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The Dark Side of the Prestigious Marine Barracks

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Posted on May 8, 2012
U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Dengrier Baez

The Silent Drill Platoon, which lives and performs at the Marine Barracks, is one of many sources of pride for the Corps there.

By Col. Ann Wright

According to Marine Corps lore, semper fidelis, a Latin phrase for “always faithful,” commands Marines to remain a “brotherhood, faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to country, no matter what. Becoming a Marine is a transformation that cannot be undone and once made, a Marine will forever live by the ethics and values of the Corps.”

The Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., is the official residence of the commandant of the Marine Corps. It is the home of the Marines who are the ceremonial guard for the president during official U.S. government functions and the security force for the White House and Camp David. The Marine Band, also located at the Barracks, is known as “The President’s Own.” The Barracks is the showplace of the Marine Corps with its Silent Drill Platoon giving weekly military precision performances for the public during the busy summer tourist season.

But the Marine Barracks has its dark and ugly side. It is also the home of officers and enlisted men of the Marine Corps who have been accused of sexually harassing, assaulting and raping female Marine officers and enlisted and civilian women who work there.

According to information provided by the Marine Barracks Washington legal adviser at the request of the Senate Armed Services Committee minority counsel, from 2009 to 2010 three female Marines and two civilian women reported to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) that they had been raped by male Marines. Two of the female Marines held high-visibility jobs at the Barracks and said they were raped by senior officers.

During the same period, two other female Marines and two other civilian women reported that they had been sexually harassed by Marines at the Barracks.

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Second Rape Lawsuit Filed Against Marines, Navy and DOD

On March 6, 2012, attorney Susan Burke filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of eight military women—four Marines and four Navy members—who said they were raped while in the service. Two of the four female Marine officers served at the Barracks and alleged that they had been raped by Marines assigned there. The two, Lt. Ariana Klay and Lt. Elle Helmer, spoke at a news conference announcing the lawsuit and on national TV shows afterward.

This is the second lawsuit filed in a little over a year against the Department of Defense on the issue of rape in the military. The first lawsuit was filed on Feb. 15, 2011, and was brought by 15 female and two male active-duty military personnel and veterans. They accused the DOD of permitting a military culture that fails to prevent rape and sexual assault and alleged that it mishandled cases that were brought to its attention, thus violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.

On Dec. 9, 2011, U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady dismissed the suit, saying the sexual assault allegations were “troubling” but that Supreme Court and other court decisions had advised against judicial involvement in cases of military discipline. O’Grady cited Gilligan v. Morgan, decided in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which determined that “matters of military discipline should be left to the ‘political branches directly responsible—as the judicial branch is not—to the electoral process.’ ” O’Grady said, “Not even the egregious allegations within the plaintiffs’ complaint will prevent dismissal.”

The March 2012 lawsuit names current and former secretaries of defense and military chiefs of the Navy and Marine Corps as defendants. It alleges that “Although defendants testified before Congress and elsewhere that they have ‘zero tolerance’ for rape and sexual assault, their conduct and the facts demonstrate the opposite: They have a high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks, and ‘zero tolerance’ for those who report rape, sexual assault and harassment.” The lawsuit alleges that “Defendants have a long-standing pattern of ignoring congressional mandates designed to ameliorate the armed services’ dismal record of rape and sexual assault. As but one example, defendant [Leon] Panetta [secretary of defense] continues to violate the law requiring the Department of Defense to establish an incident-specific Sexual Assault Database no later than January 2010.” More than two years later, the database still does not exist.

“Rather than being respected and appreciated for reporting crimes and unprofessional conduct,” the lawsuit alleges, “plaintiffs and others who report are branded ‘troublemakers,’ endure egregious and blatant retaliation, and are often forced out of military service.”

