Friday, May 30, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Friday, May 30, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri bombs Falluja General Hospital again, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigns, a culture of secrecy exists at VA that goes beyond secret waiting lists, and much more.

Starting in the United States with the news that Eric Shinseki has resigned from his post as Secretary of the VA.  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and is the former Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following statement today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT: Murray Press Office (202) 224-2834
Friday, May 30th, 2014                                                          

Murray Statement on the Resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki

(Washington, D.C.)  Today, Friday, May 30th, 2014, Senator Patty Murray made the following statement on the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.
“There are serious problems at the VA that won’t be solved simply by replacing the Secretary, but I am hopeful that this leadership change will spark structural, cultural, and personnel changes, from the top of the organization to the bottom, to make sure our veterans are getting the care and support they expect and deserve.

“I will be working closely with President Obama and his Administration as they look for a new Secretary who will provide strong leadership for the Department and who will work with me and others to make much-needed changes and improvements at the VA. This transition is also a time for every employee at the VA to step up and do everything they can to help veterans and work toward a culture of transparency as changes are being implemented. And as these changes are being made, I will work with my colleagues in Congress to make sure these improvements are being supported.

“I stand with veterans and families in Washington state and across the country in thanking Secretary Shinseki for his years of work for veterans and for his lifetime of service to the United States of America.

Kathryn Robertson
Deputy Press Secretary 
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510


Anna Mulrine (Christian Science Monitor) notes the periodical's own poll (which is still taking place) had shown the American people wanted Shinseki removed from his post and that the call from elected officials had been increasing as well:

Calls throughout the week had increased for the VA chief to step down. Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona – who once lauded Shinseki’s willingness to speak truth to power – joined that chorus “with some reluctance,” adding that if Shinseki did not step down voluntarily, the president should “fire him.”
Along with the Republican chairmen of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, Democrats had also begun to call for Shinseki to step down. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, up for reelection this year, pointed to a “systemic problem that this leadership has not been addressing.” Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) of Illinois, who lost both legs in the Iraq war and who served as a VA official, said Friday it was time for her former boss to resign.

Mulrine, like others, then goes on to miss the point when quoting various 'experts.'  She's not the only one missing the point.  Congress is far from perfect.  But Congress isn't responsible for this.

They're supposed to provide oversight, yes.  Maybe the press could have helped there.  I'm not referring to breaking scandals and certainly CNN and Drew Griffin and Anderson Cooper and others did their part and then some on that.  But I'm talking about the silence that allows nonsense about Congress to be said.

Right now, Bernie Sanders is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and Jeff Miller is the Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.  But I can remember Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray having to demand the truth repeatedly in hearings, I can remember House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bob Filner calling VA's Allison Hickey out for her efforts to lie to the Committee.  I can, for example, remember all the times Chair Patty Murray had to demand the VA supply her with the facts regarding what was happening at Madigan Army Medical Center.  (What was happening?  Among other things vets with PTS were not being classified as such in what was clearly a 'cost-saving' measure by the government.)

I realize that outside of the Associated Press, few major outlets bother to show up for the Congressional Veterans Affairs Committees hearings.  I grasp that.  And the cost cutting excuses for that.  But are you so stupid you don't notice a rare night hearing?  One took place Wednesday night, the House Veterans Affairs Committee called VA officials before it.

Why?  What was that hearing about?

It was about Congressional requests that are not being honored.  Congress is supposed to provide oversight.  But since 2009, the VA has stonewalled Congress and outright ignored requests for information.

You can blame the White House for that since it's over the VA.  I don't know that I would or wouldn't.  But it is a problem and everyone should be aware of it now and the White House should order the VA to start complying with all Congressional requests as, in fact, they're legally supposed to.

I'm not seeing where you blame Congress and say they weren't doing their job when they're requests for information are not honored even when they're made via subpoena.

Eric Shinseki took over the VA in January 2009.  When he did, he was immediately informed that one of the signature pieces of legislation, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, was in trouble.  While it was due to be implemented in the fall of 2009, Shinseki was told in January of 2009, the VA couldn't handle it, checks were not going to be going out.  That's when you inform Congress there's a problem.  He didn't.  He hired an outside contractor to examine the system and the results were the same: When the program was rolled out in the fall, many veterans would suffer because the system was inadequate.

