tv Senators Press Marine Corps Commander on Accountability Over Nude Photo... CSPAN March 18, 2017 3:54pm-6:14pm EDT
sharing nude photos of female service members without their permission as part of the "marines united" facebook group and associated website. after 2.5 hours of open questioning, the committee recessed into a closed session to discuss law enforcement sensitive matters related to the ongoing investigation.
. i want to thank each of our witnesses for coming here today to offer their testimony. e committee is saddened and disturbed by the allegations that female marines have been subjected to online harassment and abuse including denigrating comments and nonconsensual sharing of images in some cases by fellow marines. our witnesses are here today to inform us about these allegations and what is being done it to address the impact on the service. especially those marines who have been victimized. all who love the marine corps are embarrassed and outraged by these allegations. none more so than our witnesses today. general kneller, since the allegations were made, you have been unequivocal in communicating to the men and women you lead that behavior like this is unacceptable and fundamentally opposed to the values of the marine corps.
i want to reemphasize his message to the marines last week. the members of this committee share your hope that marines who have been victims of harassment and abuse will report that conduct to their chain of command or victim leader council. it is our expectation that leaders willrs and support those victims, protect them from reprisal, and you all in the power to prevent the abuse of any marine. at this time, we do not know how many marines were involved in these allegations of harassment and abuse. or what motivated those to engage in such disgraceful and unprofessional behavior. weo not know the origin of the imagesmalearin of fe on the "marines united" facebook group. some may have been taken or shared without their consent. we do not know how many marines have been targeted. this committee expects the department of navy and senior marine corps leaders to provide
updates on the investigation into these issues when appropriate. as well as keep the committee apprised of any corrective action the marine core may take concerning policies and procedures when it comes to the education of marines. we realize much of this information may be law enforcement sensitive due to ongoing criminal investigations. for that reason, immediately following this open hearing, the committee will proceed to a closed-door session to hear from our witnesses on the sensitive matters. while there may be still much we have to learn, there is much we know already. we know the actions of those marines involved in "marines united" did not reflect the culture and values of their service. ,ot only courage, honor commitment, but also mutual respect for all their fellow human beings. values that are upheld and lived
each day by the overwhelming majority of marines. that is why americans are proud of our marine corps, because the conduct of most marines is deserving of of our -- deserving of our praise and respect. we know the challenges we see in our military often reflect challenges seen in broader society. in this case, we are all confronting the unique challenges posed by the proliferation of social media which like any technology is an enabler. good, decent things but also troubling things. the same technology that allows one marine group to create a support group for their bodies suffering ptsd could be used by another group to humiliate and demean their fellow female comrades. at the same time, we know that those who serve in the profession of arms must be held
to a higher standard. they would not want it any other way. we know the marine corps cannot sight and win the nation's war if marines do not respect and trust one another. this is not just a matter of , but aersonal conduct matter of military effectiveness. that is why any marine who disrespects a fellow marine dishonors the values of the marine corps and harms its mission to defend the nation. this kind of behavior is unacceptable for any marine or any member of the united states armed forces. the actions of our civilian and maritime that military -- military leadership at all times must demonstrate that such misconduct will not be excused or tolerated. finally, as members of the committee are aware -- these allegations surrounding "marines united" are currently under
investigation by the naval criminal investigation service. i would ask the committee to reserve any questions related to law enforcement for the closed section bash session to follow. i do not want -- related to law enforcement to be saved for the closed session to follow. i do not want the questions to jeopardize the investigation into this criminal behavior. >> thank you for this opportunity to the marine corps to give an initial briefing of what they know and do not know about some of the of port behavior used by some marines on the "marines united" facebook group. this issue is so important that it weren't this type of attention. we must take care to ensure that
we do not put the commandant of the marine corps in a position to make statements that may be seen as disrupting the criminal investigation. of nonconsensual posting photos of female marines is repugnant and just plain wrong. all of us have had -- all of us who have had the privilege of serving in uniform know the importance of in a cohesive -- of a cohesive unit that will look after each other. haveervice members must confidence that their fellow service have their back. there is simply no room for the behavior that humiliates or degrades a fellow servicemember. in my view, the marine corps must attack this problem. it should begin with a good, thorough investigation to to hold thoses
accountable for criminal conduct. i will be interested to hear if the nci s has the experience and ability to fully investigate this matter. if not, we need to make sure we can get them those resources and expertise. once the investigation is complete, command will have the obligation to take appropriate action. the marine corps must also address the culture that allowed and facilitated the conduct on the "marines united" website. i would be interested to hear about the actions that commanding officials take to correcting that culture. forward to theok session. >> we will begin with you secretary stokley. read, thankember you for this hearing. investigation
these past several weeks into the toxic, predatory behavior harbored by the website "marines united" as a covered an egregious breakdown of discipline. a violation of our core values and what amounts to an insider threat. some unknown number of marines or former marines, when denigrating their fellow marines, undermine the very honor and integrity and unit cohesion that has long underpinned the strength of the marine corps. "marines united" is a bellringer. the emotions that surround this -- we-- anger, repulsion are committed and dedicated to fixing this issue. our actions are threefold. first, we must take care of the marines who have been victimized. counseling, legal services, and beyond. strict confidence inside and out the chain of command. every gmail will be made available to those seeking support.
the members ofte and hold those" accountable to the high standard by law, policy, and code. of the 30,000 members reported to be on "marines united," we do not know how many are active-duty marines or how many participated in this denigrating affair. getting to the facts will take time. the navy criminal investigative service is working every lead and cap available to overcome the challenges we are running into you posed by nameless, faceless predators and cyber bullies on social media. perhaps most importantly, we will get at the root underlying issues to eradicate this cancer. a task force formed by the commandant is central to this effort which today involves senior officers. it will expand to include the expertise called upon by problem. in the long run, it will require
commitment from every tear in the marine corps. again, this will be a long road, but we are on the road for good. we will share with the committee our efforts, or course, our progress on that course as we move forward. and woman whon takes the oats to support and defend our constitution, who puts on the uniform and puts their life on the line to defend our way of life at home, is owed the utmost trust and respect of every american. any breach of that trust and respect must be dealt with immediately, decisively, unceasingly before, like a cancer, it steals from us our strength, spirit, and honor. we will make immediate, decisive, and unceasing -- we will be immediate, decisive, unceasing, in the investigation into this matter.
miller -- neller? gen. neller: members of the committee, normally, i take this opportunity in front of the committee to tell you about the extraordinary actions taken by your marines around the world. today is different. some, i'm here to discuss horrible actions that have taken place on social media primary against the women of our marine corps. the release of information was first uncovered by a combat wounded marine reporter who posted a story about the illicit photo posting and derogatory comments of female marines. that is what we are here to talk about. some actions pervert our culture and bring me here. as i am sure you all received the recent news involving actions on the "marines united" facebook site with a mixture of emotions.
anger, disgust, outrage. formarine corps has served 40 years and has a problem. i struggle with labeling the problem we face. some say we have a problem with our culture. some say it is an insider threat. my natural inclination is to resist this amount because i believe in my heart that the marine corps culture is based on our core values and it represents who we are. the online at behavior of some individuals, whether they are truly serving marines or former marines or others who wandered in, have attacked our marine corps values and egos. we draw strength -- values and e thos. we draw strength from the team. from day one, it is about the team and not the individual. some seem to have forgotten that every member of our team is equal. every marine commands the respect of their fellow marine. we proudly advertise the transformation that occurs at
officer candidate school. first, the methods by which we recruit, and we train citizens into marines. the transformation is not perfect in all situations. can lose their way. they can fail to comprehend our ethos. at every point of leadership, we need to do a better job of sustaining this leadership. we must attack any behavior that has a corrosive effect on good order and discipline of our marine corps. i came into the marine corps with the problems of the 70's shortly after vietnam -- drug use and race relations were tearing us apart. some of you were there then and river this. the commandant at the time took a firm stance to get our marine corps back to true north. he improved our government standards and made it his personal mission to address those who cannot or would not rise up to our standards.
i believe we faced a similar situation today. the vast majority of marines passed in present are good and esent marines past and pr are good, decent people. i am calling on all marines to stand against this destructive conduct. to stand in support every marine to demonstrate to the american people who we really are. honor, embody our ethos, courage, commitment. when any marine goes into action, they are not high standards. we are all fully committed to the mission including in the garrison and eric's back here at home. -- barracks back here at home. there cannot be any bystanders. everyone has a role to play to make sure our team remains strong. i would take this opportunity to speak to every female in our marine corps past and present. i am asking a lot right now, but i am asking you to trust the
leadership of the marine corps that we will take action. i ask you to trust me personally as your commandant. i am outraged that many of you have not been given the same respect when you earn the title of marine. i know you are not asking to be labeled as victims out of a desire for pity. i know what you do for our marine corps and our team. you have contributed in the past 16 years of, in iraq and afghanistan. years of combat in iraq and afghanistan. to the marine of them are -- to the mail marines, you are still marines. i want you to ask your selves -- how much more do the female members of our marine corps need to do to be accepted? lostt not enough when we female marines in combat?
