WASHINGTON, DC - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) is joined by 77 bipartisan Members of Congress in a renewed call for a Congressional hearing of the widespread sex scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, that includes 12 Military Training Instructors who now face charges including sexual misconduct with trainees, rape, sodomy, and assault; 31 victims have been identified. The Air Force has also temporarily or permanently removed 35 out of the 375 instructors based at Lackland for unprofessional conduct since last summer, including an unknown number for sexual misconduct. The Air Force has conceded that this case is the biggest of its kind ever at Lackland.
Congresswoman Speier first called for a House Armed Services Committee hearing in a letter dated June 18, 2012, but has thus far received no response from Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA). Today, 77 more Members of Congress, including 10 who serve on HASC, have called on the Committee to investigate the sex scandal. They write:
"In light of the alarming trend of sexual assault cases documented in the military as a whole, it is imperative that Congress hold the military accountable and truly implement a zero-tolerance policy in response to this problem, and address credible reports of wrongdoing immediately so that justice is swiftly and appropriately rendered.
"This issue clearly warrants an investigation by this Committee. Holding a hearing on Lackland will demonstrate the committee’s commitment to this issue, allow the military to bring to the committee their concerns with this problem and efforts to fight it, and give voice to the victims."
The complete letter is available here.
In addition to the call for action from Members of Congress, more than 3000 advocates have called on HASC Chairman McKeon to hold a hearing on Lackland. On Wednesday, the group Protect Our Defenders, began promotion of a petition written by Former Navy Lieutenant and Tailhook Scandal whistleblower, Paula Coughlin-Puopolo. Coughlin-Pupolo writes, “Congress should open an investigation immediately, and then put an end to the ‘systemic issues’ of military rape and sexual assault by legislating fundamental reform.”
Congresswoman Speier has delivered two impassioned speeches about the Lackland scandal on the floor of the House of Representatives. On June 7, 2012 she asked, "Is this what zero tolerance means in the military?"
On June 28, 2012 she drew a parallel between the Lackland scandal and the Aberdeen Proving Grounds scandal that rocked the Army in the 90s. "Nothing has changed," she said. "I called for a hearing into the Lackland scandal because we need to know once and for all why instructors have been permitted to abuse power so freely and we need to know from the top that the phrase, zero tolerance for sexual assault in the military, is a fact, not a talking point."
June 7, 2012
June 28, 2012Speier is the author of H.R. 3435, the The Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act—the STOP Act— which would take the reporting, oversight, investigation, and victim care of sexual assaults out of the hands of the military’s normal chain of command and places jurisdiction in the newly created, autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office comprised of civilian and military experts. The STOP Act has over 120 cosponsors and is supported by veteran advocates across the country.