Did Shinseki inform Congress then?


He stayed silent.  And nothing was said as fall rolled around.  Then a few problems emerged, a few veterans weren't getting their checks.  These semester checks would cover tuition, rents, etc.  And a few were having problems.  The VA immediately blamed the veterans and the educational institutions.  Their mouthpiece on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Corinne Brown, announced she'd been watching MSNBC at three in the morning and it was time for these institutions to get their act together.

It wasn't the colleges.

And as a few turned to many, finally in October, Eric Shinseki revealed that he'd always known there was a problem.  He revealed that October 14, 2009 when he appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The press didn't care to report that revelation.  Even those who were present ignored it.  For months after that, veterans continued to suffer.  Some families had to postpone Christmas because all the money was being used to cover bills as a result of their still waiting on checks they should have received in August and September.

This was outrageous.

Some of the liars in the press today want you to know about the antiquated computers at VA.


Thanks for that 2006 flashback.

Shinseki, at the start of his tenure as VA Secretary, was tasked with determining whether or not his computer system would change -- one had to.  DoD and VA were supposed to offer a seamless transition for those going from service member to veteran.  How?  They'd do it with electronic records.  But the two systems couldn't communicate -- this was all determined before Barack Obama was sworn in for his first term as President of the United States.  So one of the two would have to change.

Shinseki chose not to.  He also sat on this issue that Congress poured billions of dollars into.  He's been Secretary of the VA since 2009.  This was supposed to have been handled immediately.  Robert Gates told him to do what he wanted and the Pentagon would adapt.  Then Leon Panetta became Secretary of Defense.  He told Shinseki that whatever Gates had already approved was fine.  And still nothing.  Then Chuck Hagel becomes Secretary of Defense.

Something finally happens.

Hagel's not shedding any tears today over Shinseki's departure. Not after Shinseki tried to blame him to Congress.

April 11, 2013, Shinseki appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee which was irritated by the budget request coming to them late and not coming to them in full because, as they pointed out, what the administration submitted did not include all the costs -- even if you set aside issues of discretionary spending, the VA 'budget' request was a joke.  Ranking Member Mike Michaud noted the money that was being poured into the VA -- others did as well but he's the one who asked for a status on the electronic health record.  And this is where Shinseki chose to lie.  There was no progress, he admitted, but that was because Chuck Hagel hadn't added any input.

What the hell was that?  It's so high school cafeteria.  Did he think it wouldn't get back to Hagel that the House Veterans Affairs Committee was vocal about the fact that there was no progress on this issue despite the funds provided for it in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and now 2013?

It had nothing to do with Chuck Hagel.  Good for Hagel that he wasn't going to stay under the bus.  He complained to Barack who had a sit-down with Hagel and Shinseki to ensure that a decision was made and there was no 'confusion' about the status.

If you're not getting what a little bitch move Shinseki pulled before Congress, grasp that Hagel was confirmed as Secretary of Defense on February 26, 2013.  Not two months later, Shisenski was blaming a multi-year delay to starting the program on Hagel.

You think this delay doesn't matter?  Iraq War veteran Travis Fugate testified at the Wednesday morning hearing. From his opening statement:

 In 2006, I went for a follow-up visit with an ENT doctor at the Lexington VA Medical Center. The nurse brought him a big stack of my paper military medical files, and he told her, “There’s absolutely nothing relevant that I need in there.” He told me the anatomy of my sinuses was so disfigured, he didn’t know what in my face tissue was natural and what was artificially implanted. He said he wouldn’t feel comfortable doing any further procedures, I trusted that decision because my experience was that the medics and Army doctors are all professionals, and I was used to putting my faith in them.
          For two years, things were OK. I went back to community college, and I started being active with many different disabled sporting events and programs where I had chance to meet other injured OIF veterans, and attended the Blinded Veterans Association national convention in August 2007 and returned to other BVA OIF peer group meetings since.
          Then in November 2008, three weeks before finals, I had to call my dad at 10 p.m. to tell him I thought I had one of those headaches that the doctors at Walter Reed warned me about. They said the damaged sinus and orbit area around my left eye could lead to a severe infection in area around my sighted eye. He took me to the ER, and I was in the hospital for 10 days with a serious infection. The upper left hemisphere of my face was so swollen that my eyelids swelled together, that was the last time I had any sight.
          In December I had been told that when sinus infections cleared maybe some vision would return like before. I strongly believe today the lack of having my eye surgery records in an electronic joint registry where both VA and DOD medical staff can find out immediately what treatments and surgery was done could have made a difference.

