Chair Jackie Speier NDAA Provisions Address Military Sexual Assault, Intimate Partner Violence, Racial Justice, Ethics, Military Families, and DoD Oversight and Modernization (July 2, 2020)

Rep Speier NDAA.jpg

“Nearly two dozen major provisions offered by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, were adopted during consideration of the annual defense policy bill by the Armed Services Committee this week.”

  • Authorize a System of Military Court Protective Orders: Allowing military judges and magistrates to issue court protective orders compliant with the Violence Against Women Act. The new judicial orders provide better protection and enforceability for servicemembers and family members experiencing intimate partner violence.
  • Initiate a Sexual Assault Prosecution Pilot Program at the Military Service Academies: A 4-year test of a new Chief Prosecutor would demonstrate whether assigning charging decisions for sexual assault and other special victims’ crimes to an independent expert outside of the chain of command would increase the willingness of survivors to report and the ability of the military justice system to hold perpetrators accountable.
  • Establish a Special Inspector General for Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Armed Forces: A dedicated office to investigate underrepresentation of people of color among military officers and high-ranking enlisted servicemembers, racial disparities within the military justice system, and white supremacy among servicemembers.
  • Increase Representation of Women and People of Color in the Armed Services: The military would be required to establish specific goals to increase recruiting, accessions, and promotion of minorities and women, and to report to Congress on a plan to achieve these goals and their progress.
  • Address Bias by Anonymizing Candidates Before Military Promotion Boards: Redact all personally identifiable information, such as names and photographs, of servicemembers before promotion boards to remove the potential for conscious or unconscious bias.
  • Make Violent Extremism a Military Crime: A new article within the Uniform Code of Military Justice would bring greater consequences to servicemembers who perpetrate, plan, threaten, or conspire to commit violent acts with intent to intimidate or coerce a person or class of people, or the intent to impact government action or policy.
  • Track White Supremacy among Servicemembers: The military services would be required to improve tracking of white-supremacist and other extremist activity by servicemembers.
  • Establish a Military-Civilian Task Force on Domestic Violence: The task force would report to Congress with findings and recommendations to address intimate partner violence among servicemembers and military families, and DoD would be required to collect data on the prevalence of intimate partner violence.
  • Establish a Military-wide Safe-to-Report Policy: Clarify that servicemembers may report sexual assault without fear of being disciplined for related minor collateral misconduct such as drinking in the barracks.
  • Improve Coordination for Survivors of Sexual Trauma: Ensure a warm handoff for survivors when relocating between stations within the military or when separating from the military and transferring from service providers within DoD to resources within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Improve Oversight of Military Sexual Assault Investigations: Require DoD to report to Congress all military sexual assault investigations that remain open more than 6 months along with the reasons for the delay.
  • Improve Oversight of Next Generation Body Armor: Require DoD to report on barriers to fielding next generation body armor that will provide better, gender-specific protection for military servicemembers.
  • Expand Child Care Options for Military Families: Address waiting lists, establish competitive pay for providers in high-cost areas, provide housing priority for military spouses that operate Family Care Centers, and expand the Financial Assistance Program to pay for in-home child care, such as by a nanny or au pair. Additionally, it requires 24-hour child care be provided on bases where servicemembers are required to work night shifts.
  • Improve Oversight of the Next Generation Interceptor Missile Defense Program: Require an independent cost estimate and two successful flight tests before buying.
  • Transparency of Contractor Ownership: Expand reporting requirements to identify the beneficial owner of contractors.
  • Strengthen Whistleblower Protections: Clarify that nondisclosure agreements do not prevent employees of government contractors and subcontractors from filing a whistleblower complaint.
  • Examine Equal Employment Opportunity: Require the Department of Defense to report on ways to improve the EEO process for DoD civilians.
  • Enact the Elijah Cummings Federal Employee Anti-Discrimination Act: Strengthen EEO protections and increase accountability for federal employees who are found to be responsible for discrimination.
  • Authorize Incentive Pay for Programming Proficiency: Develop a system to track coding language aptitude and proficiency by military servicemembers and DoD civilians and offer financial incentives for needed programming skills.
  • Investigate Suicide at Remote Military Installations: Require a Comptroller General report covering unique challenges of preventing suicide by military servicemembers and military family members at remote bases outside of the contiguous United States.
  • Examine Access to Contraception and Family Planning Education. Require DoD to issue a report on barriers experienced by servicemembers in accessing contraception and the status of implementation of new DoD requirements on reproductive health care, such as ensuring access to contraception for the full length of deployment.

Read more here.

Related Links:
Chair Speier NDAA Provisions Address Military Sexual Assault, Intimate Partner Violence, Racial Justice, Ethics, Military Families, and DoD Oversight and Modernization
Gillibrand: The Military Justice Improvement Act Would Give Service Members a Justice System That Works (July 1, 2019)
Senators Cruz, Gillibrand, Grassley Offer Bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act as Amendment to Defense Bill (July 2, 2020)

Crimelines True Crime Podcast w/ Death’s Door Podcast Featured the Last Military Execution of Army Private John Bennett in 1961 (April 22, 2018)

“In 1961, the US military carried out the last execution after a court-martial, as of the time of this recording. Army Pvt John Bennett’s conviction was for the rape and attempted murder of an 11 year girl in Austria. This case brought up questions of race in our military justice system and if mental health should factor into sentencing.” –Army Private John Bennett w/ Death’s Door, Crimelines True Crime Podcast (April 22, 2018)

