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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

December-18-96

Congressman in Charge of Army Sexual Harassment Investigation Graduated from Citadel

The Congressman in charge of the investigation of the Army's sexual harassment scandal, Representive Steve Buyer (R-IN), graduated from the then all-male military college The Citadel, has served in the United States Army and continues to serve in the Army reserves. In 1995, while the Citadel was in the midst of a legal challenge of its state-funded all-male tradition, it awarded Buyer as its Man of the Year. Given his career in the military, many inside and outside of the military have begun to question his objectivity. Karen Johnson, vice-president of the National Organization for Women and a retired Air Force Lietenant Colonel commented last week to the Indianapolis Star, "When you're in the military as Buyer still is, whether male or female,your first loyalty is there and never will you paint it in a bad light. As a female who was in uniform for 20 years, I think the problem is large, serious, and Aberdeen is just beginning."

Aberdeen refers to the base where 25 drill sergeants are under investigation for sexual harassment and a captain and drill instructor have already been charged with rape and obstruction of justice. Buyer has already said that he believes the problem with the military is due to "a few bad apples" and not to a widespread problem in the Army. His solution to the problem - more military spending. He believes the problem is due to a breakdown in the Army's chain of command, itself a result of cuts in military spending. A 1995 survey by the defense department found that sixty percent of women in the military reported being harassed while on duty. This, and other scandals such as the Tailhook incident, counters Buyer's statements. Johnson also commented, "No commander wants to look bad. They have an investment in looking good, so they often talk an accuser out of a complaint. We recommend a system of reporting outside of the chain of command."

Media Resources: Associated Press - December 18, 1996


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