          In January, I returned to Walter Reed, where the doctors would have better access to all my surgery trauma records. I saw a retina specialist, and within five minutes, he’d scheduled a five-hour surgery the following day for detached retina and bleeding in left eye. Then, I have had more surgeries, the last one March 6th 2009 where they again tried to save my damaged retina because of another detachment but it failed and have no eye sight since then.

He strongly believes "the lack of having my eye surgery records in an electronic joint registry where both VA and DoD medical staff and find out immediately what treatments and surgery was done could have made a difference."  2008?  That's before the transition was supposed to take place.  If everyone had gotten on it (the electronic record) sooner, his vision probably could have been saved.  It's very sad that everyone didn't and that he lost his vision.  But this could be any number of veterans with the same issue or others.  That's why the electronic medical record is needed.  And the system's still not up and running.  How many more have to suffer?  The failure to implement this system falls on Shinseki.

In "Another VA scandal brought to you by Shinseki," Kat reports on the Thursday morning House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing:

What was being discussed?
The Eye Injury and Vision Registry of for DoD and the VA.  DoD has added 23,663 names to the list.  The VA?
One name.
Let me repeat that, one name.
1 name.
As VA admitted in the hearing, they had taken in $6.9 million in funding for this program.  Excuse me, that money was supposed to be the budget for 2010 all the way through this year.
And they've had the money and they've done nothing.
But they are looking to hire an independent contractor.
That's supposed to be good news.
Benishek's comments were about the five years VA's had money for this and failed to do anything but add one name to the list.

Do you really think the only failure at VA currently is the issue of secret lists?

If you're a gasbag or a reporter who never does any work, you may think so.  Those of us who've done the work, who've attended these hearings, know the wait list is only one of many failures at the VA.  We also grasp that the VA has operated under a culture of secrecy.  They tell Congress there's progress, Congress requests proof of that, proof is not supplied and, if the veterans community is lucky, a press expose reveals the VA is lying.  Without that expose, the Congress is repeatedly stonewalled by Congress.

With the exception of field hearings, I believe I've only missed three Congressional VA hearings since 2006. I'm really not in the mood for lies and I'm especially not in the mood for lies from people who didn't bother to ever attend even one hearing in the last eight years.

On the Thursday morning hearing, Ruth reported on it in "Blind veteran describes computer issues" and I covered it in yesterday's snapshot and it's noted at the end of "VA did not make providing quality care a primary goal" and "A few comments on Senator Richard Burr."  We were going to cover it today. Hopefully, we'll have room and time.  But Shinseki's resignation and the press spin means we have to go the second hearing yesterday, yesterday afternoon's hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs.

First, let's note the statement Chair Jeff Miller issued today:

May 30, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Following the announcement of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation, Chairman Jeff Miller released the following statement.

"Everybody knows Eric Shinseki is an honorable man whose dedication to our country is beyond reproach. I thank him for his legacy of service to our nation. Unfortunately, Shinseki's tenure at the Department of Veterans Affairs will forever be tainted by a pervasive lack of accountability among poorly performing VA employees and managers, apparent widespread corruption among medical center officials and an unparalleled lack of transparency with Congress, the public and the press. Appropriately, Shinseki is taking the brunt of the blame for these problems, but he is not the only one within VA who bears responsibility. Nearly every member of Shinseki's inner circle failed him in a major way. Those who surrounded Shinseki shielded him from crucial facts and hid bad news reports, in the process convincing him that some of the department’s most serious, well documented and systemic issues were merely isolated incidents to be ignored. Eric Shinseki trusted the VA bureaucracy, and the VA bureaucracy let him down.”

