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TODAY   |  May 23, 2013

Sen. Gillibrand: Alleged assaults undermine military

Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic senator from New York who serves on the Armed Services Committee, comments on the recent reports of sexual assaults in the military.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> gillibrand is the senator from new york and serves on the armed services committee . good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt.

>> you can't blame people for shaking their heads at this. every couple of weeks there's another headline involving sexual assault or sexual harassment within the military. do you think the military in this case is simply a microcosm of society in general? or is there something deep within the culture of the military that turns it into a breeding ground for things like this?

>> well, matt, i think you're right that these allegations coming to light over and over and over again continue to undermine or confidence that the military can address these problems. what we need is better transparency and accountability and victims to know that justice is possible. and that's why so many of us on a bipartisan basis are advocating when a victim is assaulted or raped, she should be able to report those crimes directly to a military prosecutor and not have to tell her boss.

>> i understand that.

>> the chain of command .

>> that's dealing with something after it happens. what is happening in the culture of the military that causes it to happen in the first place.

>> well, i think when you have these cases occurring over and over again and there's no response and there's no accountability for these kinds of rapes and crimes, it allows the culture to continue. and that's why we think we need dramatic change. i believe that these kinds of cases are serious crimes and they have to be treated like other serious crimes and that means elevating them out of the chain of command .

>> you are a mom, i think you have boys, but if you had a teenage girl and she were to come to you and say, mom, i'm thinking of joining a certain branch of the military, would you have severe second thoughts about that?

>> well, matt, i think any parent would ask, is my child going to be safe? because more than half of these sexual assaults and rapes are actually committed against men, more than 50%. so you have men and women who are offering their lives to serve this country, to defend this country, to die for this country, and you should not be asking them to be subjected to this by the hands of their colleagues. and men and women who sacrifice so much need to be treated with respect and be protected. and this latest case at west point, someone was supposed to be looking after these young cadets, not subjecting them to this kind of treatment.

>> before i let you go, really quickly, your reaction to anthony weiner running for mayor of new york . he's a former colleague of yours from congress. is he the guy qualified to run the largest city in the country?

>> well, you know, we have a lot of great candidates in that race and i'm staying out of the primary. but i expect the voters of new york to make that decision about what's best for them.

>> i'll let that be the answer on that one. senator, thanks so much. thanks for your time this morning.