Snapshot Review of Sexual Assault Report Files at the Four Largest U.S. Military Bases in 2013 (PDF)
Source: Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
On February 10, 2014, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, in her oversight role as Chairman of the Personnel Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, requested the Department of Defense (DoD) provide her office with files pertaining to the investigation and adjudication of sexual assault cases, from 2009 to 2013, at the largest U.S. base for each military service. These installations are the Army’s Fort Hood in Texas, Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
On December 15, 2014, 308 days after the initial request, the Department of Defense provided 107 redacted sexual assault case files from the year 2013. Senator Gillibrand had requested “all reports and allegations of rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault, sex in the barracks, adultery and attempts, conspiracies, or solicitations to commit these crimes” for the last five years. Despite two separate assurances from then-Secretary of Defense Hagel directly to Senator Gillibrand that all files would expeditiously be provided, the DoD reluctantly agreed to provide just one year’s worth of files after then Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin intervened. The larger request remains unfulfilled. This refusal from the DoD to provide basic information pertaining to sexual violence and military justice to the former Personnel Subcommittee chair with oversight duties calls into question the Department’s commitment to transparency and getting to the root of the problem.
While the case files do shed some light on how the military has dealt with the scourge of sexual assault on bases, with many findings consistent with the Associated Press’s accounts of sexual assaults at American military bases in Japan, it is important to note that the files are redacted, incomplete, and often do not contain all relevant data pertaining to the cases.
Our review of the 107 case files provided by the Department of Defense sheds further light on the true scope of sexual violence in military communities, including two large but overlooked segments of the military population – military spouses, and civilian women living near military bases – that are not counted in the DoD’s surveys on sexual assault prevalence. The documents analyzed by our office suggest that civilians (including spouses) are especially vulnerable, and that the military justice system continues to struggle to provide justice.
Legalized Tax Fraud: How Top US Corporations Continue to Profit Through Offshore Tax Havens
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget (Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, today called on America’s leading corporations to stop sheltering profits in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens. He also urged them to stop lobbying Congress for additional tax breaks as the Business Roundtable, an organization representing some of the largest corporations in the country, is expected to do tomorrow.
Sanders issued a new report that provides a fresh glimpse into the far-reaching corporate tax avoidance strategies of large and profitable companies represented by the Business Roundtable, including what he calls the “legalized tax fraud” of sheltering profits in offshore tax havens.
The report shows for the first time how more than 50 percent of the companies represented by the Business Roundtable are collectively holding more than $1 trillion in profits in offshore tax haven countries where it is not subject to U.S. taxes.
The report also shows that several of the companies have been profitable for years but pay nowhere near the 35 percent income tax rate that nominally applies to corporate profits. In fact, according to a report last year by the Government Accountability Office, the effective tax rate for large, profitable corporations was just 12.6 percent in 2010, a figure that Sanders is asking the GAO to update today. The report also points out that a number of huge corporations – including General Electric, Boeing, Duke Energy and Verizon – not only have paid nothing in federal income tax in recent years, they received refunds from the IRS.
Innovation for Healthier Americans: Identifying Opportunities for Meaningful Reform to Our Nation’s Medical Product Discovery and Development
Innovation for Healthier Americans: Identifying Opportunities for Meaningful Reform to Our Nation’s Medical Product Discovery and Development (PDF)
Source: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
From press release:
Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) today released a report on the challenges to getting safe treatments, devices and cures to patients more quickly and effectively, examining what is working, and what isn’t, at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
The senators are soliciting feedback on their report as Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) begin a major initiative in the Senate health committee —including a bipartisan working group and a series of hearings—to examine the time and cost currently involved with the drug and medical device discovery and development process, and how to better align public policies to support medical innovation.
In the executive summary, the senators write: “This report aims to examine the current process of drug and device development and identify the inefficiencies that stand in the way of a modern development and review process. We take a close and honest look at what is, and is not, working well at the NIH and FDA. We want to know what successes we can replicate, and what failures must be learned from and fixed.”
Bipartisan Group of Senators Announces Report on Simplifying Federal Regulations for America’s 6,000 Colleges and Universities
Bipartisan Group of Senators Announces Report on Simplifying Federal Regulations for America’s 6,000 Colleges and Universities
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
A bipartisan group of senators on the Senate education committee, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), today announced a report detailing ways Congress and the Department of Education could streamline and reduce federal regulations for America’s 6,000 colleges and universities, while protecting students and taxpayers. Chairman Alexander also announced a hearing to discuss the findings of the report on February 24.
“The stack of federal regulations on colleges and universities today, which stretches as tall as I am, is simply the piling up of well-intentioned laws and regulations, done without anyone first weeding the garden,” said Senate education committee Chairman Alexander. “This report will guide our efforts to weed the garden and allow colleges to spend more of their time and money educating students, instead of filling out mountains of paperwork. I thank the members of the task force, Chancellors Zeppos and Kirwan, and the American Council on Education for their hard work on this report—and I look forward to discussing their findings in our committee.”
Markey Report Reveals Automobile Security and Privacy Vulnerabilities
Source: Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass)
New standards are needed to plug security and privacy gaps in our cars and trucks, according to a report released today by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.). The report, called Tracking & Hacking: Security & Privacy Gaps Put American Drivers at Risk and first reported on by CBS News’ 60 Minutes, reveals how sixteen major automobile manufacturers responded to questions from Senator Markey in 2014 about how vehicles may be vulnerable to hackers, and how driver information is collected and protected.
The responses from the automobile manufacturers show a vehicle fleet that has fully adopted wireless technologies like Bluetooth and even wireless Internet access, but has not addressed the real possibilities of hacker infiltration into vehicle systems. The report also details the widespread collection of driver and vehicle information, without privacy protections for how that information is shared and used.
Senator Markey posed his questions after studies showed how hackers can get into the controls of some popular vehicles, causing them to suddenly accelerate, turn, kill the brakes, activate the horn, control the headlights, and modify the speedometer and gas gauge readings. Additional concerns came from the rise of navigation and other features that record and send location or driving history information. Senator Markey wanted to know what automobile manufacturers are doing to address these issues and protect drivers.
Documents in the News — Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program – Foreword, Findings and Conclusions, and Executive Summary
Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program – Foreword, Findings and Conclusions, and Executive Summary
Source: U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
The Committee makes the following findings and conclusions
#1 The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.
#2 The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.
#3 The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.
#4 The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.
#5 The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
#6 The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.
#7 The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.
#8 The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.
#9 The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.
#10 The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.
#11 The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.
#12 The CIA’s management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program was deeply flawed throughout the program’s duration, particularly so in 2002 and early 2003.
#13 Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced operations related to the program.
#14 CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.
#15 The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for detention. The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its enhanced Interrogation techniques were inaccurate.
#16 The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation techniques.
#17 The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management failures.
#18 The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
#19 The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.
#20 The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’ standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.
U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations — Subcommittee finds Wall Street commodities actions add risk to economy, businesses, consumers
Subcommittee finds Wall Street commodities actions add risk to economy, businesses, consumers
Source: U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations
Wall Street banks have become heavily involved with physical commodities markets, increasing risks to financial stability, industry, consumers and markets, a two-year investigation by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has found.
The investigation’s findings, contained in a 396-page bipartisan report, add important new details to the public debate about the breakdown of the traditional barrier between commercial activities and banking. Included are previously unknown details about activities by Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, including Goldman Sachs’ controversial management of warehouses storing most of the warranted aluminum in the United States. The new details raise new questions about whether such activities harm businesses and consumers and allow for possible manipulation of the markets.