfeld and Gates because, she says: “No one right now is holding commanders accountable.” Meanwhile, Jessica says that she is still pursuing charges against her alleged perpetrator through the UCMJ.

Lower enlisted service members who are raped or sexually assaulted, however, often do not have the option of leaving, with many forced to continue serving alongside their perpetrators, including in war zones. “They are putting people in a situation where they are totally dependent on their peers, and when their battle buddies rape them, their superiors are not doing anything about it, explains Johanna (Hans) Buwalda, a mental health provider who has worked with survivors of war for more than twenty years. “There is no safe place for them to go. They can’t even leave the military. They have to fulfill their contract.” Some researchers say that military sexual trauma compounds deployment-related traumas by excluding women from military camaraderie and fraternity.

These military sexual assaults are in addition to the countless rapes and sexual assaults that have been carried out against civilians at the 800 US military bases around the world, including within occupied populations in Iraq and Afghanistan. While there have been several high-profile scandals exposing US military rapes and slayings of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, as well as sexual assault and humiliation as a tool of torture, there is little information about overall rates of military sexual assault of civilian populations overseas. If sexual assault rates within the military are any indicator, sexual violence would seem to be endemic to the US’ global military presence.

Last April, Jennifer (a pseudonym for protection), who is a civilian, reported sexual assault by her then-boyfriend after he returned from a tour in Afghanistan with the Marine Corps. Her alleged assaulter’s sergeant major told her that she sounded like a “crazy ex-girlfriend” and that her sexual assault charges were not viable. Jennifer spent the next year and a half contacting everyone she could think of in hope that the military would take her charges seriously. She watched as her assault charges were ignored and dismissed by SAPRO, the NCIS, and even the Pentagon. After navigating countless meetings and phone calls with caseworkers, sexual assault survivor advocates, and even several congressional representatives, Jennifer feels that she has made little progress in her effort to get a fair process through military channels, and, to date, there is no indication that her charges will bear any consequences for her alleged assaulter. Within two months of her report, her alleged assaulter was promoted, and she says that he may be deployed any day, if he is not already.

Jennifer says that the process of attempting to press charges has been deeply traumatising. “When you have been assaulted, talking about it is hard enough,” she says. “And having to wait to hear back from someone for help makes you want to give up.”

“I do not trust the US military at all. Their rules and regulations are nothing more than words on paper,” she says. “I am a woman and a civilian, and I have been treated like nothing more than a dog.”

The 1996 Federal Lautenberg Amendment, which makes it illegal for people convicted of domestic violence to carry a weapon, extends to the armed forces. With many forms of sexual assault falling under the rubric of domestic violence, assault convictions could preclude a service member from carrying a weapon.

Yet, if these assaults go unreported and untried, little stands in the way of perpetrators serving in combat, sometimes alongside those they have assaulted.

Furthermore, the military often blatantly ignores this federal law and sends convicted sex offenders and domestic abusers into war in a climate where the military is overextended, from fighting two ongoing wars. Since September 11, 2001, the DoD has been granting an increasing amount of “moral waivers” which permit soldiers convicted of domestic violence and sexual assault to serve in combat.

High rates of sexual assault take a profound toll on the mental health of service members. Sexual assault is the number one predictor for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for women serving in the military, according to a study in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. Yet the difficulty and stigma against reporting sexual assaults creates significant obstacles for survivors seeking care and disability benefits through the VA. A study by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America shows that approximately 40 per cent of homeless female veterans report having been sexually assaulted in the military.

Members of IVAW are drawing attention to the problem of sexual assault and rape that plagues the military. “IVAW’s campaign Operation Recovery is focused on raising awareness about sexual assault and gender-based violence,” explains Martin. “We are building a healing community where veterans and service members can challenge military leadership and stand up for the right to heal and the right to access the care survivors of trauma need.”

“As an organiser I believe that the best way for us to combat military sexual trauma is to tell the truth about it,” insists Martin. “We need to tell the truth that all types of people are sexually assaulted and that no one deserves it. We need to start looking to the perpetrators of sexual assault and the military environment for answers, not look to victims to see how they can be blamed for their own assault.”

SOURCE

Prepare For Armageddon

Prepare For Armageddon
by Raja Mujtaba

We will do it with or without you, US tells Pakistan

Armageddon (commonly known as the battle against the anti-Christ) according to the Bible, is the site of a battle during the end times, variously interpreted as either a literal or symbolic location. The term is also used in a generic sense to refer to any end-of-the-world scenario.