Lt. Ariana Klay

According to the lawsuit, Klay, a Naval Academy graduate, served as a protocol officer for the Marine Barracks. She alleges that while there, she was sexually harassed by a lieutenant colonel, a major and a captain. She said she was gang-raped by a Marine officer and his civilian friend, a former Marine. Klay alleges that the Marine officer threatened to kill her and told his friend he would show him “what a slut she was” and “humiliate” her.

After she reported the alleged rapes and subsequent harassment, the Marine Corps investigation ruled that she welcomed the harassment because “she wore makeup, regulation-length skirts as a part of her uniform and exercised in running shorts and tank tops.”

The Marine Corps did not punish any of those who were accused of sexually harassing Klay. One of her alleged harassers was granted a waiver by the Corps that permitted him to get a security clearance despite accusations of hazing and sexual misconduct against not only Klay but many others. He was selected to be in a nationally televised recruitment commercial while he was still under investigation. According to the lawsuit, the Marine Corps featured Klay’s alleged rapist and a harasser in the Marine calendar.


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LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, May 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

There is nothing “prestigious” about these arrested adolescents.

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By Graham ASH-PORTER, May 10, 2012 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

Well so much for all that praying in the Military. They
are acting no better than the general Public. Shame on
them. Semper Fidelis my foot.

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By aluminumfoiilhat, May 10, 2012 at 1:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If I never see another “semper fi” I’ll be happy. All
oer the Web is this “semper fi”. I don’t know which are
posers and which are marines and don’t care. Soldiers
need to come off the pedestal. A marine is no more a
hero than I am or my dog.

Report this

By Jeanine, May 9, 2012 at 10:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sounds like its time to take the prosecution authority for crimes of rape and murder OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE MILITARY AND PLACE IT IN CIVILIAN COURTS PERIOD.  I’d like to see those officers smart mouth a local District Attorney like that.  If a crime scene in the civilian world were tampered with those responsible would go to jail for a LOOOONG time.  It is painfully obvious that the military ‘chain-of-command’ is totally unwilling to handle these cases correctly.  Either that—or the rape victims could sponsor a ‘blanket party’ for the rapists—and then conveniently forget the incident.  If the Pentagon remains criminally negligent—then these women should do what they have to—to get even.

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By litlpeep, May 9, 2012 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

A hearty Thank You, Colonel Ann Wright!

It is far beyond a reasonable time for the United States of America to take responsibility for its own military culture, and, in particular, reverse the tradition of leaving the management of that culture to those addicted to killing, pillaging, plundering, raping, maiming, and/or, doing all of the above on behalf of our largely ungoverned corporations operating at home and abroad.

Hopefully, also, this will help out those of us who call repeatedly call into ever more prominent question the entire anti-Constitutional military practices of making the Armed Forces of the United States the primary tool for expanding and protecting the entire globe on behalf of irresponsible corporate executives, agents and employees; all the while our Commanders in Chief and their underlings refusing to follow the Constitutional mandate for civilian supervision of the military.

Must the USA go into the immortal & infamous “junkheap of the past” with the nation’s primary epitaph saying something like, “born and thrived in unruly destruction of others and other cultures; died in wild individual and collective self-destruction”?

All the irresponsible and violent behavioral military and political culture Col. Wright describes so eloquently is, ultimately, a condemnation of us all for continually tolerating the US Military’s apparently unmanageable violent outrages.

Talk about a “loose cannon on deck.”  This old military saw precisely describes the entire Department of Defense, armed to the teeth with the most violent armaments the wealthiest nation on the planet can purchase, rolling around the globe without any noticeable adult supervision.

If the reactionaries want to cut some pure crap out of the government, why do they not, for starters, cut the entire Department of Defense?  This would have the side benefit of making the budget a little more manageable along the way.

But the primary achievement would be to give the whole world an enormous sigh of relief from the planet’s most pronounced terrorizing apparatus.

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By ChrisML, May 9, 2012 at 1:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The American Empire:
Plunder
Profit
Fear mongering
Bullying
Violence
and Rape.
There have, of course, been other Empires
But we are talking about the US Empire here.