“Right now, VA needs a leader who will take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the department’s culture of complacency with a climate of accountability. VA’s problems are deadly serious, and whomever the next secretary may be, they will receive no grace period from America’s veterans, American taxpayers and Congress.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

I think that's a fair assessment.  I don't think many -- if any -- believe Shinseki set out to deceive or that he was trying to damage veterans.  He fought some members of Congress (Senator Jim Webb) to get those suffering from Agent Orange the help they need.  That's a major accomplishment and no one can take that away from Shinseki.  We gave him credit for that.  When there were some veterans groups attacking him because a veteran got arrested and would be prosecuted by a relative of Shinseki, we stated here that Eric Shinseki is responsible for his role as Secretary of the VA and he is not responsible for family members carrying out actions in other jobs and positions.

Shinseki couldn't provide oversight.  He was said to be to easy to please.  He didn't dig for answers.  The next person who heads the VA has to be determined and needs a new staff who will repeatedly probe various programs and various medical centers to ensure that problems within the VA are known at the top.

Now for yesterday afternoon's hearing.  We're going to the second panel and to Assistant Inspector General for Audits and Evaluations Linda Halliday.

Disability claims.  How's that going?  Shinseki had said it would be down to 125 days by 2015 -- Fiscal Year 2015 which means October of this year.  Mere months away.  And the number of days currently to process these disability claims?  249.

But, somehow, by magic?, in five months, that 249 is supposed to drop to 125.

This is part of the VA problem and where's the press on it?

With Quick Start claims-processing, Halliday explained, VBA had managed, over the last two years to drop down to 249 days -- from 291.  But in five months, they're going to magically halve the current 249 and have 125?

That's going to be some feat to pull off.  (No, they're not going to meet the deadline.)

If you paid attention to her testimony, you saw how it might happen.  VBA wanted to shave off 41 days -- just not count them -- and claim they didn't count.  That's the sort of nonsense that goes to a lack of accountability.  VA gets the numbers they want by lying about the numbers.  That needs to stop immediately.  You can't shave off 41 days, pretend they never took place, just because it will give you better numbers.  Honesty is a core value that needs to be stressed, taught and reinforced at the VA.

Quick Star has not improved the number of days for these claims -- despite having "quick" in the title -- but maybe it's done something with accuracy?


In 2011, the accuracy rate was 62%.  Last year, they raised that to 69% which might seem good except the October 1st deadline, when Fiscal Year 2015 kicks off?  Shinseki had pledged Quick Start would have reached 98% accuracy by that point.  So in five months, watch for it, the accuracy rate is supposed to jump from 69% to 98% on Quick Start's disability claims.

Quick Start aside, the VA's shell game with the backlog.  We called that out when it was presented in a hearing as the big new plan that was going to save every veteran.  Briefly, slap a ruling on a claim and then the claim isn't in the backlog!  No, but it may be in the appeals system.  And that's what's happened.  That is now the fast growing segment on disability claims.  The press is beginning to notice but mainly because VSOs are raising the issue.  But when this came up and we called it out here I noted at one point that if an error was made in the favor of a veteran it should be like a Monopoly card "Bank error in your favor."  And this led to e-mails about how the government couldn't afford it and I noted that the more likely scenario was veterans getting underpayment not overpayments.  In her testimony, Halliday addressed inaccurate claims that had been re-decided.  Here are the amounts through July 2012:  veterans were overpaid $463,000 and veterans were underpaid $2.8 million.

You can keep that mind as we note this exchange from the hearing. Chair Jon Runyan is the Subcommittee Chair.

Chair Jon Runyan: As you know, while VBA is reporting timeliness an equal, if not greater, concern is the accuracy for each veteran. VBA is looking at hundreds of thousands of claims. And the veteran is looking at one and only one. Ms. Halliday, accuracy, as highlighted in your testimony, is a serious concern.  I'd like to also ask you a question about of VBA's quality components Start.  You noted that VBA's Start program has several classification errors such as benefit entitlement, decision documentation/notification and administrative.  Mr. Murphy [VA's Thomas Murphy, from the hearing's first panel] responded to an inquiry of Star's failure to count error incidents with potential to effect veterans benefits such as when a claims folder lacked required evidence including medical examination or an opinion needed to make an accurate decision.  Can you comment on that?