all killed at the hands of our enemies? you toll it take for accept these marines as marines. i'm committed to making this right. i need all marines equally committed. we have to commit to get rid of this perversion to our culture. enough is enough. so, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, we will take action to correct this stain on our marine corps. i have no illusions or delusions at how difficult this will be, but we are not going to stand by and watch it. it cannot go on anymore. i am prepared to answer your questions. neller, i want to thank you for that statement. i thk itro is stnd powerful. frankly, it is reassuring to this committee about your commitment. sergeant major green, do you have any comments to add?
green: thank you to all members of the committee and congress. i want to thank all of you for letting us come here today and explain what we are doing. i can tell you that no one is more outraged than the leadership you see sitting before you today. this tears at the very fibers that brought us together as we fight for the nation's freedom and liberty. protecting our victims. we will allow the legal system to go forward and bring those who have committed these crimes before the commandant and leadership and hold them accountable. we are researching our policies .nd reinforcing the gaps i've prepared to do whatever it takes to protect not just enlisted marines but all marines and those who serve. thank you for the opportunity. >> thank you, sir.
thank you for your outstanding leadership. has the marine corps in part on an effort to identify victims? as far as the , there have been a small number of victims or people who claim they were targeted by this website. .e are talkingo those nci s is working investigaons on those. the number is too small. we need others to come forward. >> what are you doing to encourage others to come forward? gen. neller: this hearing is an opportunity to ask marines to come forward. not just marines who may have --n the demised, but marines who have been victimized, but marines who are aware of this. i think that is starting to
happen. we are are registering to get more information in from other marines -- other mail marines who know something has happened. they are upset about this as we are. we had a press conference the other day where i asked marines for their help. we have gone out to the leadership and told them the path where they can direct marines. i have directed commanders to go out and talk to their marines about this. i've told him that if anyone comes forward, they can be directed towards a victim advocate, to the chain of command, and they will forward this. our marinese up on webpage. if you are aware of anyone being harassed in cyberspace, we ask you to contact that number and humility rest. andow -- that phone number email address it i know -- email
address. ncis has done the same. >> can you assure them there will be no reprisal? they have my word that leadership will not take retribution against them. i know that is a big issue. that is why i know it is difficult. i cannot guarantee -- one of the problems with social media is that there is a certain level of anonymity out there. push back on any of this, you immediately get attacked by the anonymous crowd. i think for many of us who do not participate in this type of behavior, it is foreign to us. i will admit. i am not a social media person. weezer use it to talk about the good things that marines do, but placelike this are not a
that i think any of us would frequent. even for the outer was thick and positive things that marines united was set up to do -- help veterans deal with whatever issues they had coming back from the fight. so, there is risk. i cannot protect people on social media. i can assure them that the command -- the chain of command will take action. i can direct commanders to take any allegations made and follow them through. report them to ncis doing their investigation. this is not an excuse. our ability to manage what happens on social media is an issue. i will say though -- when we assume this type of behavior, and we have gone to the organizations that host this, they have not been very helpful in taking these sites down.
when they do that, we see them move. they moved. itould prefer to get into during the closed discussion about the legalities of certain things that happened in cyberspace. there are certain things about the law that are not going to be hopeful to us in getting accountability. that is not an excuse, but there are some things i think we need your help with. >> i agree. generalstapley, can use social media to hold personnel accountable for the transmission or receiving of photos without the consent of the person? >> yes, sir. we are actually trying to run to ground each instance an example we can find where we have the perpetrator, we have the
evidence that has been preserved , and we can hold them accountable in accordance with articles 120 and 134. >> obviously, general neller pointed out where the challenges we face which is one website morphing over to another site after shutdown. >> yes, sir. it is nameless, faceless, it is difficult to identify the .ndividuals on these websites as we work with the owners of these websites, we have to deal with first amendment rights and privacy act issues. we are pushing it as far as we can to get every piece of evidence we can find. the key to this is having individuals come forward. toare trying to reach out not just get the word out for people to come forward but provide an environment where they feel safe and secure to bring their case forward.
>> senator reid? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to ask one question before the close session later. general neller, this is not the first experience recently that the marine corps has had. cyber3, there was bullying of female marines. how did you react to that issue? what lessons have you learned? how are you applying those lessons to this situation? and neller: we went back looked at that. we looked at all the actions. i could give you a long list of all the things we did as far as addressing sexual assault, changing values-based training at all of our different levels of training. there was a policy written about in 2010.n social media it was not focused on this type of thing. we are in the process of issuing out today and updated policy on
conduct on social media, and what is acceptable and not acceptable. what is a violation of a lawful order under article 134 or 120 c. so, there was a lot of training we did, but looking back at it -- i can only speak for myself, senator. we were focused on the issues of sexualssault wervery impoant at that time. i do not think we got at the social media thing to the level that we are going to get at it now. i put myself into that category. i went back and thought about all the things we talked about. all the things that the commandant did with our heritage believes and values. how we treat each other, the things we have done since in , evensing alcohol abuse the message i have put out after the first of this year stating we need to treat each other better. when i looked at it, i did not
have in my mind this particular event. so, i have no excuse for that. we are dealing with a lot of things. now, this is front and center. is -- victimsf it were afraid to come forward, because if they came forward they were going to be attacked tenfold on social media again. i think for those who do not participate in this domain -- i think we are ignorant. i am not ignorant anymore. possibility for that. we were focused on other things we were trying to get at. i do not think social media was absent from that, but i do not think it got front and center like it should have at the time. >> think you very much. recognizehink we all
the seriousness of this issue. it goes to the very heart of the marine corps. not just the marine corps, but every service. you cannot have individual marines or soldiers are coast who are marginalized because of gender or other characteristics. we have a lot of work to do. >> general neller, the first quote i heard from you was that those who are involved will be held accountable. i know your background. i know you. i have every confidence that that is what is going to happen. i have no questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. statically --
stackley, a previous report the record was not fully able to take care of sexual harassment allegations. can you speak to any progress on that? case -- can you tell me specifically what? -- in numbera term of initiatives to have gone out that defined the nature of sexual assault. this gets down to everything from anonymous surveys to interviews to capturing and running support -- reports to ground. i could provide examples of things to have been done, but when we look at the statistics and results what we are tried to do is correlate measures that were taken with result we are getting. frankly, we are challenged to do that. , andtatistics move around
within the department of the navy i am trying to append exactly what actions we are taking the give us positive results so that we can grow those actions versus a number of initiatives that we cannot quite correlate to the results we are looking for. >> i would argue that onof the challenges is that people are not being held accountable in a way that sends a strong message to others that they serve with. the message that this is unacceptable behavior. 2014 workplacee study, the marine corps has the highest rate of sexual assault among the service branches. i know we are not talking about sexual assault directly as we often think about the definition of the word in the scandal. but i do believe there is a
correlation between the two. can you just respond to why you think that is? i appreciate your statements and the statements of everyone here about needing to address this issue, but understand that this committee has heard those kinds of statements for as long as i had been on the committee and i think much longer. that hard to believe something is really going to be done when we hear this repeated again and again, and we see these kind of situations again and again. so, why should we believe it is going to be different this time? gen. neller: as i stated earlier, senator -- this particular issue -- we could
talk about the numbers, but i suspect the numbers went up when 20 14rted our training in when we decided to go after sexual assault. we talked about how they would flatten out and then go down. they have flattened out, but they have not gone down. i could give you other statistics and i could track every single one of these allegations to tell you how they have culminated in some sort of action or no action. why is it different now? i think we address the action of individuals, but i think the theer issue is with in culture. we have not addressed the fact that all marines are marines. the female marines are a small group in our corps.