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THX 1133 is not in the movie...'s avatar

By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., May 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm Link to this comment

@mrfreeze, May 8 at 5:33 am Link to this comment
With all due respect - Where exactly do women who
enlist in the military think they are going?

The military IS about killing, pillaging, raping and
destroying. Why would women expect to be treated with
professionalism, respect or equanimity in the armed
forces?

I realize I might sound like a sexist jerk when I say
this, but I find it hard to feel sorry for any woman
foolish enough to go into the military. Women are not
welcome there. They never have been and they never
will be.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sums it up rather well, IMO.

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By traynorjf, May 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment

@ vector56

And you’re qualified to diagnose, I presume.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, May 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

“It will be interesting when one of these women kills (I hope he dies very slowly) one of those bastards. “

traynorjf; sounds like some one needs therapy?


“Having served in the Navy and worked alongside Marines on deployment that is not the core function of our military services.  The core function of the military is to protect the constitution, citizens, and interests of the United States.  “

steve in DC; If your core function is to “uphold” the constitution, why do you allow those who piss on it to go unpunished?  I speak of Obama killing of US citizens without a trial (a basic core violation of due process); the corporate owned Congress suspending out civil rights; NSA spying on every cell phone call and e-mail…  Your oath was not to Obama, the Congress or the CIA, but to the principles of the constitution. Have you read it at all (the thing you swore to up hold)?

Also, the actions of the military in general are making US citizens less save! Killing millions of other people and handing over their natural resources to multinational corporations tends to create more enemies than you guys can murder! News flash, We the people of this country don’t need you to defend us; we can defend ourselves if necessary!

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By traynorjf, May 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

It will be interesting when one of these women kills (I hope he dies very slowly) one of those bastards. It’s surprising to me why they have escaped retribution.

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By berniem, May 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

This ceaseless glorification of the military, our, oh so esteemed warriors, is sickening! These people are dehumanized and indoctrinated into dehumanizing others for the sole purpose of bringing them to heel or dispatching them from the realm of the living! They serve no purpose other than to protect wealth, property, and power while violently going about the business of appropriating any and all things deemed of value by those of wealth, power, and property. As time goes on and conditions here deteriorate further, these brave and noble souls will turn on us every biy as violently as they have against all of our historical enemies.

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By Marian Griffith, May 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@MrFreeze
—-With all due respect - Where exactly do women who enlist in the military think they are going?—-

You are in effect blaming the victim here.
A woman should be able to have any job without being subjected to (increased levels of) sexual harassment and rape.
Otherwise we are locking up women in their homes because society can not be bothered to keep in check the men who are actually causing the problems.

It is not the women who are being the cause of the assaults. We can not accept that ‘they asked for it’ or ‘they should expect it because of the work environment’.
It is simply unacceptable that women are getting assaulted and raped so often, and beyond outrageous that rather than trying to prevent or deal with it, their commanders (who are supposed to protect them) make them out to be the problem and try to get rid of them by whatever underhanded means available and protect the criminals.

So even if the army is all about violence and killing (which is quite besides the truth in and of itself) it still does not excuse what is happening.

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By gerard, May 8, 2012 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

The entire psychology of war is against decency, respect, honor, mercy and/or common sense.
  It is sanctioned insanity from top to bottom, Although everyone in the military is constantly ordering somebody to do something, at the same time they are being ordered by somebody else to do something else, and ALL of it pushing 24/7 toward ultimate inhumanity. There’s no motivation to say “no” to any of it because if you don’t obey, you are punished—usually unfairly.  If the “game” of war was seriously questioned, someone would have to have the guts to say “NO” to ALL of it.
  Fortunately, war appears at present to be killing itself off along with the people it kills and abuses. In the “natural order of life” war is unsustainable. Of course it will take the “natural order” with it when it goes—unless ... unless humans refuse to commit suicide when the crunch comes. So far, the sheer force of life itself has won out, but sometimes it’s been a tight squeak—if you judge from evidences discovered by anthropology and geology.

