Reports of sexual assault in the U.S. military have surged this year, up nearly 50 percent compared with the same time period last year. This could be either good news or very bad news for the Pentagon, depending on how Congress interprets the upswing, says the Christian Science Monitor. Military officials who have been grappling with the problem of sexual assault within the ranks – and promising Congress they will do better – hope that lawmakers see it as a sign of victims' increased confidence in a system that is encouraging them to come forward.
Legislators losing patience with the Pentagon may be less inclined to view the spike in reports charitably. This week, a bipartisan group of senators called for a change in the way the military prosecutes sexual assault. They're proposing legislation mandating that instead of commanders deciding whether a rape charge has merit, an independent judiciary will. Such a change to the military's chain of command would be unprecedented. The Pentagon opposes it, saying that taking authority away from commanders would undermine good order and discipline.