Sen. Claire McCaskill (D.-MO), who has a pending proposal for further change in the military justice system, recently responded to questions from MSNBC viewers about sexual assault in the U.S. military. Here is part of what she wrote about the competing bill (the Military Justice Improvement Act) introduced by a fellow Armed Services Committee member:
". . . My key objection to an alternative proposal by my colleague Senator Kirsten Gillibrand which would strip commanders of their ability to launch courts-martial is this: I believe such a move would result in fewer prosecutions of predators, and less protections for victims. As I noted above, it would leave a huge number of victims behind (over the past two years, there have been at least 93 cases in which prosecutors declined to pursue charges, but in which a commander launched a court martial—that’s 93 victims who would never have had their day in court if commanders lost the ability to bring a case to court-martial). It also hasn’t worked where it’s been tried—supporters of this alternative point to a number of our allies that have moved to similar military justice systems, but not one of these countries has seen the increase in reporting that proponents promise. In fact, many of our allies changed their systems to better protect the accused, not victims. Lastly, I believe this alternative would raise the likelihood of retaliation against victims who report an assault. If you’re a victim, agonizing over whether to report your crime, your foremost worry is likely to be whether you’ll be retaliated against by fellow servicemembers. So what system will better protect you from such retaliation: one in which your unit’s commander signs off on a case moving forward, or one in which outside lawyers, possibly hundreds of miles away from your unit, do so? Civilian review of the decisions commanders make is needed, but stripping commanders of the ability to move cases forward removes a key tool for protecting victims. . . ." (Emphasis added.)
Exam question: Sen. McCaskill's claim that transferring charging authority from commanders to lawyers outside the chain of command "hasn’t worked where it’s been tried" assumes that the numerous countries that have made that change did so for the purpose of increasing reporting by crime victims. Regardless of the purpose for which countries have abandoned the traditional (see George III) command-centric military justice model, have their systems "worked"? Is her claim true? Has any country that made the change reversed direction because it didn't "work" -- or for any other reason?
Readers from the UK, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Netherlands, and anywhere else where such a change has been made, feel free to comment. Real names only, please.