Very, very, very well over the years

Good news: Colin Powell isn’t at all worried about the massive rate of sexual assault in the US military. He says everything’s fine and the system is working well. That will be a huge relief to all the women who were raped in that military, especially the ones who got punished while their rapists got promoted.

Despite the high rate of sexual assault and instances of convictions being overturned by commanders, Powell said the military justice system was working.

“There will always be a case where somebody disagrees with a judgment made by somebody in the appellate procedure,” he explained. “Well, lets examine that, but lets not toss out a system that I think has worked very, very well over the years. I have been in that position as a commander. I have been the appellate authority. I have decided who should get tried and who should not get tried, and I can tell you that in my experience as a commander, we take it very, very seriously.”

That’s greeeeeeeeeat! Isn’t it? Only, he might be a little bit wrong. Maybe his view of how well it’s worked is shaped by his job, his position, his ties, his friends – by all the things that make it a super bad idea to let people at the top of an organization decide how crimes inside the organization will be dealt with. Maybe, just maybe, he has the same kind of problem popes and bishops have dealing with rape in their organization. Maybe Bloomberg TV shouldn’t be asking him softball questions but should instead be asking why the fuck the military thinks it can deal with sexual assault within its ranks better than the Vatican does.


  1. says

    I’m not 100% clear on why any different should be expected from all this. The men(!) in power will do all they can to deny the fact that there is a severe problem.

    I’m waiting for someone to come out and say the head of the committee meant to stop this military-rape issue didn’t sexually assault anyone; it’s all a lie. Or start victim blaming. I’m so surprised that I haven’t seen it yet that I’m wondering if I’m just missing it, because it’s damn near impossible to believe it hasn’t started already…

    Colin Powell will continue to join the voices saying (in many more words) “bitchez ain’t shit and their autonomy don’t matter to us” because he, and all of them, are pathetic tools.

    The only thing that will change it is a sea-change in who runs the military and how.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    But, but, he’s Colin Powell!

    He’s just as well-informed, truthful, and correct about this as he was when he pushed Bill Clinton into promoting the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy tarfu, and when he later supported sold us GW Bush’s war on Iraq.

    Surely we should all defer to the judgment of a man – in uniform, sometimes! – with such an impressive track record.

  3. Ulysses says

    This is not the first time Powell has whitewashed military scandals. He was the initial investigator into atrocities committed by the Americal Division, which included My Lai. As an article in puts it:

    A letter had been written by a young specialist fourth class named Tom Glen, who had served in an Americal mortar platoon and was nearing the end of his Army tour. In the letter to Gen. Creighton Abrams, the commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam, Glen accused the Americal division of routine brutality against civilians.

    Glen’s letter was forwarded to the Americal headquarters at Chu Lai where it landed on Major Powell’s desk.

    Major Powell undertook the assignment to review Glen’s letter, but did so without questioning Glen or assigning anyone else to talk with him. Powell simply accepted a claim from Glen’s superior officer that Glen was not close enough to the front lines to know what he was writing about, an assertion Glen denies.

    After that cursory investigation, Powell drafted a response on Dec. 13, 1968. He admitted to no pattern of wrongdoing. Powell claimed that U.S. soldiers in Vietnam were taught to treat Vietnamese courteously and respectfully. The Americal troops also had gone through an hour-long course on how to treat prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions, Powell noted.

    “There may be isolated cases of mistreatment of civilians and POWs,” Powell wrote in 1968. But “this by no means reflects the general attitude throughout the Division.” Indeed, Powell’s memo faulted Glen for not complaining earlier and for failing to be more specific in his letter.

    “In direct refutation of this [Glen’s] portrayal,” Powell concluded, “is the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.”

    Powell’s findings, of course, were false, though they were exactly what his superiors wanted to hear.

    Powell was also instrumental in getting the UN’s approval for Bush’s Iraq Fiasco.

    So I’m not surprised he minimizes rape in the armed forces. He’s continuing a pattern going back over 40 years.

  4. Gretchen Robinson says

    The only way things will change is if perpetrators are held responsible, criminally responsible, including being given a dishonorable discharge. After all, if convicted (which itself is problematic), a perpetrator has brought dishonor on the whole US military and is guilty of “conduct unbecoming” a soldier of whatever rank. If convicted of a rape against a citizen of another country, say a woman in Iraq, a soldier would have brought dishonor upon the victim’s country. Statistically, raping a woman inhabitant almost never results in a charge, let alone a conviction. So these women have no recourse.

    A leader in Japan recently defended his nation’s WWII record of ensuring the presence of female (of course) sex slaves, otherwise called “Comfort Women.” The dehumanizing of these women, we now know, is just war-as-usual. Wars have always been about male violence, giving men the power to be law unto themselves. I once had an elderly Jewish man in a writing class who told a story of being a sargent in a German POW camp. He found one of the men speaking to a pretty women in the women’s side. He pulled out his gun and shot him dead. He bragged that his CO didn’t punish him, saying just “Don’t do it again.”

    Powell was always an apologist for the worst disasters of the Bush administration; now he’s an apologist for the military. No wonder Chuch Hagel was attacked by his own party, the Republicans, when he was nominated. The Republicans and the military wanted to keep the cover-up going. If the military chaplains weren’t so predominantly evangelical, they might have been ones doing the truth-telling on behalf of women who go to them. But no, their loyalty is to the military and church hierarchies.

    The only good news I have is that women I know who were raped in the service (once several times over her time in the service) are receiving some excellent help, at least in the Massachusetts VA. A fellow humanist in NYC, says issues around rape in the service is still underground there. Professionals are not providing treatments that might lead to some level of recovery.

  5. sailor1031 says

    Ishould have thought that, even to a ludicrous partisan as Powell, 28,000 cases per year is conclusive evidence that the system is not working at all well. But then, I can’t imagine there is much interest in anything this discredited person has to say.

  6. janiceclanfield says

    Well you know, he’s a very important person and who are we to question his judgement? After all he was a general, and we’re just uppity women!

    Really, have a sense of perspective here.


  7. says

    Yes, it was on PBS just a couple of weeks ago, and I posted about it and you commented to make some very salient points. Your friend and her husband are extraordinary. The links work!

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