Issue: Defense and National Security

Bipartisan Group of House Members Seek Additional Information on Marine Obscene Photo Sharing Scandal

Bipartisan Group of House Members Seek Additional Information on Marine Obscene Photo Sharing Scandal

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) on Tuesday led a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis seeking additional information on the reports that as many as 30,000 Marines are being investigated as part of their involvement in distributing and commenting on obscene photos of female Marines. Walorski and Kuster are specifically requesting “an update to the investigation conducted by NCIS and a detailed explanation of actions taken to date by the Marine Corps, Navy, and DoD.”

Walorski and Kuster were joined by Representatives Lois Frankel (FL-21), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Katherine Clark (MA-05), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Tim Walz (MI-01), Jackie Speier (CA-14), and Mark Takano (CA-41).

“This conduct is wholly unacceptable and disgusting,” the members wrote. “It is blatant sexual harassment and, by admission of officials within the Department of Defense, it puts these women at risk of blackmail – sexual or otherwise – and jeopardizes our national security. Further, this incident punctuates the need for greater reform by the military services.”

The members continued, “…we know you consider sexual harassment and assault to be a serious and persistent issue with the services. It leaves men and women vulnerable to retaliation and violence. Our continued operations in the Global War on Terror and against organizations like Islamic State mean men and women are at greater risk of suffering the psychological wounds of combat. The least we can do is ensure that they are not sexually traumatized by their brothers-in-arms.”

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

March 14, 2017

The Honorable James N. Mattis
Secretary
Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Mattis,

We write to you regarding the disturbing reports of sexual harassment and dishonorable conduct by United States Marines on the Facebook group “Marines United.” As reported by the Center of Investigative Reporting, “Marines United” has thousands of followers and is populated with photographs of active-duty and veteran women. Some of these photos are themselves obscene; nearly all of the photos are accompanied by scores of obscene comments from male Marines. As of January 30, 2017, the Center for Investigative Reporting found more than a dozen women were identified by their full name, rank, and military duty station in photographs posted by some members of this group.

This conduct is wholly unacceptable and disgusting. It is blatant sexual harassment and, by admission of officials within the Department of Defense, it puts these women at risk of blackmail – sexual or otherwise – and jeopardizes our national security. Further, this incident punctuates the need for greater reform by the military services. Recent reports have uncovered additional internet message boards populated with similarly obscene photographs and comments, and run by service members across other branches. Although the anonymous nature of these message boards means it is unclear who these service members maybe, if they are service members at all, it makes us additionally concerned that these issues are not isolated to either a few service members or to the Marine Corps.

This incident is deeply disappointing – the United States Marine Corps is renowned as one of the best military services in the world. The gallantry and hard work of the men and women that call themselves United States Marines is impressive and the nation is grateful. However, with that renown and gratitude, we expect much more from the service.

Reportedly, the Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy have taken corrective action to include: the shutdown of the Facebook accounts associated with the photos, discharge from active-duty of at least one Marine, and the initiation of a formal investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. While these are important first steps, it is clearly not sufficient to address this issue – more than two weeks after certain Facebook accounts were deactivated, more photos of women were posted to this group.

We request that the Department of Defense consider further action that it would deem appropriate to correct this issue. We also request an update to the investigation conducted by NCIS and a detailed explanation of actions taken to date by the Marine Corps, Navy, and DoD, including any support services and counseling offered to the affected women. Lastly, we request DoD to ensure lesson learned for its investigations to this issue are appropriately applied across the Department.

Given the testimony by Marine Corps Commandant General Neller and yourself before Congress, we know you consider sexual harassment and assault to be a serious and persistent issue with the services. It leaves men and women vulnerable to retaliation and violence. Our continued operations in the Global War on Terror and against organizations like Islamic State mean men and women are at greater risk of suffering the psychological wounds of combat. The least we can do is ensure that they are not sexually traumatized by their brothers-in-arms.

As a retired and highly decorated Marine general, we know you take the motto semper fidelis to heart. We know you will ensure swift justice is served and that the finest traditions of the United States naval service are upheld.

Sincerely,

Ann McLane Kuster                                                     Jackie Walorski
Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress

Lois Frankel                                                                 Julia Brownley
Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress

Katherine Clark                                                           Ruben Gallego
Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress

Cheri Bustos                                                                Beto O’Rourke
Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress

Tim Walz                                                                     Jackie Speier
Member of Congress                                                  Member of Congress

Mark Takano
Member of Congress

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Walorski Statement on President Trump’s Address to Congress

Walorski Statement on President Trump’s Address to Congress

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today released the following statement on President Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress:

“In his first address to Congress, President Trump presented a positive vision and a bold agenda for our country. From jump-starting our economy and growing jobs to rebuilding our military and protecting our veterans, Congress and the president are committed to working together for real solutions that make a difference in people’s lives.