for whatever reason, there are still some number -- and i do not think this is separate from the sexual assault issue, but ofs issue of objectification women or misogyny, however you want to articulate it, this bad behavior is tied to a way how some male marines look at women marines in the corps. i think we can fix that. i think we can hold those accountable. we have to tell commanders that there are things you can do within the ec mj if parameters are met. this is a very difficult problem. on the sexual assault thing -- i am not going to give up on any of this. i still think that i could give you the demographics and that is
an excuse. the percentage of marines, there ages, all that. we are a young force, ok. still, marines are expected to conduct themselves at a higher level. expectect that and i that. i think out of allf another problem we have to deal with. i think we will get after that, but this is all about our leaders going out there and setting an example. i think all abuseses another lel we cap -- alcohol abuse is another level we have to deal with. i think we will get after that, but this is all about our leaders going out there and setting an example. expecting behavior to be in a certain way. is it going to be different? it has to be different. that is my charge to myself. i have to go out there as the senior marine and say this is the way it is going to be. if you are not going to get along if you have a problem with , this, then as i mentioned in the video i did, you have to ask yourself if you want to be a marine. if that is not going to change change it, then -- i believe it is. i have heard enough from enough men and women who are seniors
out there that they realize -- why they did not realize it before, i have no excuse, but they realize we are going to change and we can change. and all i would ask is an opportunity to address this. i know you have heard that before, but that is my ask. >> thank you, general. i would suggest you use survivor rather than victim for those who have been attacked. gen. neller: yes, ma'am. >> senator fischer? senator fischer: general, this behavior has to change. it has gone on for too long, and we need to see those changes. you spoke about social media and the lack of recognition that you had, and the lack of recognition that you had on what is going on on social media. the corps does have a policy on social media?
that is correct? gen. neller: yes, ma'am. we do. senator fischer: and you have spoken today about making changes to that policy. do you have any ideas on how that policy needs to be changed? what would make a new policy different d more eve affecti this point? gen. neller: i believe the policy that we revised is focused more on certain behaviors, such as the one we are here to discuss today. behaviors on social media, and to tell all marines that these types of things are unacceptable. it is not part of being a marine, and it is punishable under the uniform code of military justice. the previous policy did not say -- did say that, but it did not
say that quite as directly. it will also take leadership to go out and enforce that. not to hide behind a piece of paper, but they will have to go out and sell it and talk about it. they have to understand that this has got to change. there are marines who use social media. they use it for a lot of good things, as mentioned by the chairman. we use social media to tell the story of marines. and that is fine, but marines have to understand that using social media to degrade, denigrate, and be disrespectful to other marines is not just not who we are but it is illegal. if -- illegal. if you are found doing this, then you are potentially subject to the code of military justice. senator fischer: and i assume marines are educated on the current policy? gen. neller: they are, but i do
not know if it is done always with enough time or reforcement. we startalking to the marines about the values and ethos of being a marine about when they are still -- when they are still waiting to go to recruitment training. to whether or not there are specific discussions about this type of thing, i cannot say to you that it is done with in a manner that is satisfactory to me both in the quality and quantity of discussion. but it will be. senator fischer: have there been any punishments for marines who have violated the current policy you have? gen. neller: senator, i cannot give you a specific quote that this individual did x and was found guilty at y. i would have to take that to the record and get back to you. i asked that question myself,
but much of this type of behavior should be held accountable in a non-judicial punishment which is an administrative action. and i do not have the data to give you that answer. >> if i could add, we have been able to track individuals who have used government computers who access these types of websites. and then we are able to identify the individual and clearly bring punishment to bear. senator fischer: that was my next question. were government computers used? sec. stackley: we have not been able to find any incident of government computers being used, but we will continue with the investigation. senator fischer: general, how well do we understand the membership of this group? how does it breakdown between former marines and active marines, and also retired marines? do you have any information on
that right now? gen. neller: all i c tell you is that we believe the number of individuals belonging to "marines united" was 30,000 on their public facebook page. how many of them are active, or former, or other services, or civilians, i do not have the answer to that. the ncis is looking into that. the place where these individuals went to post these pictures and make their comments was a link to a server hosted by another internet service provider, which has since been taken down. the numbers that we believe had access to this site was much , much smaller than 30,000. i can ask for ncis to give you that number in the closed session. senator fischer: thank you.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. general neller, the military -- the marines have been aware of victimization and exploitation of fellow marines since 2013. there is a letter here with screenshots. this is no mystery that has been going on for a very long time. it was right in front of you and the command to do something about it since 2013. we have countless victims who have come forward, and they are not just being harassed online. once their name, face, where they are stationed is posted, do you think the harassment ends online? it doesn't. i have spoke with a civilian the can -- who continues in her community
because her ex-boyfriend exploited her online. so, when you say to us that it has to be different, it rings hollow. i do not know what you mean when you say that. why does it have to be different? is it now because it you feel accountable? who has to be held responsible? have you actually investigated and found guilty anyone? if we cannot crack facebook, how are we supposed to confront russian aggression and cyber hacking throughout our military? it is a serious problem among we -- us when we have members of our military denigrating female marines who would give their life to this country in the way they have without any response from leadership. i can tell you today your answers are not satisfactory. they do not go far enough. i would like to know what you intend to do to the commanders who are responsible for good order and discipline. all of this behavior is in
violation of article 120 and article 34. they are violating the code of criminal justice. why are commanders who have asked for all responsibility to deal with sexual assault and these behaviors for the five years we have been focused on this? you have demanded that you maintain control of all these issues, but where is the accountability for failure? who is being held accountable for doing nothing since 2013? who? which commander? i am very concerned that this is part of a culture that is resulting in high levels of sexual assault. we know from the sap row report -- that 60% of men and 70% of this report women who have experienced harassment indicated that a supervisor or unit leader was one of the people engaged in the violation. that is a problem with our command.
if you are dedicated to fixing the culture of marines and all the services, what do you intend to do to hold commanders responsible who fail to get this done? gen. neller: senator, i understand. i share your concern. if i were aware -- if any commander were aware of any allegations, particular ly something as serious as sexual assault, the chain of command did not do anything, then that chain of command would be held accountable. i do not have any statistics for you on that. i can tell you that of all those individuals who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault, what has were theis individuals
charges ended up with some sort of process and adjudication. but those are just numbers, as you clearly and rightfully state. this is a problem with our culture. and i am still in the process -- do not have a good answer for you. i will not sit here and duck around this thing. i'm not. i am responsible. i am the commandant. i own this. we are going to have to -- you have heard it before, but we are going to have to change how we see ourselves and how we do -- how we treat each other. that is a lame answer, but, ma'am, that is the best i can tell you right now. we have to change. that is on me. sen. gillenbrand: my time is
expired. >> i was very disappointed in troubled to read this news as were all members of this committee and most americans no doubt. i am reassured by the comments of general neller and the sergeant major this morning about how serious they take it and with the gravity with which they take it. general neller, you mentioned that there are 30,000 members of this group. you do not have the breakdown of active versus reserved versus retired. any indication yet between the breakdown of marines, ncos, and officers? gen. neller: not in specific numbers, but i think we will get that information, senator. i will not speculate as to what the level of officer involvement is or isn't.
but i think the ncis folks can tell you that. i do not know the number, but i would be speculating -- it is highly unlikely that this is just enlisted. but it does not really matter. esther mind not to stick up for -- i just remind marines united, but the great majority of people who went to the site -- and there are other sites. we find other sites out there all the time. we are looking out there and ntis is looking and people -- nci s is a and people are telling us about other sites. marines united is not alone in this despicable, disgusting behavior. i think eventually we will know the breakdown of not just who was a member of "marines united," the who went to this other link and participated in this behavior.
