Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller testified during a Senate Armed Services hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday and condemned those who posted the nude photos of female service members to social media pages and other websites without the consent of the subjects.
During his opening statement, he directly called out the men of Marines, asking, “What is it going to take for you to accept these [female] Marines as Marines?”
In addition, he asked the women who are enlisted in the Marines to “trust the leadership to correct this problem” and he has vowed to prosecute those responsible for posting the nude photos to social media.
Neller also vowed to lawmakers that the Marines will do what it takes “remove this stain on our Marine Corps” and added, “we all have to commit to getting rid of this perversion of our culture.”
His comments come after public backlash following the discovery that former and active-service members of the Marines have been sharing nude photos of female service members on a private Facebook page called “Marines United” that boasts nearly 30,000 members.
Unfortunately, the problem also spread beyond Facebook to a website called AnonIB is known to peddle pornographic photos among service members in branches other than the Marines, says the report.
Today, the Commandant of the Marine Corps addressed recent allegations of cyber misconduct, and how it hurts the team. pic.twitter.com/AQifcMeUtG
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) March 11, 2017
The ongoing criminal investigation into the nude photos scandal was originally disclosed by The Center for Investigative Reporting, which stated that more two-dozen women had been identified by their rank, full name, and military duty station since Jan. 30, according to Fox News.
Senators at the hearing on Tuesday reportedly ripped into Neller for allegedly ignoring previous complaints of sexual harassment, assault, and cyberbullying.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., demanded to know why no one had been held accountable for past reports of online harassment that date more than two years ago. She held Neller’s feet to the fire for supposedly making “hollow” promises to clean up the Marines but not delivering.
“Who has been held accountable? Who has been held responsible? Have you actually investigated and found anybody guilty?” she asked. “Your answers today are unsatisfactory. They do not go far enough.” She added, “If we can’t crack Facebook, how are we supposed to be able to confront Russian aggression and cyberhacking throughout our military?”
Neller replied that he didn’t have a “good answer” for why there have been lapses in investigating past complaints. He attempted to take ownership for the mishandling saying, “I’m not going to sit here and duck around this thing. I’m not. I’m responsible. I’m the commandant. I own this.”
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen echoed the same remarks when she asked why his pledges should be taken seriously now when he failed to follow through in the past. She added that other military leaders have previously vowed to address sexual abuse and harassment issues among service members, though the issues still remain.
“It’s hard to believe something is really going to be done,” she said. “Why should we believe it’s going to be different this time than it has in the past?”
Neller eluded to coming changes within the Military and openly admitted, “The Marines Corps I have served for over 40 years has a problem, and we intend to fix it.”
— U.S. Marines (@USMC) March 10, 2017
H/T: Fox News
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