Linda Halliday: Yes, I would appreciate that.  The OIG [Office of Inspector General] uses a broader definition of what constitutes an error.  We report errors that effect veterans benefits as well as those that have the potential to effect veterans benefits in the future if left uncorrected. We think this is important.  It's a veteran-centric approach. We do not feel that the Start program counts all of its errors.  There is a disagreement between what OIG considers an error and how VBA calculates its accuracy rate. I have a couple of examples here that we think might help you understand.  VBA does not consider an incorrect disability evaluation to be a benefit entitlement error unless the error impacted the veterans overall combined disability evaluation.  However, OIG would identify this case as an error because it has the potential to effect the future benefits if left undetected.  And that also has a corresponding effect -- it could effect other programs too as the ratings change.  Also, cases where VBA staff simply do not request or significantly delay requesting the mandatory routine future examinations to determine whether the temporary 100% disability rating should continue, we clearly call an error.  We see a significant financial impact associated with not managing those claims appropriately.  

Okay, right there is where the gas bags need to be paying attention.

Cooked books?  How did they get to that point?

With a long-standing practice of weaseling the truth.

The OIG is the watchdog for the VA.  If they're calling it an error, it's an error.  Stop fighting the terms and definitions.  More plainly: Stop lying to make yourselves look better.

Tolerating these lies encourages more fudging and more dishonesty.

No Department should lie.  But with the VA, the lies just never end.  The next Secretary of the VA should make the announcement that what the OIG defines as an error will be the same definition that the VA will use.

Some of the gas bags are blaming it on a "vacationing Congress."  Gasbag Brent Budowsky (at The Hill) insists,  "Congress, deeply enmeshed in another one of its many ludicrous recesses of vacationing and fundraising, successfully demanded the head of the general." While Memorial Day was Monday, I've sat through three Congressional hearings this week.  The House Veterans Affairs Committee -- in full and in Subcommittees -- has held three hearings this week.

Wednesday night's hearing was covered by me in "VA did not make providing quality care a primary goal" and the Thursday snapshot, by Ruth in "VA censors who appears before Congress," by Wally in "Time for a criminal investigation (Wally)" and by Ava in "US House Rep Corrine Brown should retire."

In those hearings and ones prior, the reality of the VA was on full display.

We're talking about errors and they can have serious and lasting impact.  The IG found fault, as Halliday testified in the Thursday afternoon hearing, with VA's training of employees on Quick Start.  VA insists that is not the case.  Remember that when the problems with Quick Start continue.

El Paso is poorly served because it doesn't have a fully functioning VA medical center.  This was noted in the Thursday morning hearing.  US House Rep Beto O'Roarke shared the convoy approach it took to get a prescription filled -- a large amount of travel.  That's an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

The US needs more jobs.  The White House should be creating more jobs at VA.

In that Thursday morning hearing, US House Rep Phil Roe explained why VA doctors were so overloaded. It's not just the issue of the number of patients.  They're also having to do things that a clerical employee could do.  Roe talked about how, at his own medical practice, he could spend 50% of his work day on these tasks -- such as data entry.  The VA needs to be hiring more employees.  This is needed to reduce the workload of doctors (and allow them to focus on patients) and it's needed in a country where so many seeking work are confronted with a lack of jobs.

Obama says "change of culture" needed at VA.

Gasbags want to talk VA?  They can start with the issues above.  There are many more but the above are reality based issues as opposed to spin and conventional wisdom.

I've already offered my opinion that Iraq War veteran and former US Rep Patrick Murphy should be named by Barack as the next Secretary of the VA -- he's got the energy to tackle this, he's got the desire to and he has experience as a veteran and as a member of Congress.  Whomever gets nominated, the issue is not just the secret list.  There is a huge problem with accountability, there is a huge problem with honesty.  The VA needs to start complying with Congressional requests and it needs to stop inventing new definitions for terms like "error" to make itself look better.