“That’s why we’re working together to fix our broken tax code and make it flatter, simpler, and fairer. We’re rolling back burdensome regulations that are crushing small businesses, manufacturers, and farmers. We’re working to provide relief to the millions of families struggling under Obamacare by repealing and replacing it with a better system that lowers costs, increases choices, and protects patients with pre-existing conditions. And we’re making sure our servicemen and women have the resources they need on the battlefield and the care they deserve when they return home.

“The president’s message was one of optimism, unity, and faith in the American spirit – just what this country needs. Congress and President Trump are off to a great start working for the American people, and I couldn’t be more excited about what we are going to accomplish together.”

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Resolution Would Condemn Lawfare Against Israel

Walorski Resolution Would Condemn Lawfare Against Israel

Palestinian Authority Seeking to Use International Criminal Court to Undermine Israel’s Right to Self Defense

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski recently introduced a resolution, H.Res. 109, condemning the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to use the International Criminal Court (ICC) to weaken Israel’s sovereignty and hinder its ability to defend itself from terrorism.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the United States is a reminder that Israel is a true ally and a fellow democracy, and that we must stand against efforts to weaken Israel’s sovereignty,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The Palestinian Authority’s actions in the International Criminal Court threaten Israel’s right to self defense and our own national security, and we should condemn this lawfare without hesitation.”

BACKGROUND

On January 15, 2015, the Palestinian Authority lodged a declaration under the Rome Statute, the founding document of the ICC, alleging Israel committed war crimes during its defensive operations in 2014 against Hamas, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. The prosecutor of the ICC then began a preliminary examination. On April 1, 2015, the Palestinian Authority officially joined the ICC and has threatened to bring two additional charges against Israel.

This abuse of international law to put political pressure on Israel outside of accepted diplomatic processes weakens Israel’s sovereignty and its right to self defense and jeopardizes long-standing U.S. policy to insist that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties.

H.Res. 109 would condemn the actions of the Palestinian Authority to join the ICC and undertake legal action against Israel as a politically motivated act of lawfare that threatens the national security of the United State, Israel, and our other democratic allies.

The resolution would also reiterate the support of the House for a resolution to the conflict through direct talks, which are threatened by the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to seek legitimacy for unilateral statehood through international institutions.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Statement on New Iran Sanctions

Walorski Statement on New Iran Sanctions

Trump Administration Imposes Sanctions After Iran Conducts Ballistic Missile Test

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today released the following statement after the Trump administration announced new sanctions in response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile test:

“The Trump administration’s decisive response to Iran’s latest provocation is a key step toward cracking down on Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorism. These new sanctions show the United States is once again ready to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its dangerous and destabilizing behavior.”

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Statement on Terrorism Executive Order

Walorski Statement on Immigration Executive Order

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today released the following statement on President Trump’s executive order temporarily suspending travel from several countries where terrorism poses a high threat:

“The United States has an important role to play in addressing the humanitarian crisis and establishing stability in the Middle East, but the safety and security of the American people must be our first priority.

“The temporary suspension of the refugee program and admission of individuals from countries where terrorism poses an elevated threat will allow our national security officials to examine the vetting process and strengthen safeguards to prevent terrorists from entering our homeland.

“I hope the administration provides greater clarity in the coming days on its implementation of the order and its review of vetting procedures.”

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Statement on Manning Commutation

Walorski Statement on Manning Commutation

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today released the following statement on President Obama’s commutation of Chelsea Manning’s prison sentence:

“President Obama’s disgraceful decision puts American lives at risk by sending a clear message that traitors will not be held accountable for undermining our national security, aiding our enemies, and endangering our troops, intelligence officers, diplomats, and allies around the world.”

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Statement on Nomination of Coats for DNI

Walorski Statement on Nomination of Coats for DNI

President-Elect Trump Selects Former Indiana Senator to Lead Intelligence Services

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.-02) today released the following statement on President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of former Indiana U.S. Senator Dan Coats to be Director of National Intelligence:

“No one is more dedicated to the safety and security of the American people than Senator Dan Coats. He is a strong addition to President-elect Trump’s national security team, and I am confident my fellow Hoosier will be an excellent leader of our intelligence services as they work to protect our nation from threats around the world.”

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Walorski Statement on Secretary Kerry Speech

Walorski Statement on Secretary Kerry Speech

“Secretary Kerry’s comments … represent yet another blow to Israel in the final days of the Obama presidency.”