sec. stokley if i might add, to : date we are dealing with cooperative information. in other words, we are trying to draw information short of probable cause with which we could seize the information cooperatively. ncis has opened a tip line, and they have received as of yesterday 53 calls on that tip to plan, which is opening up other avenues to identify individuals, butlso to identify other sites that the commandantas referred to this is a bellringer. -- two. this is a already are. we need to plumb the depths of this issue to understand how far and wide it is, and then work up and down the chain of command to get every man, woman in uniform to understand what our standards
are and what is not acceptable. on the other hand, we need to prosecute these actions to the extent of our ability. we are not going to go backwards. >> we have spoken at this hearing already so far about law and policy, which are important questions. i want to speak to this matter of expectations we have four -- have for young men and women in uniform. back when i was a company officer and we had to do safety briefs every friday afternoon to report that we did not order our soldiers to get into bad behavior over the weekend. rather than get into every sayle detail, i would obeyed the general orders in the law, and be a good citizen, that soldier, and a good man. i would assume your company
grade officers and ncos do something similar on weekends. putting aside the requirements of law and policy, general neller, do you believe that every marine should know that this type of conduct violates the spirit and the ethic of the corps? gen. neller: senator, you would think after all the discussion and training we have done that people would understand that this type of behavior was unacceptable, but apparently whatever we have tried to do has not worked. , ore have not been clear people think they can go on social media with some persona or avatar, but some people use their full name and unit. and because they participate,
the frustration is that what is a crime and what is not as opposed to boorish, stupid behavior. this is beyond that. so, that is where we are in working through that right now. but yes, i believe that if they don't they should now. ,i am going down to camp lejeune tomorrow and i'm going to talk to people and try to make this as crystal clear as i possibly can. sen. cotton: sergeant major, if i could ask you one question -- >> your time has expired. senator blumenthal? senator blumenthal: thanks, mr. chairman. word "despicable disgusting." i think that is something we all
share with you. and i think we all share the passion and impatience at was -- that's a letter -- that senator gillibrand expressed earlier very powerfully because there have been incidents in the past, and your acknowledgment at perhaps the past violations of trust and law have not been addressed sufficiently aggressively may give us some comfort here, but i think we are all going to watch closely and demand froyou not just the words you have given us, which we trust, but also action. it speaks louder than words. do you know personally of any commanders who had knowledge of this site before it was disclosed? gen. neller: no, senator, i don't. sen. blumenthal: and do you
believe the same type of aggressive discipline should be focused on the chain of command as well as on the perpetrators who were involved in the immediate conduct? if they had knowledge echoes -- knowledge? gen. neller: i do. sen. blumenthal: and will you assure us that you will take aggressive action against them? gen. neller: i do. sen. blumenthal: you mentioned earlier that you thought that nonjudicial punishment was appropriate. this for the marines who may have been involved or at least many of them. would you agree that the uniform code of military justice should be applied as aggressively as possible in these instances and that violations should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of penalties that could be
achieved? gen. neller: when i said nonjudicial punishment has does, butity -- it whether that is the level that these allegations are adjudicated is up to the chain of command. all i was trying to imply is that that is a tool available to commrs if the act is me egregious, then there would be venues, more serious venues available to commanders. sen. blumenthal: would you agree that the chain of command may be unable to prosecute as aggressively as possible if, in fact, there are allegations within the chain of command that ought to be pursued?
gen. neller: i don't think that should make a difference. i mean it might cause a commander, as someone are their subordinates was complacent -- complicit in this, but a violation is a violation. we are all accountable. sen. blumenthal: but that might make it more difficult for someone to take action against a fellow marine who was within the chain of command. would there be some process even now under existing law we sought to reform or change it to make sure there is accountability? gen. neller: we select our commanders based on their skill and their ability and their potential to command. they have got to make the hard decisions. and so, if that involves -- and we have all done it -- if that involves disciplining somebody in your own chain of command or that you know, then that is what you do.
sen. blumenthal: two articles of the uniform code, 120 and 134, neither specifically prohibit cyber bullying. my thought has been that perhaps there ought to be a specific provision that is applicable to the conduct involved here, which , in effect, is a form of cyber bullying. would you support such a provision? gen. neller: we have had discussions about whether or not the ucmj has the ability to address this. to me, we have -- this. to me, we have stated what behavior in cyberspace is acceptable and not acceptable. is the weight of article 92, disobedience of an order. 120 c addresses specifically taking someone's picture without
their permission and using it. 134 would address good order and discipline and those things. i believe the tools are there if that's the level of punishment or administrative action you wanted to go to, if the facts support that. sen. blumenthal: there may be some discussion. that is something we're going to get into with this task force. whether there are provisions within the ucmj that may need to be more specific about this particular type of potential offense because this is not new, but there has got to be some tools for commanders to be able to address this specifically. >> if i could add on cyber , bullying, we hypothetically are talking about ways we could prosecute it through the ucmj , but it hasn't been tested yet.
to your question regarding is there value in getting into greater detail and specifics with any specific article, i think the task force is central to one of the areas at they are in fact looking at and we need to keep it on the plate and we need to come back to you with specific recommendations. sen. ernst: those who have participated in these disgusting and horrible actions have not only failed our marine corps but , they have failed the men and women who wish to join your ranks and they have failed our country. i'm not as eloquent as some was -- of the other members on this panel, but the only thing i can do is express how disappointed i am, very disappointed. general miller, i hope you can general neller, i hope you
can convey the disappointment you have conveyed directly to your marines. not through a press conference, not through your designees, but directly to as many marines as you possibly can. implementing change to this type of behavior begins at the ground level and you are leader, sir. as reports continue to come across the dod, it is clear that this seems to beat service wide. this is service wide. we need a service wide approach to addressing this issue. this is a cultural problem not just in our military but society at large. hearing that many individuals were not surprised about these reports disappoints me. hearing that their -- there may not be a way to hold many of the people involved in this accountable angers me. illegal or not, members of our community need to know that this type of activity critical for that leads to sexual assault. those who sat complacently by as this unfolded from the ncos to the officers are all contribute
ing to this issue. there is no excuse and you have stated that, general neller. i appreciate that greatly. there is absoluty no excus for this. especially for those who wear our nation's uniform. the steps that you now take moving forward following this event will define each of us before this committee. regardless of what legal or administrative action you are able to take, i hope this leads to you personally sitting down, and you, sergeant major as well, sitting down and educating our marines. a social media handbook has been discussed by a number of folks here on the panel, but how many marines actually read that? how many sit down and read it? it is up to all of us to educate our marines. the marine corps has a high turnover rate. we have thousands of marines coming through every year and we have to make all them aware of what they represent. they need to know that the actions they take here at home
and online can take away from the success of their brothers and their sisters in arms. this is an absolute issue that impacts our entire society. it's an absolutely horrible issue impacting us and it is one that we must stop. and i say we. it is not just the marine corps. it is those of us sitting here today. we will be evaluating how to give you the right tools, the necessary tools to combat this issue, and absolutely you must hold those marines accountable. in the meantime, i hope you will continue to evaluate what we need to do to combat this issue not just in the marine corps, but service wide and what we need to do to impact society at large. thank you, mr. chairman. sen. mccain: senator donnelly? sen. donnelly: the marines that did this have the trade their -- the trade their fellow
betrayed their fellow marines. these women marines stood up and said they would put their lives on the country line for the country and this is the treatment they got in return. rayed the marines who fought at the embarq province, the helmand province, the gulf, vietnam, korea, you jima.. who built the corps inch by inch and step step. they have disgraced themselves, but they also let down the corps and all those other marines who fought for our country and to help create the corps. i went online and found already that there's a marines united 2.0, posting links to the same materials that already has over 3000 members.
what can be done about this? what does that say? general? gen. neller: sir, if marines united 2.0 is there for their original mandate to help veterans, that's fine. but if there is a link to that takes anybody who can get access to a similar page where there are posted pictures of anybody, but more likely female marines, and they are making commentary, we will go like we did before and we will ask the provider to take it down. that is where we find ourselves. and again, that's where we find ourselves. now, whether we can get the information or make them hold that data for us, we have recently in this investigation
with marines united, and ncis recently got some more information that would allow us to get to that. we are addressing the symptom here. the problem is that anyone would even want to do this in the first place. that is the part -- and this doesn't make any sense to me. ok they are doing it. why? what makes it that anyone feels they are going to make themselves feel better by being degrading about any individual, whether it be based on their gender or the race or their sexual preference? if they are indeed a marine, or anybody, it doesn't matter, that's not who we are and what we do. so our folks now and with ncis' help, we go through the legal process and go to the provider to ask them to take it down.
i think ncis can give you more information in the closed session. there are other sites out there. this is not -- marines 2.0 is just one. again, some of them are legit and they do good or proper things for veterans or anybody who belongs. others -- not so much, not at all. sen. mccain: senator sullivan? sen. sullivan: i would suggest, general, they are also the -- disrespecting. sen. mccain: the gentleman's time has expired. please proceed. sen. donnelly: what i wanted to say is they are basically challenging you, general. they are thinking that they can
get away with this. you are the commandant of the corps. and i think it's up to you and i trust and believe you will tell them and show them that they are not bigger than the core corps, that they cannot treat their fellow marines like this. what do we say and how can the women marines feel that the corps has their back? when a young woman makes a decision that number one she wants to serve the country and put her life on the line for us, why will she choose the marines? how do we reinstate that trust that we have her back? gen. neller: the only way we can, senator, is through our actions and show that anyone who
sticks her hand up to support and defend the constitution of the united states and wants and has the willingness to earn the title of marine is going to be a full-fledged member of the team, like the two female marines sitting behind me here. we've got to make them believe it. we've got to earn. they don't just earn the title of marine they have to earn , their opportunity to compete and be the best person i can be. so i can sit here and say it. but we have to earn re-earn the , trust of not just them, but this committee andhe arican people. i understand that. sen. mccain: my apologies, senator donnelly, for cutting you off. sen. donnelly: don't worry, sir. senator sullivan?