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By Big B, May 8, 2012 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

I tend to agree with MrFreeze. What exactly did you think the military was all about? On the first day when they hand you a gun and practice shooting at human shaped targets even the dimmest among us should be able to figure it out.

Then of course there is the psychological aspect of it, bullets and bombs are shaped like penis’s for a reason. The ultimate victory is to penetrate a prostrate opponent.

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By steve in DC, May 8, 2012 at 8:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@vector56

I disagree.  Having served in the Navy and worked alongside Marines on deployment that is not the core function of our military services.  The core function of the military is to protect the constitution, citizens, and interests of the United States.  Granted poor leadership can turn that into unending war and carnage, but there is more to it.  A lot of time is spent simply defending the US.  Keeping shipping lanes open.  Performing humanitarian aid work.  Acting as good will ambassadors for the US.  Killing is only a means to the end for part of the job.

The truth is that military life is stressful and not at all compatible with proper sexual relations.  Spending months in camps or on ships with an insane male to female creates insane situations.  Affairs, sexual relations across ranks, rape, and prostitution are all illegal in the military.  Yet they all happen with alarming frequency.  Men rape women.  Officers sleep with enlisted.  Women prostitute themselves for extra cash.  Women get pregnant to get out of a deployment.  And that’s not even counting the amount of same sex assaults and issues that happen among both genders.

Getting formally disciplined for any of these things is career ending.  Thus any sort of accusation of prostitution or rape, or any sort of command discovery of sexual activity at all turns into a giant mess.  Where all involved level insane accusations at others to get them off the hook. It turns into a giant “he/she started it”, “he/she forced me to do it”. It can be next to impossible to figure out what happened and who’s telling the truth.  We had an incident on a ship that I won’t name where a prostitution ring was run out of a back area in the hangar bay and then in the flag staffs second quarters on the second bridge.  Of course, we know it was known as the “love shack”, but once we had to do something about it a giant mess happened.

I don’t have a solution for this and the Navy has certainly tried to fix it, but it really isn’t completely fixable.  And it’s made far worse now with the continued deployments and damage being done to service members.  Stressed people are far more likely to do something stupid.

Of course, these sort of problems are far less common among same sex units, but other issues are there.

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mrfreeze's avatar

By mrfreeze, May 8, 2012 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

With all due respect - Where exactly do women who enlist in the military think they are going? 

The military IS about killing, pillaging, raping and destroying. Why would women expect to be treated with professionalism, respect or equanimity in the armed forces?

I realize I might sound like a sexist jerk when I say this, but I find it hard to feel sorry for any woman foolish enough to go into the military. Women are not welcome there. They never have been and they never will be. The few who have been successful and have found “fulfillment” are the lucky ones.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, May 8, 2012 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

“But the Marine Barracks has its dark and ugly side. It is also the home of officers and enlisted men of the Marine Corps who have been accused of sexually harassing, assaulting and raping female Marine officers and enlisted and civilian women who work there.”

I met Col. Ann Wright at the Detroit Social Forum; I like her more than most. That being said , I must disagree; the Marines core function is to end the lives of other human beings, anything beyond that pales in comparison.

“Heart breakers and life takers”; “Widow Makers”.


What makes them so “dishonorable” is that they murder “millions” to annex the resources of others for global corporations; hold the ground where the Natural Resources are located (killing countless locals) and take credit for defending us against the god dam threat they and their corporate masters created by attacking the “others” in the first place!

So, to assume that these “Baby killing Corporate Stooges” would give a rat’s rear end about a woman’s right not to be violated is nonsense!

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By balkas, May 8, 2012 at 5:25 am Link to this comment

in short, ruling class teaches soldiers communism. when they come
home or delist, ruling class teaches them fascism!

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