A Northern California congresswoman is deploying a mix of old and new political techniques in an aggressive effort to change how the military handles sex crimes.
The concerted campaign by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, aims to remove military sex crimes investigations and prosecutions from the standard chain of command. Even if it falls short, the campaign already is a case study in how 21st century political momentum is built.
"This silent epidemic is over," Speier said of military sexual assault Thursday.
This week, Speier introduced a bill that would assign all military sexual assault cases to a new Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office. Another new Pentagon office would oversee all sexual assault-related prosecutions.
Speier says the new bureaucracy is necessary for sexual assault-related cases because the current system is "woefully inadequate" and overly influenced by the chain of command.
"Men and women who have been sexually assaulted in the military have come to realize that 'military justice' is an oxymoron," Speier said at a crowded news conference.