sen. sullivan: thank you mr. chairman. i want to begin by thanking senator gillibrand for her calling for this hearing and her unfailing advocacy for women in military. like you, general, i -- military. like you, general, i am a father of three daughters and also spent a lot of money in a career -- my civilian career focusing on combating the problem that senator ernst mentioned. it is not only a problem in the military but across the country -- domestic violence and sexual assault. i think senator gillibrand's focus on this benefits the military and the country. i also appreciate you and sergeant majors a opening sergeant major's opening statement, saying you will take responsibility for this. i think everybody on this committee, general when i first read the news, about marines attacking integrating other marines, like senator donnelly just mentioned, i was outraged, disgusted, and embarrassed, as a citizen, lawmaker, and marine.
i'm here in a capacity of u.s. senator. but earning the title of marine has been the proudest achievement in my life -- always has been, always will be. you know, we talk about that formidable more force in the world, but the marine corps goes farther than that. i was walking down the street on capitol hill. there was a mom and two young kids -- a boy and a girl -- walking by me and a group of marines were coming out strong, formidable, and they passed this family. the mom looked at those kids and said, they are marines, they are courageous and fearless and wi do anything to protect our country. keep our country safe. that is what mothers in our country are telling their kids. this goes way deeper than this. i believe that the marine corps
can't prevent -- if the marine corps can't prevent its marines from attacking its women marines, it is going to lose what it means to the country. general you talked a lot about , the perversion of the culture. what do you mean by that? gen. neller: senator, like you, i believe all marines have a belief that our motto -- semper fidelis, our core values and commitment, it is what we are. everything that we have seen in this marines united event is not. and so anybody who is out there involved in this or any other site doing this, as has been accurately pointed out, this is something that has been out there for some time. i don't know how they think they
can reconcile the inner marine with this. it just doesn't -- i don't mentally see how you can get from a to b. sen. sullivan: one of the things about the marine corps and all military services, but the --ine corps particularly there's a culture and part of what we do is bring violence to the enemies of our nation. we are good at bringing violence to the enemies of our nation. isn't the perversion of the culture where the marines are bringing violence upon women marines? isn't that the perversion of the culture? whh every marine who is honorable thinks is a disgusting perversion? gen. neller: i believe that's a very accurate description, senator. thank you for that. sen. sullivan: major, can i ask you a question? you both talked about boot camp
and getting at this early. marines dothing the very well in boot camp is focusing on the history of the marine corps. you walk out of boot camp if you can make it, many know about chosen reservoir and you know about iwo jima and you take pride in it. general i thought your opening , statement about referencing five marine women who were killed in action defending our nation -- do you think, sergeant major, that focusing on some of those issues with regard to our history and boot camp can start to set the culture on a more proper course to recognize they are marines, right? it doesn't matter that they are men or women. they died for our country. could we do a better job of instilling that at the outset?
putting that at the forefront of the minds of these 18-20-year-olds kids? sergeant greene: absolutely, sir. the task force has put together. we met a few days ago and that's exactly what we started. we're going beyond. at the delayed entry program, we are looking at everything we teach marines and we have to understand within ourselves in a four-year enlistment, 120,000 marines would've gone in and out of the marine corps. we would've turned over two thirds of the marine corps in a four-year period. we have to absolutely take a a look at not only how we make marines from those who walked through the door and want to be something better than self but also want to mentoring marines -- how to maintain marines and families with any those of honor
-- with an eight those -- with ethos of honor and commitment. we are seriously going to take a look at that because the processes that work yesterday, they are not working today because there are other societal ills that come through the door with every individual that comes in. the tools that we have are not being as effective as they need to be today. we're going to take a look from the recruiting of our marines until the time they leave the gates, and also beyond that. we will ask veteran support organizations out there to look motto, once a marine, always a marine. tell the marines who go out the door that they are responsible. there are some bad actors who have worn the golden anchor and they are determined to keep these things going. we know this for a fact and we have got to do better with our ethos and find the tools and ways and convince those who come through the gates and those who, like you said earlier, who are thinking about coming to the gates.
the moms and dads talking to the kids, our sons of the naval academy. they left for spring break going to orlando. my wife is freaking, she is scared to death. i just sat down with the four boys in my basement and talked about this, talked about sexual assault, talked about the ethos of all the current and commitment. the fact that one day, they may lead and one day lead in comment that combat, but first they must lead back here in peacetime, showing they a worthleaders, where the leaders to go on to lead marines and sailors in in combat. i have a 14-year-old daughter. i want to be proud if she wanted to be a marine just like my sons. i have to assure that i leave the footprint along with the commandant to provide the safety safetyly for my -- not only for my kids, but all kids, sir. sen. sullivan: thank you, sir.
>> i am a father of a marine and i employ a lot of marines in my office for my state is where every marine officers trained. a lot of other marines are trained and served honorably. i think i can say on behalf of an awful lot of virginians that this is a moment when the story broke that a lot of people's heart sunk in and a lot of people's stomachs were turned. this is absolutely critical to get right. you are completely aware of the work of this committee under the leadership senators hillebrand, -- gillibrand, mccaskill, and others to tackle sexual assault in the military, and it's still very much an open proposition on this committee because the question about whether sexual assault or other crimes should be treated within the uniform code of military justice or separately is something that we have resolved for now to try to deal with in the chain of command, but we are testing the evidence. we're looking at the data to
determine whether that was right or not. many of us, if we conclude we are not getting the results we want, even those of us who have supported chain of command in the past may conclude it is not sufficient. it would be tragic for the marine corps for that decision to be made because of a belief that the marine corps's bad example would cause us to make that decision for all branches or tarine corps's bad example would cause us to make a decision that would be with respect to one branch of the service and not to others. and so that is the weight of this matter and a body that is still is really assessing whether the military and the marine corps and other branches have the tools they need to tackle this problem. the marine corps does a great job of setting people aside who don't meet physical fitness standards. the marine corps has done a very intense amount of work to get into the redefinition of military m os to provide gender-neutral standards that people need to meet to serve in
mos. if the marine corps attacks this problem with the same degree of attention and passion that they attacked an issue like physical standards, then you are going to solve it. but i think i speak for everybody appeared that we have not seen that. we have not seen that level. i want to ask you something. i thought your opening statement was very good, but i did have one question about it. could you get your written statement, because we do not have copies of it here, and rita sent -- read a few first sentences to me again? gen. neller: the beginning, sir? sen. king: yeah, just the very beginning. neller: normally i would
appear before this committee to tell you about the extraordinary things that your marines are doing at home and around the globe, but today is different. i'm here today to discuss the details of discussing actions that have allegedly been committed on social media. senator king: stop right there. that have allegedly been committed on social media. are we talking about allegations here or something that has happened? it might be an allegation as to who was involved, but this is not just an allegation about something that happened on social media. this is a fact. isn't that correct? sen. mccain: we are going to go into a closed session. i think that question is appropriate for then. sen. king: i think it's important to really make this clear. we are not talking about any individual in this hearing and we shouldn't for the reason that you stated, but in the public hearing, this is described as alleged behavior, but there were allegations of something on social media, i don't think we are treating it with the seriously need to. -- seriousness we need to. this is not allegations about social media. this is stuff that happened.
the marines testimony that this is not unique and senator donnelly's description of oreans united 2.0 is -- marines united 2.0 is that it's important that we do not leave confusion with the public and we are not just talngbout allegations of something on social media. who was involved? we are not going to get into that in an open session, but i would put that to your attention going forward because we talking about more than just allegations here. i have a hard time believing that this massive sharing of information about women in the marines would just be limited to this branch. talk to me about investigations into whether this is also going on in the other branches of the military. sec. stackley: i can't speak specifically for the other branches, but in the closed session, what i would recommend we discuss is some of the information that ncis is arriving at through their tip line and the number of websites that indicate similar activity on other websites.
king: let me ask it this way. do you believe this activity is limited just to the marine corps? sec. stackley: no, sir. sen. king: thank you. sec. stackley: this is that at the top of secretary matus's mattis'list to get to this issue. this is not being managed as an isolated issue for the marine corps. we recognize vulnerabilities and we need to prosecute this. >> i want to get a clarification on marines united. i think it's important and we can get into numbers later, but we are talking about 20 or 30,000 marines involved in the -- 20,000 or 30,000 marines involved in the social media network, much of which is the subject of the actions we need to get in the bottom of. can you give me some rough idea
of the sub page where the illicit activities were occurring and what that is of the total people engaged in what what otherwise be positive social media interaction? sec. stackley: we believe there are about 30,000 total members of the page. how many active, how many former, how many reserved, in the link they would take you to the separate drive, i've been told that the numbers were about 500. >> that is the important point. a lot of people think there are 30,000 marines engaged in this activity. it is a subset, and what is a miter -- minor subset of the important.ry ller: it doesn't matter if there is one. what is the maximum penalty
they can receive if they are found to have been engaged in this level on these sites you code can they be court-martialed, imprisoned? subjectcipline are they to right now based on the current rules? it would depend on the level of involvement and what they were doing. >> worst of the worst. what potential penalty could they receive from this? sec. stackley: they could be court-martialed, sir. >> what about a veteran? what could they possibly suffer. gen. neller: it depends on the state. certain states have certain laws and there are certain provisions about what his consent with the use of a picture.
sen. tillis: i would like to look only need to do to make this a very, very painful exercise for someone caught guilty of doing this. if for veterans, we could s for badbenefit behavior after they are discharged, those are the sorts of things we have to do. a part of what we need to do is change the culture and i believe you will, general neller, and i believe we need to work on that. we need to make it a very frightening proposition for people going forward to be captured in this sort of activity. i would like you to report back to me as a member of the veterans committee. what more do we need to do to make this a very frightening proposition for some of the to get tempted into doing going forward so you do not have to focus on these things? i want you to train marines to be safe and legal on the battlefield, not these sorts of things. we need to work to make it very clear that this will produce higher consequences for people stupid enough to do these kinds of things going forward. thank you, mr. chair.