According to some Muslim and Christian interpretations, the Messiah will return to earth and defeat the Antichrist, Satan the Devil, in the battle of Armageddon. According to the Muslim belief, it would be Imam Mehdi who would precede Prophet Jesus who would fight the one eyed beast called Dajjal (Anti Christ). Then Satan will be put into the “bottomless pit” or abyss for 1,000 years, known as the Millennial Age. After being released from the abyss, Satan will gather Gog and Magog (peoples of two specific nations) from the four corners of the earth. They will encamp surrounding the “holy ones” and the “beloved city” (this refers to Jerusalem). Fire will come down from God, out of heaven and devour Gog and Magog after the Millennium.

According to the Muslim belief, the forces to battle the one eyed beast would rise from the area of Khurasan that comprises of portion of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and part of Central Asia. If the anti-Christ forces have assembled in Afghanistan, it’s not a coincidence but well thought out Zionist strategy to take on Pakistan, the nuclear power of the Muslim world so its free to advance other Muslim territories without any fear.

Most historians and scholars believe that the present stretching of the US and NATO Forces far and beyond their legitimate areas of interests, is a sign of final showdown. The placement of US forces in Afghanistan is seen as the final buildup to attack the Muslim lands. This could well become the graveyard of the US troops from where they may never escape death. Presently, the grouping of pro and anti Christ Forces is seen to be taking place. The US and NATO clearly appear to be on the side of the Anti-Christ and siding with the Zionists the real anti-Christ Forces. Zionists are known to be Satan worshipers in their secret hideouts therefore are working to create a godless world and control the entire resources.

Sensing these developments, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin prior to his departure for China, cautioned his generals to prepare for Armageddon. A similar message was also delivered to the Chinese leadership that has the Chinese Forces also on high alert. Apparently in the same context, Putin has resolved all differences with China to forge a clear unity for times ahead.

Sino-Russian alliance is very timely, seeing the hard threatening statements of Hillary Clinton that she fired at Pakistan from Kabul before flying to Islamabad is very alarming. Pakistan has some hard decisions to make.

Commander William Guy Carr, in his book ‘Pawns In The Game’ probably written in 1948 stated that third revolution and third world war are in the offing for which the grouping is taking place. He also stated categorically that the third world war would be against Islam.

Plans for this “Total Global War” or the war against Islam the Americans are preparing to launch were first revealed to China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) by a former Blackwater agent Bryan Underwood who has been apprehended by the US authorities for spying.

If one observes the way the US and NATO are waging their wars in Muslim countries proves William Carr to be correct.

Blackwater, the global contractor for CIA is operating in almost all the target countries, arrest of Raymond Davis in Pakistan did expose the US designs; had he been retained and grilled for some indefinite time, much more would have been revealed. Pakistan is infested with Blackwater, they have made inroads in ethnic political parties more so in Karachi, the port city of Pakistan. Balochistan has also become a hotbed where secessionists forces are being patronized by CIA, MI6, Mossad and RAW. As believed now, the US has also launched biological warfare in Pakistan where dengue is killing people on daily basis.

On reading the situation of the coming US plans for Total Global War, Putin spelt out an alliance to integrate the former Soviet Republics into closer cooperation. He scheduled an emergency trip to China to meet with Hu, and ordered the FSB (Russian Agency) to notify China’s MSS of the arrest and detention of their spy Tun Sheniyun who was captured last year for attempting to steal sensitive information on Russia’s most powerful anti-aircraft system.

Today Libya has fallen, how the Libyans would benefit from it only time would tell but one thing is sure that US and her allies have formed a bridgehead in Africa. Further deployment of the US troops in Africa are taking place, its China encirclement there where China has friends in the Muslim countries. Sudan has been split, and Obama plans to occupy some other countries like Uganda, Somalia, Morocco etc. In Africa, says Obama, the “humanitarian mission” is to assist the government of Uganda defeat the Lord’s resistance Army (LRA), which “has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa”. Incidentally, Africa also happens to be the Chinese success story therefore by taking over Africa, China would also be chocked. Libya was one of the major oil suppliers to China now that hangs in air. Gaddafi was trying to dump dollar for gold that instigated the US to attack her through a cleverly manipulated and orchestrated moves.

After having been deceived in Libya where the US assured both Russia and China that it will not attack but did quite contrary to what was promised. Sensing that US plans to attack Syria, Russia and China were quick to veto the American resolution in the security council that infuriated the US Ambassador Susan Rice who left the session in rage.

Dick Cheney pointed out in his 1990s “defence strategy” plan, America simply wishes to rule the world so that’s forging ahead following the Nixonian doctrine, ‘seize the moment.’

