On Thursday, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) along with Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced legislation that would protect military whistleblowers who come forward with allegations of sexual assault and other wrongdoing.
The Legal Justice for Servicemembers Act is similar to a bill drafted by Boxer in the 80s, the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, which passed, but has not “kept pace with protections afforded to civilian whistleblowers,” according to a press release from the legislators.
Said Rep. Speier in a statement:
Military whistleblower protections are meaningless unless they actually protect military whistleblowers. When the majority of whistleblowers report retaliation and the Pentagon’s processes fail to prevent it, it’s time to update the law. We need to give DoD Inspectors General both more authority and accountability, create a meaningful appeals process, and hold both retaliators and the supervisors who are complicit accountable.
The new legislation would allow servicemembers who report wrongdoing to request investigations by a Department of Defense investigator general, rather than a service inspector general who works within their branch of the military. It would also reform military corrections boards to ensure survivors receive restitution, and require DOD investigators to consider discipline for retaliation.
Senator Wyden said,
Whistleblowers in the military who so bravely step forward to shine a bright, necessary light on fraud, waste and sexual abuse often do so at great personal and professional risk. That’s not right and it doesn’t serve the public interest. I believe servicemembers who blow the whistle need the strongest possible protections from retaliation, and that’s why I’m proud to work with Sens. Boxer and Markey on this important legislation.
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