During a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the top U.S. Marine general, Marine Corps. Commandant General Robert Neller, vowed to hold Marines accountable for the recent nude photo-sharing scandal.
But, his passionate pledge only came after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) ripped into the general for the Marine Corps’ failure to protect its female members.
“There’s no mystery this has been going on for a very long time,” Sen. Gillibrand told Neller during the hearing. The Marines have been aware of the online exploitation of female Marines for the past four years, Sen. Gillibrand said, holding up a 2013 letter from a female Marine to a commander detailing the harassment she was receiving online.
“I can tell you, your answers today are unsatisfactory. They do not go far enough.”
“It is a serious problem when we have members of our military denigrating female marines who will give their life to this country in the way they have with no response from leadership,” Sen. Gillibrand said, visibly shaking in anger. “I can tell you, your answers today are unsatisfactory. They do not go far enough.”
Watch the full exchange below.
The scandal broke last week when it was revealed that hundreds of veteran and active-duty Marines were sharing nude photos of female Marines without their consent in a private Facebook group titled “Marines United.”
According to a Business Insider report published last week, the scandal goes beyond just one Facebook group: Hundreds of nude photos of female Marines have been shared on a site called AnonIB dating back to May 2016. In another report from Navy Times published Tuesday, it was revealed that nude photos were also shared on sites like 4chan and Tumblr, along with male Marines’ personal Google Drives.
Sen. Gillibrand took Neller to task for what she sees as the ongoing inability of the military to hold perpetrators who exploit other members of the military accountable for their actions.
“Where’s the accountability for failure? Who is being held accountable for doing nothing since 2013? Who? Which commander?” she said. “I am very concerned that this is part of a culture that is resulting in the high levels of sexual assault.”
In response, Neller admitted that this is most definitely a problem with the Marines’ culture.
“I don’t have a good answer for you. I’m not going to sit here and duck around this thing, I’m not. I’m responsible,” he told Sen. Gillibrand. “We’re going to have to change how we see ourselves and how we treat each other. That’s a lame answer, but ma’am, that’s the best I can tell you right now. We’ve got to change and that’s on me.”