Authority over sexual assault cases in the military must be taken out of the chain of command.

The opposition to removing decisions on cases of sexual assault in the military from the chain of command is dismaying. The conflict involved in situations in which officers rule on certain types of case is obvious: the desire to protect the image of the service involved, the expectation that members of the military have each other’s backs, bias in favor of soldiers over civilians or foreign nationals. I am not suggesting that members of the military are inherently untrustworthy. I am suggesting that they are human beings.No human being can be trusted to rule consistently rule fairly when she/he has a conflict of interest.
Further, in cases of sexual assault, as the leadership of the military is still male-dominated, gender bias is a factor. Men and women have different views of sexual assault and men tend to not understand the point of view of women or of female sexual assault victims. I am not saying that all military men are are insensitive to sexual assault victims, rather that SOME men, in society in general as well as the military, are insensitive. This can result in miscarriage of justice as well as discourage victims from seeking justice.
A case in point is the Tailhook Scandal. A number of women claimed to have been sexually assaulted at a party held by the Tailhook Association, a group aircraft carrier pilots. The prosecution failed, however, because upper echelons dragged their feet long enough that evidence dried up and witness memories faded. This was investigated and an Admiral Frank Kelso, who was at the party,was found to be the highest-level source of the obstruction. He was initially reduced in rank, but a furor ensued. Some opposed the punishment because he was a war hero and praised corrective actions he had taken. He was subsequently allowed to retire with his rank in tact, a slap in the face to the victims. At that point, women pilots began leaving the service.
This is precisely why the current military sexual assault bill’s other corrective action, forbidding higher officers from overruling punishments by tribunals or lower officers is inadequate. Higher officers can prolong investigations until prosecution is impossible and members of tribunals may improperly acquit. The fact that many victims of sexual assault in the military are men, thus bringing the issue of bias against homosexuals to bear, introduces further complication.
Sexual assault is an example of an issue which the military must not be allowed unchecked authority over. Yes, discipline and authority must be maintained in the military, and most soldiers are honorable, but they are human beings, and as such should be held accountable like everyone else. This is underlined by the fact that the military works for the citizens of this country and not the other way around. We need security, but we also need accountability.