>> thank you, mr. chair. i have gone from anger and disappointments to sadness. this is a sad day for our armed services. what von miller's me -- what bothers me, general is i'm , convinced that all of us human beings have the capacity to be good or evil and how that comes , out in any given situation, particularly in a group situation depends almost entirely on how we are led. one of the things that bothers me is that there was a quote in the press last week from a reporter and a former marine who really broke the story that not once on this website or on marines united 2.0 did he see anybody say this isn't what we are going to do. this is wrong. this is improper. this is disrespectful.
not once. and that speaks to me of a culture that goes all the way down. and you can ha proamations and issue letters and everything else, but if you have got lower ranking ofcers and noncommissioned officers who are winking and laughing and they just deliver a statement with a little grin that undermines the , whole thing. this is an indication to me of a serious cultural problem that goes beyond the specifics of orders. do you understand what i am suggesting? senator, i: understand her for what you're suggesting, and i agree. being a bystander for any sort of offense is something that we struggle with. once by a senior officer that the marine corps is built on discipline and it's a rock. it's the foundation of our
house. every time you walk by something you know is wrong, it's the equivalent of taking a hammer and hitting that rock and and putting a chip in it. and enough people want by, pretty soon that thing is going to crack. -- walk by, pretty soon that thing is going to crack. we may be at that point. i think marines in their mind, they somehow have separated what they do and operational things and what they do in training and what they do when they are not out there actively engaged. they think that the social media, the net gives them anonymity to do this type of thing. they are ignorant as to the impact. that is what i've got to make everybody understand. no, it does not work that way. king: this is your marine corps.
doned posting and being about what they puonli is the underlying -- these guys apparently didn't feel they were doing anything wrong. they were on this website with 30,000 people on it and they were posting it and nobody said this is an appropriate or do you think this is a good idea? that indicates to me that they felt empowered or enabled to do this. it's really not a question of issuing orders, it is issuing orders that are credible that go all the way down the line in terms of not only saying the right thing, but meaning it and conveying it. gen. neller: mr. brenton, the individual who broke the story, he said it. and i think we are finding and we are going to find that there are more who are going to come out and say what should've been said before, if not on this. there are a number of people out there who have the ear of whatever this group is. king: by the way, you
they are mocking you and the leadership. they are saying, and get us, and cif. there -- ncis. they are still posting pictures. they are not getting the word. qulet me follow up to one ick question. what is the jurisdiction and the accountability? for the role thereunder. code,of the military there are consequences if they are in the marines now, but one some manhave seen is posted his discharge papers me -- brand said, and get
>> we will get it later. we will publicly let the world know who this person is. the website, i am a little confused. i am not the best person to tell you about the internet, that is for darn sure. of the 30,000 people that were doing this,is desk or most of them doing bad things are talking as marines? the numbers that we are looking at right now is that the majority of them were not involved in this activity.
the poing of photos, sometimes -- somebody took a photo of a young female marine. how many of the 30,000 to that part of it? sec. stackley: the number that we are carrying is about 500, but the investigation remains ongoing. that one is i agree too many, but i am trying to get my head around it. what was the purpose of this website? sec. stackley: marines united was initiated five or six years ago is good purposes in mind. that was to support marines who were suffering with ptsd and coming out of combat. startedham: so they with good purpose and some people hijacked it, is that right? sec. stackley: yes sir. you graham: sergeant major, have a 14-year-old daughter.
what would you tell someone who has a 14-year-old daughter about whether or not she should join the marines? sergeant green: first of all, i would like to say that i am ashamed of the actions of this website. i can assure that that parent, mother or father, that the chain of command in the marine corps, the leadership, we are going to do everything we can. would you tell those parents to send my >> oh addition of a young marine who is picking of joining? i could understand why they would have some questions. >> don't you think this has stepped over the recruitment of young women? talking about are
recruitment becae the ony as we are trying to increase the number of women in the marine corps. certainly i would see this is not helpful. >> i would see this as devastatingly bad. would you agree that this is a dark chapter for the marine corps? >> we have not distinguished ourselves in this affair. >> having said that you are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. you have an honored tradition like every organization that has dark moments. do you agree to this is one of the darkest moments that needs to be fixed? >> yes, senator. >> there are two ways to make people do better. >> absolutely. >> scare the hell out of them. >> yes sir. the believe
people are above the grading their female marines as of this moment? >> as of this, no. >> would you promise me that there is a lot of fear coming? >> we will do all that we can to hold people accountable. demurring him -- the marine hymn says to keep our honor clean, do you think you will try to keep that honor clean? >> absolutely, we well. >> are you committed? >> i am. >> the thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. so much of this kind of behavior has to do with
some attitudes in culture, it is very difficult to change the culture. i am wondering if one of the ways that we can deal with this issue is to provide on deterrence, would you agree that one of the ways we could deter this kind of behavior is through court marshals where appropriate? >> center, i believe deterrence is a part of this. there has to be accountability, whether it be a court-martial or other processes. >> in terms of changing the culture, how would you begin to change the culture. this has been a long-standing, not just in the marines, this affects an issue that all of our services. how do you begin to change the culture? you have a commander in chief who exhibits certain attitudes towards women. how do you change the culture?
>> the only way i know how we have done this in the past and we have dealt with other issues and we accept -- there are always going to be those who are not able to adjust and they will have to be -- that will have to be adjust. i think they are good and decent people, they have to understand that there is certain behavior that we expect and that we recognize positively. there are others that we do not, part of that is having a discussion. that has to happen at the beginning when they say that see the recruiter. there are those that are not modeling the culture that we want or they are even come donate it. as the serget major said we
areoi where it starts. we're going to look where every marine starts training or at officer candidacy school. we're going to look at how we start this. perhaps to be a deterrence, there will be, i would like to say we will be 100% successful. we will probably not be. for those that are not able to comply, there needs to be deterrence. >> i am assuming that you will take every step necessary to certain behaviors were violated and then to pursue the court-martial that you will do that. >>y strenuously western mark yes, senator. >> what kind of message are you giving to the current female marines.
have you brought everyone together in a way that the message doesn't get to individuals just in training but to the current situation to your women marines. have you talked about how this is totally unacceptable? >> senator, the only way i can when hundred 84,000 marines, there is about 15,000 marines that are women. about 1500 of them are officers, the rest are enlisted. i have to use our own platforms on social media to expect from their leadership. me, also there are all
your leaders on the basis, what are they doing to get the message across? to allave spoken leadership, we have issued a letter for instructions to go out and engage in this. withoing to follow that up more direction. the sergeant major and i are going to go speak to the marines in person. it is going to take some work so down to thedy gets last marine. we have a plan to speak both personally and using other venues or forms such as this hearing today to tell them what is going on and what they should expect. what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. marine was to go to the corps, would there be a session that i could attend where the situation was discussed?
>> there will be. there has been, i do not know when commanders have scheduled this. i could find that out for you, senator great if you want to agree this participate i would appreciate it. >> i will do point check into that, thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. general, you and the sergeant major have made it very clear that you have been in discussion with this activity. i believe you when you say you want this ended. at the same time i'm just wondering when you first heard about this and you are working your way through it did it come to mind that this be an outgrowth of discrimination tha whoave seen in terms of men don't think this is a place for women in the military?