Reported by the EU Times, the “New Great Game” moves being planned by the Americans is to strike fear into both Russia and China that includes:

1.) The deliberate implosion of both the US and EU economies in order to destroy the Global Financial System that has been in place since the ending of World War II

2.) The launching of a massive conventional war by the US and EU on the North American, African and Asian Continents to include the Middle East

3.) During this all-out war the deliberate releasing of bio-warfare agents meant to kill off millions, if not billions, of innocent civilians

4.) At the height of this war the US and its allies will sue for peace and call for a new global order to be established in order to prevent the total destruction of our planet.

Confirming the fears, an unidentified source within the US Department of Defense (DOD) warned that the Obama regime was preparing for a massive “tank-on-tank” war and that US military forces are “expecting something conventional, and big, coming down the pipe relatively soon.”

To how close this war may be the FSB in their report states that it will be “much sooner than later” as the Americans have pre-positioned in Iraq nearly 2,000 of their M1 Abrams main battle tanks, have pre-positioned another 2,000 of them in Afghanistan, and between the Middle East and Asia have, likewise, put into these war theaters tens-of-thousands of other typed armored vehicles. This should be a grave cause of concern for Pakistan.

Being at war, the US can also effect “Full Mobilization” of over 1.5 million American reserve forces which can occur at “at a moment’s notice” for which US needs no Congressional approval to expand their areas of operation is also being examined when America is fully poised to advance in Asia and Middle East.

Now that Hillary Clinton is on her Pakistan visit accompanied by the new CIA Chief, David Petraeus, Chairman US Joint Staff, General Martin Dempsey and Marc Grossman. Keeping the armoured buildup in the region and having an Armour Officer as the new Chairman of Joint Staff, could one say it a coincidence or a planned strategy?

Hillary, as expected that I mentioned in my CNBC News analysis on 19th October, has arrived with a tough warning for Pakistan, saying, “We will do it with or without you.” This has certainly placed Pakistan in a very trying situation. Pakistan has other options to join the third force that is in formation led by Russia and China to counter the US moves in the region. If Pakistan, Iran, Syria and other Muslim states including Saudi Arabia join this alliance, that would certainly deter the US and her allies, if not then every Muslim country would fall one after the other without exception and their assets would be frozen.

Important to note about the American plan for global domination through massive warfare is that it is not really a secret, and as (curiously) revealed on the tenth anniversary of the 11 September attacks upon the United States when the US National Security Archive released a memo written by former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in September 2001 wherein he warned “If the war does not significantly change the world’s political map, the US will not achieve its aim.”

To what the “aim” of the United States is as their war against the world has now entered its 10th year, the FSB says, is to prevent “at all costs” the implosion of the US Dollar as the main reserve currency of the present global economic system before the West’s envisioned “New World Order” can be established.

The first threat to the Americans “master plan” for global hegemony came in November 2000 when the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein quit accepting US Dollars for oil and, instead, stated his country would only accept Euros. In less than 10 months an attack on the US was engineered and used that as an excuse to topple Hussein and reestablish the US Dollar as the world’s main reserve currency.

Interesting to note is the failure of Libya’s former leader Gaddafi’s plan to introduce the gold dinar, a single African currency that would serve as an alternative to the US Dollar and allow African nations to share the wealth, but which like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein “plan” brought a swift and brutal invasion by the Americans and their Western allies to keep it from happening.

The only nation that has successfully abandoned the US Dollar is Iran, who since February 2009 abandoned all American currency opting instead to value their oil and gas in Euros. Iran, however, and unlike oil rich Iraq and Libya, has not been attacked due to the Iranians having acquired from Ukraine between 6-10 nuclear armed X-55 missiles (range of 3,000km [2,000 miles]) in 2005. Although the former Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko denies that the missiles contain their nuclear tips, a statement disputed by the FSB who states they were armed and “ready to fire.”

As a preemption, to counter the planned American blitzkrieg into Central Asia and Pakistan from Afghanistan, Indian Army Chief General VK Singh warned yesterday that thousands of Chinese military forces have now moved into Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir joining an estimated 11,000 more of them believed to have entered that region in the past year.

Before the US ventures into other Muslim lands, the US would want a submissive or a broken and denuclearized Pakistan. In both the scenarios it would mean Pakistan’s death. In such a scenario, Pakistan maybe compelled to go for non conventional weapons; if such a development takes place, India, Israel and the US installations in the region would not be safe. Can the US risk such a situation would only depend on the arrogance and sanity level of the US leadership.

SOURCE