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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

(Page 3)

The DOD does not maintain a military sex offender registry that can alert service members, unit commanders, communities and civilian law enforcement to the presence and movement of sexual predators. Military sex offenders are not placed in the national sex offenders’ database created by the Department of Justice.

The Navy and Marine Corps give a substantial number of waivers to potential recruits who have criminal records, including felony convictions. A 2007 study found that in 2006 the Marines gave 20,750 recruits (54.3 percent of all those recruited that year) waivers for criminal convictions. In 2005, 20,426 recruits (53.5 percent) were given them.

In 2006, the Navy gave 3,502 recruits, or 9.7 percent of those recruited, waivers for criminal conduct. In 2005, it gave them to 3,467 recruits, or 9.2 percent.

According to a 2009 study, 13 percent of men enlisting in the Navy admitted that they had raped someone. Of those men, 71 percent admitted to serial rapes. The perpetrators said that they targeted people they knew rather than strangers and generally used drugs or alcohol rather than brute force to incapacitate their victims.


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What Can Be Done to Stop Rape and Boost Prosecutions?

Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine Corps captain and company commander and now executive director of the Service Women’s Action Network, says that the Pentagon’s primary solution for ending rape is through its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), which has no law enforcement authority to prosecute or punish. She says SAPRO’s messaging to military troops is questionable, including its infamous poster that says “Ask Her When She’s Sober.”

Bhagwati strongly believes that the military should have all sexual assault cases handled at the General Court Martial Convening Authority level, where a general officer—with more experience, maturity and impartiality than a junior commander in whose unit the alleged crime occurred—would decide whether they should be prosecuted.

Another option is offered in the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (the STOP Act), introduced by Congresswoman Jackie Speier on Nov. 16, 2011. H.R. 3435 would take the reporting, oversight, investigation and victim care of sexual assaults out of the hands of the military’s normal chain of command and place jurisdiction for them in the newly created, autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office, composed of civilian and military experts.

Speier has been talking about the issue of rape in the military each week for four months on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Because of the reluctance of the military to prosecute sexual predators, Bhagwati also calls for reform to allow service members access to the federal courts for civil redress of these crimes. Currently, service members cannot bring a tort claim in federal court for rape, sexual assault and harassment cases and other crimes and acts of negligence by the military, including medical malpractice and workplace discrimination.

There is a pattern of the military using psychiatric diagnoses to get women who report sexual assaults out of the military.

According to a Freedom of Information Act request, from 2001 to 2010 the military discharged more than 31,000 service members, citing a personality disorder—“a long-standing, inflexible pattern of maladaptive behavior and coping, beginning in adolescence or early adulthood.” The military considers a personality disorder diagnosis as a non-service-related, pre-existing condition. Veterans Affairs will not provide treatment for a pre-existing condition, and the service members are left without treatment for their sexual assault trauma. Additionally, service members who are diagnosed with a personality disorder and are discharged lose GI Bill educational benefits and have to repay re-enlistment bonuses.

Military records obtained by Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic through a separate Freedom of Information Act request show that the personality diagnosis is used disproportionately on women. In the Army, 16 percent of all soldiers are women, but they constitute 24 percent of all personality disorder discharges. Women make up 21 percent of the Air Force but account for 35 percent of personality discharges. In the Navy, women account for 17 percent of the total members but 26 percent of personality discharges, while the 7 percent of the Marine Corps who are female account for 14 percent of the personality discharges. The records do not state how many women were ordered discharged from the military with a personality disorder diagnosis.

On April 16, 2012, after pressure during meetings with congressional leaders, Secretary of Defense Panetta said he would ensure that officers of at least the rank of colonel with special court-martial authority would oversee sexual assault cases rather than junior officer commanders. Although reported sexual assaults continue to rise, junior commander-initiated actions to prosecute offenders were down 23 percent, courts-martial were down 8 percent and convictions decreased 22 percent from 2010 to 2011.

Panetta also will recommend to the military that special victims units be established to handle the offenses and that National Guard and Reserve members be allowed to remain on duty after they are sexually assaulted so they can obtain treatment and support, which they currently lose when they are removed from active duty.

To learn more about rape in the military, see the film “The Invisible War.” It won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the U.S. Army/Army Reserves and retired as a colonel. She has written extensively on the issues of sexual assault and rape in the military. She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”

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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.

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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:
Fear mongering
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

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)

—-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)


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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