>> senator, we talked about that. are going to be people who have that particular , i don't think that gives you to a point where you take a picture and degrade the person online. even potentially insulting them on my. whether that is their motivation or not, i do not know. i have heard it described as dark humor of veterans. that is a copout, we know there are marines who are they areting in this just ready to credibility, i do not know. it does not matter. me, it is behavior, whatever
made them think that they were going to do this or watch it and not reported, that is what we have to get after. >> the reality is we cannot go to war without women anymore? >> no sender, we cannot. >> there are individuals we believe who have participated in the inappropriate activity on this particular website that has the brought to light, do we know if the 500 members are current or former members? --doing have those numbers we do not have those numbers. we just got access to more information, we do not know. >> if i can say something. -- parts, worst arts a victim or a survivor of this whole ordeal.
in a uniform,rved they have actually captured a voice on social media, they have been denigrated that are serving or want to serve. , if we do noty get this right, this could drive women out of the marine corps. this could give them a reason not to serve. that is why we must get at this. this is absolutely a mouthpiece for them. address theto actions here. that into make certain your ability to discipline, clear and appropriate guidelines
within the code that allow you to address the specific actions. toalso have to find a way address the actions who were formally in the military and are no longer a part of it but are still displaying this kind of activity. is that a fair statement? >> yes, sir it is. but thank you. >> general, would you agree that taking on the site will not help the problem? >> i would agree. >> at it is really important that we recognize that this is not a digital problem, not a social media problem, not facebook's problem. aat is a wet them all approach. we have tried that in the past it does not work. this is a conduct problem. it is a criminal problem. a humanfortunately problem.
you resisted that descriptor of cultural problem. i think it is time we recognize it for what it is. it is to change. posting pictures of female marines without consent, i have seen some that are screenshots horrible. it is happened before. from 2014article here i will not share it with you because i do not want to tell the marines name. she said she was freaked out, she could not even look at it. all of my social media is private. i do not know how in the world they got a photo of me, i was terrified of the comments i was then thebe receiving or di
subsequent comments threatened violence. you have asked for the trust of female marines, you have asked the trust of survivors. i just want to ask you, given that this has happened on again and again, it is pervasive on the social media environment. what would you say to those orients to demonstrate that leadership has earned the trust. >> my ability to sit there and say you need my trust is because we have not gone after this. i acknowledge that. i cannot get after it if they do not become a part of it. ifyou rightly mentioned, they are out there in these
venues, they will be attacking them again. i think that is part of the problem, it is the worst part of up gettion that you end up and get shouted down. i am sure you deal with that, i know i am going to deal with it. i have certainly going to deal with it today. ofyou mention this because anonymity, are active marines are allowed to participate in that space anonymously. of active dutys military members should be different from just the general public?
>> this is where i think it's i am not an attorney. it becomes an issue of free secretary saide what is criminal or what is not. consent to a picture, what is nonconsent to a picture. there are individuals out there get their name or the unit, there has to be accountability for that. that is what i aasking of women to help us with. >> i would ask you to help us, there are specific changes to program that you need to be able to change with these abusive behaviors. tothere are specific changes statutory changes from people
who have already been discharged, we need to know what those potential tools are so that we can help you get a hand on this problem. >> thank you, mr. chairman. talent, thank you for being here today. this is a sad day for the marine corps. it is a sad day for the armed forces. on this committee are agreed that the conduct was despicable. trust toll a sacred joined ournd men who volunteer military and put it all on the line. themselves abused and
marines,d by fellow that is simply unacceptable. i appreciate your addressing this issue with the seriousness that it deserves. you istion to each of twofold, how do we ensure that thisev happe again and what is to happen so that those who violated the rights of fellow marines are held accountable? senator, to ensure that it does not happen again we have to
change the way we see each other as marines. easy, itot going to be has to be done. people wenow how many are dealing with here, whatever their belief is they just happen to be piling on or they are misguided or ignorant. if they are in this organization they cannot participate anymore. for those, i honestly believe withleadership of their, the ncos, the enlisted, they are the ones who have their finger on the pulse. trust inen greatest the marines. i have seen what they can do, i know their spirits.
wrongot believe, i may be , i pray to god i am not. i do not believe that this is the majority of people who wear the uniform. they are going to solve this. i cannot do it myself, we have to solve it together. for those who do not want to be a part of the solution, then there needs to be accountability. we will work our way to this. as we discussed, there are -- we have to clarify with our leadership what the actions can be of misbehavior and making sure it is identified. to hope these people accountable. we are looking at a whole bunch of things. that is our path forward. piece, it isining
really a leadership and a discussion feast. at the end there has to be accountability. there are those who understand what is right and wrong. they they feel like they have to do this. the once were going to be held accountable. >> we have to build an environment. if a marine walked into anyplace and they already have an idea of what that organization does, they walk in there. in real life if they're doing something illegal, if they're doing something to denigrate, disrespect people, we have to build that environment in the marine corps where they are going in the social media world and they understand the meaning
of friend because when you hit the button and get the right as a friend that's not the same meaning as in i meet someone and that's the reality of today and in the virtual world. just because you tag somebody as a friend doesn't mean you know that person and that's not really your friend. some people just learn that day, see people, tag them as a friend. not understanding in the social media world everything you have given them on your page they can do what they want, take it and do what you want and understanding the laws that we have right now today that protects an individual, we have to explain that to our marines. our leadership and those that we recruit. senator cruz: thank you. senator warren: thank you, mr. chairman. so we're here today marines
using social media to share intimate photographs of female service members and veterans without their consent and it seems like every time we shut down one of these websites that a new one pops up. general neller, i appreciated your strongly worded message last week but we've already seen that at least one new website seems to have appeared in defiance of your guidance. we can play digital whack a mole but we will be losing until we have better tools to prosecute those who are responsible. so i want to go back to the uniformed code of military juice but i want to ask it from a different perspective. general neller, i understand if the original photo was taken consensually, the usmj would not be under article 120-c even though it was shared without consent, is that consent? general neller: senator, my understanding as the sergeant major was discussing, if you are on a public facing webpage and
you post a picture that in itself can be construed as consent and if someone else takes that picture, that there is no criminal action. senator warren: well, and i just want -- general neller: not saying i agree with that. that's an interpretation. senator warren: so let me ask this question. so many states have made revenge pornography a criminal offense. do you think we need a change like that to the ucmj? general neller: i think that would be helpful in the accountability process. but, again, i'm not saying not all these pictures -- some of these pictures of these women where they were fully clothed and it's the commentary and all that. senator warren: i understand. general neller: yes, i do agree. senator warren: photographs that were taken consensually and then someone else posted them or they were posted in a different context and forwarded them? general neller: that's correct.
senator warren: i know you are committed to pursuing this but if you want to shut down this conduct you ought to have every legal tool at your disposal. let me ask you a second question. every marine corps base maintains a list of places that are off-limits for service members. in 2013, one of your predecessors, general amos, told congress that the marines were examining whether you could legally make certain webtes off-limits in the same way. you can't visit there anymore you can go into town and visit these particular places. what was the result of that assessment, and do you need additional authorities to be able to do that? general neller: senator, i am not aware and i take that for the record and maybe our -- my s.j.a. can talk to you about that, but i am not aware we ever, because of right of free speech and things like that,
ever placed a website off-limits? on a government computer we block certain websites but when someone is on their individual device, i am not aware we said the following websites are off-limits and to frequent these sites, if we were even able to determine if the marine had, that you would be in violation of a lawful order. senator warren: i think this may be something worth exploring again so you have the maximum number of tools available to you to stop this behavior. i have one more i want to ask and that is, general neller, you are not the first commandant to attempt to address this issue. in all due respect, it doesn't seem to be working. i think it's because these social media scandals are symptoms of a much larger problem. it happens in the barracks and it happens in the field and it starts as early as basic training. are you willing to reconsider
the role that marine recruit training plays in this and re-evaluating the marine corps' policy of gender segregation at basic training? general neller: senator, we're taking a very long look at how we do recruit training right now. i would not couch our recruit training as segregated and i would inviteou down to see what we do. nator waen: were not separating men and women in the marines anymore? general neller: they live in open squad base and men and women are in platoons. the good portion of the training at parris island where all our women get trained they do things with male recruits. the tank, rifle, we do it different than anybody else.
senator warren: i want to make sure i understand it because i'm past my time. are you saying no activities are segregated other than sleeping or are you saying that some activities are segregated and some are not? general neller: some are and some are not and we are looking at the entire way that we do recruit training from training -- how we educate and training our drill instructors to how we do the entire program of instruction for men and women. senator warren: thank you, general. service members who disrespect their fellow service members dishonor the service and dishonor our nation. and we have got to put an end to this conduct so none of us is here again. thank you. senator mccaskill: general, i think there's two issues i want
to talk about during my brief time here. the first one is, i want to make sure that you all respond to the point that has been made previously but the idea that this had to be discovered by a journalist and not discovered by you, there's a fundamental flaw in oversight in terms of good order and discipline and conduct unbecoming if we are not ferreting out this kind of ugly marine ethos without journalists having to do it. i will look forward to a plan and i will ask my colleagues to join in a letter to secretary mattis because i think this is something that needs to be done in all of the services. what are you all doing internally to monitor online conduct that's related to active service members?
