A familiar scene played out on Capitol Hill Tuesday in the form of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand expressing anger at the harassment of women in the military. This time, she was grilling Marines chief Gen. Robert Neller in the wake of the revelation that photos and videos of female Marines, sometimes nude, had been widely shared in online groups. One exchange, via ABC News, sums it up:
- Gillibrand: "It is a serious problem when we have members of our military denigrating female Marines who will give their life to this country in the way they have, with no response from leadership. So if you're dedicated to fixing the culture of the Marines and all the services, what do you plan to do to hold commanders responsible who fail to get this done?"
- Neller: "I'm responsible. I'm the commandant. I own this, and we are going to have to, you know, you've heard it before, but we're going to have to change how we see ourselves and how we do—how we treat each other. That's a lame answer, but ma'am, that's the best I can tell you right now. We've got to change, and that's on me."
The New York Times, meanwhile, has the story of one of the women victimized. Savannah Cunningham, a 19-year-old in Phoenix, made a nude video for a Marine she was dating in a long-distance relationship, and it surfaced in the online forums. Cunningham wasn't in the military at the time, but, despite the harassment she endured over the video, ships out for basic training next month. “Someone needs to stand up and say this does not represent the values of the Marine Corps,” she tells the newspaper. “If not me, then who?” A story in the Navy Times shows the challenge: It confirms that the scandal is not confined to the Marines, with women from at least a dozen Navy commands also specifically targeted in the online forums, likely by other sailors.