The new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has a little
less unbridled testosterone in it than previous versions of the annual legislation
thanks to Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who addressed two of her
pet peeves in the law signed by President Barack Obama just before Halloween.
After U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named her in
October to a powerful committee that negotiated the 2010 NDAA with senators,
Sanchez succeeded in fulfilling her promise to require federal investigations
into whether American soldiers are adequately combat ready and appropriately
punished when they rape women.
The Comptroller-General now must probe how each
branch of the military investigates and adjudicates cases involving soldiers accused of rape.
Sanchez has called the issue “critical” because she believes the military has done a poor job punishing rapists and an even worse job assisting the victims of sexual assaults.
Caroline Hogan, the congresswoman's deputy
press secretary in Washington, D.C., told me today that there's “an
epidemic problem” of soldier rape going unreported and unpunished because of
institutionalized barriers. Earlier this year, the Pentagon disclosed nearly an eight percent increase in sexual assaults committed by soldiers over previous periods. But perhaps what alarmed Sanchez more was the revelation that rapists
were allowed to remain in the armed forces with little or, in some cases, no serious punishment. She
says this fact “points to the ongoing, underlying issue” of certain heterosexual male
soldiers harboring hatred for women.
When military leaders report back to Congress on
the topic by
next Halloween, Sanchez expects them to supply accurate
information about assaults, the investigative process and punishment
policies. They must also present an “action plan” aimed at reducing sex
OC's lone Democrat in Congress also used the NDAA to require
the Pentagon to file a March 2010 report outlining combat readiness,
particularly related to female soldiers and support staff.
“The issue hasn't been adequately addressed yet and we know
women are seeing combat situations more and more,” said Hogan.
For her work on the NDAA, President Obama invited Sanchez–the highest ranking woman on the House Armed Services Committee and a constant symbolic thorn to the OC Republican Party–to
the White House for the bill-signing ceremony.
She faces election challenges next year from Republican state Assemblyman Van Tran and businessman/ex-Marine Quang X. Pham.
–R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.