Imagine these scenarios: A junior female soldier has an affair with an infantry officer in Iraq. When the relationship cools she revengefully accuses him of sexual assault. Her e-mailed complaint activates the Office of the Victim Advocate in the Pentagon. OVA officials pressure the accused officer’s commander to remove him from his unit on the eve of battle.
At the Naval Academy, a female midshipman willingly parties with a classmate. Both have broken rules against alcohol and sex in Bancroft Hall, but to escape punishment she accuses him of sexual assault. The male midshipman is threatened with criminal prosecution and dismissal.
Meanwhile a Marine is barred from his home because his wife told authorities she fears domestic violence. Civilians funded by the Office of Victim Advocate help obtain a court protective order, but not counseling to save the marriage. The accused husband’s “treatment” requires him to sign a release disclosing his “violence history” to commanders and military investigators.
Scenarios such as this could become commonplace if Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld establishes an Office of the Victim Advocate in the Pentagon. Legislation to establish a high-level OVA failed in Congress, but Rumsfeld’s Office of Military Community and Family Policy signed an undisclosed contract with Wellesley College Centers for Women to “study” prospects for one anyway.
Implementation of a self-interested Wellesley proposal could create a new job market for “women’s studies” graduates schooled in man-hating ideology. Sexual assault is always wrong and should be punished promptly at the local level. An OVA in the Pentagon, however, would operate as an “Office of Male Bashing” that would nuclearize the war between the sexes.
Sex and the Service Academies
The Report of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault and Violence at the Service Academies at West Point and Annapolis, following a similar study of 2003 sex scandals at the Air Force Academy, presages the coming turmoil. Presumptions, findings, and recommendations in this report are skewed by the panel’s over-representation of civilian “victim advocate” groups. Like-minded activists are likely to control a successor Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services (DTF-SAMS), authorized by Congress in 2004.
The problem is that civilian “victims advocates” rarely understand or respect the unique legal code of the military, which imposes serious penalties for offenses, such as “conduct unbecoming an officer,” which do not exist in civilian law. Professional victimologists routinely confuse one-sided allegations with substantiated crimes, excuse women of the consequences of their own high-risk behavior, demand punishment even when self-proclaimed victims do not report offenses to authorities, and are not satisfied with anything less than courts-martial and convictions, even when guilt is unproven.
The Service Academy Task Force recommendations reflect radical feminist dreams, starting with gender-based admission quotas to increase “acceptance” of women, even though the military has a greater need for male officers for the combat arms. Gender quotas would create an oversupply of female officers, who will demand “career opportunities” in the infantry, Special Operations Forces, and submarines.
That prospect meshes with the Task Force’s unsupported claim that academy women are harassed because of women’s exemptions from direct ground combat which, they say, should be dropped. Violence against women is wrong, you see, unless it happens at the hands of the enemy.
Task Force members want sensitivity training in “prime time,” with grades factored into class standings. Mandatory indoctrination courses would teach why it is necessary to have different physical standards, allowances, and special “assists” for female trainees. Resentment of women could increase, since everyone knows there is no “gender-norming” on the battlefield.
The Task Force Report lists a wide array of agencies ready to provide immediate support for complainants, but barely mentions the scarcity of resources available for accused offenders. The report presumes “victimhood,” but not legal innocence. This disregards the importance of due process in convicting true offenders. It also ignores fraudulent complaints, which are perceived as a problem by 73% of academy women recently surveyed by the Defense Department Inspector General.
The response of Defense Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness David Chu to the Task Force Report correctly challenges the call for “confidentiality” in preliminary legal proceedings—a demand already denied by a military Court of Appeals. Chu’s response should have rejected more recommendations, instead of implying approval that will encourage more of the same in the next task force report.
What’s worse, the Defense Department’s apparent concurrence could be seen as a green light for an Office of the Victim Advocate (OVA) in the Pentagon—a feminist boondoggle promoted in 2004 by the left-wing internationalist group Amnesty International. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) sponsored a 95-page bill that reveals expectations for the OVA, which could be established administratively, even though the legislation failed.
An OVA Director would have a license to meddle in distant “he said, she said” disputes that are local and highly emotional. Regular OVA reports on sexual misconduct would feed media prejudices, which turn even good news stories into black eyes for the military. Funded with defense dollars, the OVA would conduct surveys and summit conferences, promote feminist legislation and UN treaties, and award lucrative grants to sexual assault “experts” who are “culturally competent;” i.e., “politically correct.”
Empowered with Defense Department credentials and OVA grants, local victims advocates would enjoy special confidentiality privileges, and handle domestic violence complaints by requesting mandatory protective orders from courts. Counseling to repair troubled marriages would be barred, but presumptive “offenders” would have to undergo “treatment” and sign a release of his personal “violence history” to military commanders and law enforcement authorities.
Feminists also want to criminalize “stalking,” a subjectively defined offense that would be hard to eliminate on small, remote military installations, including Navy ships. Service members receiving any type of disciplinary action for domestic violence or sexual misconduct would be denied promotions, and penalties for conviction would include mandatory restitution of court and other costs, regardless of economic circumstances.
An uncontrollable OVA would also push for military law reforms that would criminalize sexual offenses already subject to severe nonjudicial punishment. Perpetrators would be reported to the FBI and labeled sex offenders for life.
The Slaughter OVA bill would have authorized more than $218 million over four years, but the Pentagon should not divert a single defense dollar for this purpose. Spending money on an Office of the Victim Advocate would be tantamount to feeding a carnivorous plant, similar to the one in the hit Broadway play, “Little Shop of Horrors.” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld should decline, without apology, to bring a man-eating plant with worldwide reach into the Pentagon on his watch.