Briefly to Iraq.  Since January, Nouri al-Maliki has been committing War Crimes.  He claims that terrorists are among those people in Falluja.  Falluja is a populated city with many civilians.  Nouri has been bombing it which is collective punishment -- when you attack a populated area because of the presence of 'evil doers.'  It is a legally defined War Crime.  The US government recognizes it as such in treaties and laws.

Yet they've looked the other way while Nouri's carried out War Crimes by bombing civilian areas of Falluja killing and wounding civilians.

A White House friend insists they are not looking the other way and notes Vice President Joe Biden's call to Nouri earlier this month as proof since Joe stressed the need to ensure the protection of civilians.

Well the call obviously did nothing because Nouri's continued to target civilians.

But I'll be fair and note that point -- much fairer than the White House is to Iraqi civilians.

NINA reports Falluja General Hospital has been hit with 7 mortars.  This is not the first time Nouri has bombed hospitals in Falluja or even the fist time that he's bombed Falluja General.  Also, NINA reports that Nouri's bombing of the residential neighborhoods of Falluja have left ten people injured today -- two of which were children.

In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports an Aljazeerah roadside bombing left 1 "explosives expert" dead, 2 corpses were discovered in Sharqat (Sahwa), an attack on a Ramadi police station left 2 fighters dead and two more injured,  and 3 women were killed in Wlowash Village when assailants stormed homes,.  All Iraq News adds that 2 Sahwa were killed in Muqdadiya with a third left injured,

Ban Ki-moon is the United Nations Secretary General.  Nickolay Mladenov is his Special Envoy to Iraq.

We noted Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's honor earlier this week but it's worth noting again.

Moving over to England where the Iraq Inquiry has still not released their report from their now years ago hearings.  The big delay of recent months has been correspondence between former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bully Boy Bush.   Rowena Mason (Guardian) reports today:

Tony Blair should ask the Chilcot inquiry to publish his correspondence with George Bush about the Iraq war, as releasing only the "gist and quotes" will allow suspicions to fester, Sir John Major has said.
The former Conservative prime minister, who lost power to Blair in 1997, said it was a pity the full papers were going to be withheld by the Cabinet Office.
The Chilcot inquiry has been accused of allowing a whitewash after it struck a deal with ministers to publish the gist of letters between Blair and Bush, but not the full correspondence.
The publication of the Chilcot report has been overdue for several years, with discussions in recent months focusing on 25 notes from Blair to Bush and 130 records of conversations.

Robert Fox (The Week) argues the report should be released as is:

According to The Independent, the report is likely to be emasculated because of America's refusal to allow publication of crucial notes and conversations between George W Bush and Tony Blair (and Gordon Brown when he succeeded Blair).
This is because Washington claims all records concerning the President of the United States are privileged and not for disclosure in any Tom, Dick and Harry inquiry.
The upshot is that the passages relating to Bush and Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq will be 'redacted' - inked out on the page. The same is likely to happen to mentions of some 200 meetings with the Blair cabinet and its committees.
There is now a real likelihood, according to sources close to the Chilcot committee itself, that the report will not be published at all. It is already woefully over deadline, and hugely over budget, costing just shy of £9 million.

The editorial board of the Guardian offers, "Sir John Chilcot has fought tenaciously for the right to publish the evidence he believes he needs to substantiate his report's conclusions. But there is one other person who could change the game. As the former prime minister Sir John Major has pointed out, it is in Tony Blair's gift to overrule the Cabinet Office and give permission for his correspondence to be released. He has said repeatedly that he wants the report published as much as everyone else. He should make it happen."

We'll close with this from Anita Little's "NEWSFLASH: One More Reason Why Military Women Need More Protection from Sexual Assault" (Ms. magazine blog):

Though lawmakers such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have done much in the past year to bring the issue of military rape to the forefront of the U.S. Congress, a recent case of sexual assault in the Army shows that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Staff Sgt. Angel M. Sanchez, who did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been accused of sexually assaulting and harassing a dozen women soldiers during his tenure with the military. A litany of charges against him, starting as early as 2011, were read in a pretrial hearing this week on a military base in Missouri. The charges ranged from forcing a woman soldier to perform oral sex in the barracks to spying on woman soldiers as they showered. Sanchez allegedly used his position to silence his victims, threatening them with dismissal from the Army if they didn’t meet his sexual demands.