and how are you addressing that in terms of not just the vitriol that was on these sites but also cyberbullying that could be impacting morale? and i want to get to the bottom of that. the second one is accountability. now, i'm going to tell you a brief story and that is when i was a prosecutor in kansas city, i wanted tdo more on domestic violence and the detectives came to me and said, well, senator -- i wasn't a senator then -- prosecutor, you need to understand many times the victim doesn't want to cooperate. and if we don't have a victim we can't prosecute. and i said, well, let's shut down the homicide unit then. because we don't have victims in homicide and we figure out a way to make the case. and i bring that up because for 134 and 133 conduct unbecoming and good order and discipline, it doesn't matter if the victims
cooperate. if you can prove that this was online and said these things and referred to fellow marines in this manner, then -- i mean, the prosecutor in me tells me you have a prima facie case and i know you can't comment on that because of undue influence but i just want to point out it's very important to understand that accountability is possible here even if the survivors are not interested in coming forward to be quote-unquote part of the case. could you acknowledge that, general? general neller: senator, i understand your point. that would, though -- and, again, no excuse -- would require us to be out there. we survail our network for people -- surveil our network
for people that are passing information. we look for malware, we do a lot of things and that's why major general reynolds behind me, she's our cyber commander. our ability to look at all these potential websites where here is this kind of nefarious, disgusting behavior, it kind of goes to the a certai ere is the right of the marine to express free speech and where does it go into an illegal action and so our ability to monitor that. we're having that discussion now and i take your point. senator mccaskill: we can talk about this in closed session more. it doesn't has to be in closed session but ncis is one that i want to talk to about it. we have detectives all over this nation that are posing as bad guys online to catch horrible people that are trafficking children and doing
other illegal activities. it would not be hard for someone to pose as an active marine looking for a spot where they can see what these guys obviously were interested in looking at. in is something that you could do on a random basis and once it's known that's out there, it is amazing the turn of effect that would have in terms of this being seen as acceptable. i also want to say that i think there's accountability piece -- you know, there's crimes you can deter and there's crimes you can't deter. i guarantee you, you throw some marines out of the marine corps, you say you are no longer welcome here and you are dishonorably discharged for this behavior, you do that in a high-profile way and obviously i don't want you to comment because i don't want to get into undue influence territory but let me say for the record, if you go after the active marines that you have evidence on and if they are dishonorably
discharged, that will begin to send a signal that many of us up here are desperate for you to send. it is is -- and then i would close, mr. chairman, just by pointing out that there has been some progress made. the 2014 sapro survey was cited by senator gillibrand. i do want to say in 2015, i want to say this for all of the survivors out there, 77% of the survivors that were surveyed in 2015 recommended that other survivors come forward. so that is a positive that we are having that increase in numbers of survivors advising other survivors to come forward. i want to get that publicly on the record today. so survivors out there in this incident here those who are coming forward who now have services and support available to them can expect a more positive experience as we all
try to hold these jerks accountable. and jerk is a kind word. thank you, mr. chairman. senator mccain: senator mccaskill has her usual receipt sense. i thank you for your passion and i thank you for your involvement in this issue for many years. and many of us do appreciate your commitment, senator mccaskill. thank you. senator peters. senator peters: thank you, mr. chairman. i have to agree with my colleagues up here that today is indeed a very sad day for the marine corps and for our services that we are without question discussing absolutely reprehensible behavior that needs to be aggressively dealt with and it has to be dealt with immediately. and i know general neller, you know the entire country is watching today and although i appreciate your strong words, i know that you know that we also need strong action, that words will not be enough. we are going to need to
immediately take action and my experience with you, i know that's the type of leader you are and we will be working with you in any way that we can to be helpful to you. my colleagues have made some very important points regarding the culture in the marine corps and i want to build on that and specifically talk a little b about recruit training which has been brought up, particularly, though, at parris island. as all of the witnesses know, marine corps recruits from the eastern half of the united states, including my state of michigan, as well as all female recruits attend basic training at paris island in south carolina -- parris island in south carolina. without question basic training is where the marine corps instills its value so a marine is always a marine so that stays with that individual the entire life. last year the marine corps completed three cases into hazing and even hazing among drill instructors there. it included the targeted hazing of recruits for their ethnic
background or religious beliefs including a muslim recruit who was placed in an industrial closed dryer multiple times. a separate muslim recruit from my state of michigan died by mping over a stairwall while instilling trust into the marines. they found that maltreeveant by their instructor team, leadership failures at multiple commands and process failures traited to his death. the investigation also found a senior drill instructor at parris island to, quote, hate recruits, end of quote, in order to train them. i'm very concerned that the poor practices in the training is as a result of these instances may have contributed to some of the inexcusable behavior that we're discussing today. as you know, general neller, respect is a core value for
that individual. i know you referenced reprehensible behavior. let the panel know what the ope of this review will be, how will it be conducted and has it already resulted in some corrective actions in recruit parris island? general neller: well, senator, after the investigation we sat down and looked what was going on at recruit training and what we found is we had lules and regulation but there was a leadership in -- failure in leadership and supervision so we have done a number of things to clarify what the rules were, what they weren't. we increased a number of officers. we've gone back to look at how we train our drill instructors. there were some practices that had crept in over time that were not in compliance with the orders. there were a number of officers
to include battalion and regimental commander who were relieved due to their inability to maintain good order and discipline and follow the rules and regulations. the individuals that you mentioned plus others are in the process of going through the military justice system. and i'll leave it at that. and you will -- you will probably will have read or hear about where they are within that process in the next few weeks. hate to say -- i this provided an opportunity but, again, to look back at, ok, so how does this -- this doesn't happen here. and so somewhere we're in the process and already in the process of going back and talking to instructors what it is to lead, coach, mentor. we have a number of things we already implemented as far as
changing the attitude. the commanding generals that are there at both san diego and parris island are all in with this. they understand what we are trying to do. and i think they're making progress. but we have to prove that we've changed. so i agree with you that part of this, part of what has to change at the recruit training and officer candidate school is a discussion of how we view each other as marines, whatever our race, gender, whatever. because that's where you learn what right looks like. and so we're in the middle of that. i believe we have a plan. it's not going to change overnight. but it's going to change. i'm confident of that. and we will correct this. and if there are others that don't want to follow the rules,
they will be held accountable. so i believe we're headed in the right direction there but, again, you want to see results, i'm responsible to give you those results and it's not going to happen overnight but, again, i'd ask to invite you to come down to see what we do at parris island and san diego and see some of your michigan marines because i believe we ot -- we're on the right path. senator mccain: secretary stackley, thank you for your appearance today and thank you for your input as we recognize the civilian stewardship of our military. sergeant major green, you're probably -- your leadership is probably now more necessary than most times in the past as we repair the damage that has been done. and to put into proper
perspective this is a terrible thing. and from time to time these things have happened. but at the same time we recognize the united states marine corps and their service and sacrifice that is going on today as we speak. and we don't want to ever diminish that service and sacrifice that they have made. general neller, you came before this committee with cannedor. we are now, i believe, -- candor. we are now, i believe, embarked thanks to your testimony and commitment on an effort that may take a long time but i think this hearing was important to beginning to fix a problem that apparently has been out there for some period of time. i believe you're facing it head on and the one request i have from this committee is that you keep us informed, not only the progress that you make, but in
the challenges that you face because we are looking at a new form of communication amongst our citizens and it's called the internet. and as i mentioned in my opening statement, it's provided knowledge and information in a way that's never been available before. there's also a dark side. and we're looking at the dark side today. and we're going to look forward o you and secretary stackley's recommendations if it's necessary to pass additional legislation. we cherish the right of all citizens to have a right of privacy, but i think when we're outrageous ind of and offensive behavior [no audio] when we do something like this
we harm the reputation of all. a few have done that. and it's our obligation to try to see that this kind of thing is not repeated. senator reed. mr. reed: mr. chairman, i simply want to con-- senator reed: mr. chairman, i simply want to concur and thank you for this hearing. it's further work of all the military services. not just the marine corps. all the military services and this congress to get it right. senator mccain: we will meet in 10 minutes in russell 220 to continue this conversation in classified setting. thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]