ual assault conviction of a fellow fighter pilot now finds himself caught in a political crossfire that could change military justice; perhaps, some fear, for the worse.
Citing the general’s actions, lawmakers including Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Claire McCaskill of Missouri are pressuring the Pentagon to restrict commanding officers’ power to dismiss court-martial convictions. The lawmakers are not, however, seeking to restrict their officers’ corresponding power to press ahead with sexual assault cases that investigators may consider weak.
The result could be a further tilting of scales that some fear already may be swinging out of balance, as a military that once seemed oblivious to sexual assault now moves full force against it. At the least, what happens next will highlight the extraordinary clout that the military justice system grants commanding officers in sexual assault and other criminal cases.
Although the general’s high-profile reversal of the sexual assault conviction is seizing attention, it’s a step that’s rarely taken.