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) today released the following statement after Secretary of State John Kerry in a speech defended the Obama administration’s refusal to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlements:

“Secretary Kerry’s comments today, coming on the heels of the Obama administration’s abstention on the U.N. Security Council’s disgraceful anti-Israel resolution, represent yet another blow to Israel in the final days of the Obama presidency. These comments show why we need new leadership in the White House, and I look forward to working with President-elect Trump to provide real, substantive support to our good friend and ally Israel.”

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee and House Committee on Agriculture.

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In the News: Elkhart Truth: Obama signs bill backed by Walorski to study recreation economy, another awaits his signature

 

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Obama signs bill backed by Walorski to study recreation economy, another awaits his signature

by Ben Quiggle

President Obama has signed a piece of legislation backed by U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski that provides for a study of the outdoor recreation economy.

The Outdoor Recreation’s Economic Contributions Act directs the U.S. Department of Commerce to analyze and report on the impact outdoor recreational activities have on the economy, according to a press release. The data will be used to help federal, state and local governments make more informed policy and business decisions when considering rules, regulations and laws that impact recreation enthusiasts.

… “Indiana’s Second District is the RV capital of the world, so I know how vital the recreation industry is to our nation’s economy,” said Walorski, who is also the House RV Caucus co-chairwoman. “I am honored to be a co-sponsor of the REC Act, which will ensure we have a full picture of the economic impact of these businesses and the jobs they create so we can keep this industry growing.”

NDAA BILL

Walorski also saw Congress approve another bill she had been actively working on, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. She authored a provision of the bill that will support camps providing assistance to children from military families who have experienced or live in traumatic situations, according to a press release.

… “Military families make enormous sacrifices in service to our nation and they deserve our gratitude and support,” Walorski said. “The children of fallen heroes and of veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress and addiction face unique challenges, which is why I fought for this provision in the NDAA. With the bill now on its way to the president’s desk, more of these young people will be able to attend camps that offer help, guidance and healing.”

Read the full story here.

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Walorski Votes to Strengthen Military, Raise Troop Pay, Keep Terrorists in Gitmo

Walorski Votes to Strengthen Military, Raise Troop Pay, Keep Terrorists in Gitmo

NDAA Includes Walorski Provisions to Keep Gitmo Terrorists Off U.S. Soil, Strengthen Oversight of Detainee Transfers, Boost Electronic Warfare Innovation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement after voting for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017, which passed the House by a vote of 375 to 34:

“Keeping the American people safe means giving our military the tools and resources needed to confront any threat and defeat any enemy. This bill puts our servicemembers first and provides critical support for their success on and off the battlefield.

“The U.S. military is the greatest fighting force in the world because of the brave men and women in uniform. With this bill, our troops will get the support they deserve, including their biggest pay raise in years, health care improvements, and more resources for their families here at home.

“The Obama administration’s misguided drawdown has weakened the military, and this bill will rebuild our forces and close the readiness gap. Investments in maintenance and development of equipment will ensure our military can respond to evolving threats. And my provision to boost electronic warfare innovation will help get new technologies into the field faster so our troops have the best tools at their disposal.

“The terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay are the worst of the worst, and they don’t belong on U.S. soil. This bill continues existing prohibitions on transferring terrorists to the U.S. or closing Gitmo and adds new safeguards I authored to prevent released detainees from returning to the fight.

“With increasing threats around the world, this bill will strengthen our military and help our next commander-in-chief implement a comprehensive strategy to destroy ISIS. The Senate should pass this critical bill and the president should sign it so we can keep our nation safe and secure.”

Background:

The final Conference Report to accompany S. 2943, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which was negotiated by bipartisan members of the House and Senate, is expected to reach the president’s desk in the coming days. The legislation:

  • Includes Walorski provision to improve accountability and oversight of terrorist detainee transfers by requiring U.S. government to enter into written agreement with government of any foreign nation that accepts Gitmo detainee transfer.
  • Prohibits transfer of terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to U.S. soil or closure of Gitmo detention facility.
  • Includes Walorski legislation to boost electronic warfare (EW) innovation to get electromagnetic (EM) spectrum technology to warfighters more quickly to better confront existing and emerging threats.
  • Fully funds 2.1 percent pay raise for troops required by law.
  • Provides resources to combat ISIS and support allies to counter Russian aggression.
  • Includes Walorski provision to provide children of fallen servicemembers and children of servicemembers struggling with post-traumatic stress the opportunity participate in special camps.
  • Invests in personnel, training, maintenance, and procurement to close readiness gap.
  • Reforms acquisition policies to develop military tools more effectively and efficiently.
  • Improves reporting process to combat military sexual assault and protect victims.
  • Protects National Guardsmen and reservists from Pentagon clawing back re-enlistment bonuses paid in error.
  • Caps size of National Security Council to restore oversight and limit interference with military decisions in the field.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee and House Committee on Agriculture.

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