Related Links:
Civil Rights Act of 1964
No Military Executions Since 1961
Crimelines True Crime Podcast (website)
Crimelines True Crime Podcast (Facebook)
Crimelines True Crime Podcast (Twitter)
Army Private John Bennett w/ Death’s Door | Crimelines Podcast | Stitcher
Army Private John Bennett w/ Death’s Door | Crimelines Podcast | Podtail
Army Private John Bennett w/ Death’s Door | Crimelines Podcast | Radio Public
Army Private John Bennett w/ Death’s Door | Crimelines Podcast | Apple Podcasts
Four U.S. Service Members on Military Death Row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Army Private John Bennett was Last Military Execution by Hanging in 1961
Six Intriguing True Crime Podcasts Spotlighting Active Duty Military Suicide, Missing, and Murder Cases
Pvt. John Bennett Is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime.
A look at the last U.S. soldier executed by the military
U.S. Military Could Execute Ex-Soldier for First Time Since 1961
Haunted by the Story of John Bennett and Other Black Soldiers’ Lives on Death Row
Soldiers Sentenced to Die, but No Executions on Military Death Row Since 1961
These are the 4 inmates on the military’s death row
Death’s Door Podcast (website)
Death’s Door Podcast (Facebook)
Death’s Door Podcast (Twitter)

Joseph Kahahawai Murdered by Naval Officer Tommy Massie and Grace Fortescue in Hawaii After Hung Jury for the Alleged Gang Rape of Thalia Massie (1931)

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Joseph Kahahawai, Jr.

On the evening of September 12, 1931, Thalia Massie was walking home from a party she attended in Honolulu when she says she was pulled into some bushes and gang raped by some natives of Hawaii. She told her husband Tommie Massie, a Naval Officer who worked on a submarine, that she was raped. He immediately wanted justice for his young wife and insisted on calling the police. Thalia came from a very prominent family and led a privileged life that honored privacy; she did not want this information to go public. Once the Navy found out, they contacted the police department in an effort to exert pressure to get a conviction so their image was not impacted and the spouses felt safe again. As a result, the allegations were taken very seriously by the police and the case was investigated. Another woman reported that same night that she had been harassed by a group of Hawaiian natives and the police couldn’t help but suspect the two cases were related. After interviewing this woman, they were able to determine who one of the men were because she was able to provide a license plate number. The police brought the first suspect into the station for questioning and were able to find out who the other individuals were.

All of them were placed in a line-up together and Thalia Massie was asked to choose the men she thought were the ones who raped her. She picked two of the five men. Regardless the police charged all five men with rape and took them to trial. In the meantime, Thalia’s mother, Grace Fortescue, came to support her daughter through the trial. In the end, all five of the men were set free due to a hung jury; the jurors were deadlocked six to six. Tommy Massie and Grace Fortescue were especially upset with the outcome of the case and believed these men were guilty and only free because of a technicality. But what they didn’t consider is that Thalia’s identification of the accused was not credible because she could not see well without her glasses, it was dark that night, and she was only able to identify two of five individuals in a flawed police line-up. The other mitigating factors were no semen was found inside Thalia when the doctor’s performed an examination and she had bathed after the alleged rape so that evidence was lost.

Before Honolulu civilian investigators even initiated a second trial, Tommy and Grace decided they would get confessions from the accused so this time it would ensure a guilty verdict. They decided they would pretend to be the police and abduct Joseph Kahahawai with the help of one of Tommy’s Navy co-workers. They took Joseph back to the Massie home, held him at gunpoint, and asked him to admit to the crime. Joseph refused to admit guilt and would not sign the statement admitting guilt. He also let them know they cannot hold him captive because they are not the police. Joseph attempted to leave and it was at this point that he was shot and killed in a foiled abduction to elicit a confession gone wrong. In the meantime, Joseph’s cousin contacted the police to report that Tommy Massie abducted Joseph. Tommy Massie and Grace Fortescue were caught red-handed with Joseph’s dead body in the car after the Massie vehicle was spotted and police pulled them over. The two were on their way to a location where they could have dumped Joseph’s body and he would never be found again.

Tommy Massie and Grace Fortescue were both arrested for the homicide of Joseph Kahahawai. The Navy personnel, spouses, and other white people treated them as if they were celebrities. The duo never thought the jury would convict but they did. They convicted them of manslaughter and sentenced them to 10 years. Unfortunately, the Governor of Hawaii pardoned them and reduced the sentence to 1 hour in jail. They were freed after abducting and murdering a man they were not even really sure was a perpetrator. Despite evidence that a rape may have never happened, it didn’t matter to Tommy and Grace. They wanted someone to pay for the crimes against Thalia and believed it was the truth. Supporters celebrated the victory with them. It appeared that Joseph Kahahawai’s life didn’t even matter to them, but his life did matter to those native to Hawaii. Hawaiian natives knew that the island was safe prior to Hawaii becoming a territory of the United States. This was the case that changed the image of Hawaii, now a paradise lost to the natives.

Related Links:
Trouble in Paradise
Massie Case Revisited
Massie Trials (1931 & 1932)
Getting Away with Murder: The Massie Case
The Crime That Changed the Islands
The Massie case: Injustice and courage
Rich, Famous, and Questionably Sane
Civil rights and murder in 1931 Hawaii
LAW ’N HISTORY: Thalia lied, Joe died
The legacy of the Massie-Kahahawai case, 80 years on
Local Story: The Massie-Kahahawai Case and the Culture of History
The 1932 murder that exposed the hole in Hawaii’s idyllic facade
Post Time: Palm Beach suicide had link to race-charged Hawaii trials
Post Time: The Thalia Affair, Part 2: A trial, a murder, another trial
Thalia Massie: White Navy Wife Blamed Hawaiian So-Called Thugs in Alleged Rape


Honolulu, HA, 1931: When the young aristocratic wife of a Naval Lieutenant is discovered bruised and beaten by the side of a dark road, a hackneyed scheme and a trigger-happy hand will lead to the most sensational murder trial in Hawaii’s history. -Investigation Discovery