A proposed military sexual assault commission should be established within the office of the president, not the Department of Defense, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Jackie Speier on Thursday said.
The lawmakers in a letter to President Joe Biden urged him to not have the matter fall within the Defense Department's purview. The concern stems in part from the historic reluctance within the military justice system to pursue sexual misconduct and assault.
“We urge you to establish this commission by executive order and to base and staff the commission within the Executive Office of the President instead of the Department of Defense (DoD),” they wrote in the letter to Biden.
“DoD has longstanding institutional views on these matters and has routinely stacked similar panels with members who will toe the Department’s line. For the commission to be truly independent, balanced, and credible, it must be organized and run outside of DoD.”
The letter comes as Biden has promised to create a 90-day panel of current and former leaders in the military, as well as survivors and advocates to make recommendations for how to prevent and respond to sexual assault cases and violence as well as how prosecutions are conducted.