Congress Takes Aim At Revenge Porn In The Military

WASHINGTON – Months after news of the Marine Corps’ revenge porn scandal broke, it appeared to many observers and critics little of substance was being done about the problem. It appears the inaction may be coming to an end, as the U.S. Congress is reportedly including an anti-revenge porn provision in its upcoming defense authorization bill.

According to the Military Times, the language regarding revenge porn was first included in a House draft of the budget earlier this summer, and the Senate is now following suit.

“Whether it’s in the barracks or on the internet, degradation and intimidation of our service members is a serious crime that threatens good order and discipline, and we’ve got to give our military the tools it needs to treat it that way,” said Sen. Clare McCaskill, a sponsor of the new Senate provision. “This will enable us to better go after these bad actors and ensure justice for victims of these exploitative crimes.”

Back in March, USMC Commandant General Robert Neller issued a video statement emphasizing revenge porn is thoroughly antithetical to the Marine’s ethos and esprit de corps.

“When I hear allegations of Marines denigrating their fellow Marines, I don’t think such behavior is that of true warriors or war fighters,” Neller said. “If changes need to be made, they will be made.”

Neller also called the actions of the Marines posting revenge porn “embarrassing to our Corps, to our families and to the nation.”

In the months since Neller issued the statement, the punishments handed down to offenders from the Corps have been far too light in the eyes of anti-revenge porn activists and others who have called on the military to take action on the issue. According to the Military Times, the most severe punishment doled out to date was a 10-day confinement, reduction in rank and dismissal from the service issued after a summary court-martial in July.

The relevant section of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (bill number HR 2810) provides for criminal charges to be levied against any servicemember who “knowingly and wrongfully broadcasts or distributes an intimate visual image of a private area of another person” who “does not explicitly consent to the broadcast or distribution of the intimate visual image.”

Another co-sponsor of the new provision, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, said the language inserted into the NDAA “makes it clear that sexual assault, or harassment of any kind, will not be tolerated within our military.”

“This legislation holds service members accountable for their actions, and encourages all service members to conduct themselves with integrity and respect,” Ernst added.

It’s not clear when a vote on the new NDAA will occur, but it is bound to be a lengthy process, in part due to disagreement over other provisions in the bill which are unrelated to the revenge porn provisions.

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