GOP Congress Won't Act on Horrifying Rape Scandal at US Airforce Base

Earlier this summer, we wrote about "The Invisible War," the documentary that exposes the deeply entrenched problem of rape in the military and the military establishment's utter failure to come to victims' aid.

Now Jezebel's Erin Gloria Ryan reminds us of a current rape scandal at a US Airforce base in Texas that gets worse and worse as more details are uncovered. If you haven't been paying attention to this story, now's the time to do so:

Earlier this year, investigators uncovered evidence that there was something rotten in Denmark; in all, 12 of Lackland's 475 instructors had been accused of sexual impropriety with 31 different female recruits. Nine of the men accused of sexual impropriety were in the same squadron. You don't have to be a mathemagician to understand that because 31 is bigger than 12, some of the instructors must have been repeat offenders. And you don't have to be a woman to think: ew.

The biggest repeat offender in the case is Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, who prosecutors claim is a serial predator who routinely targeted recruits — among the 28 counts leveled against him, 1 rape, allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct with 9 other women, 4 of whom he had sex with and 5 of whom he allegedly coerced into performing sexual favors for him by threatening their careers. His defense claims he was just a man looking for love in all the wrong vaginas, since the 2009 alleged rape wasn't reported to Air Force investigators until last year. As for the other stuff, Walker's defense basically boils down to: uh, bitches lie about rape all the time, right? It's fun for women! Like shoe shopping and baby showers.

At The Nation, Soumya Karlamangla asks why there's been so much hesitation from Congress to investigate the issue (answer: partisan stalling, military protecting "its own"):

Last week, West Texas’s Republican Congressman Mike Conoway said he didn’t think “congressional theater” would help anything. (Good to know he takes his job seriously). Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson was a little less harsh—she first said a hearing was appropriate, then backed off a bit and told Fox News that Congress should let the military finish its investigation first.

Democratic Representative Jackie Speier fears that the military investigation will work to protect its own people, including the perpetrators. The number of cases being exposed at Lackland reflects a systematic failure of military leaders to report these crimes, she said. Speier therefore is pushing for an investigation that would be conducted outside the very system that allowed these crimes to happen.

As of Monday evening, seventy-seven Congressional representatives—including one Republican, Walter Jones—had signed on to a letter that Speier sent to House Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon and ranking member Adam Smith asking to hold a hearing to investigate the incident.

But so far, she notes, one has yet to be scheduled.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at July 18, 2012, 6:19am

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