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The Editors

Going to War Against Military Sex Crimes

Congress is poised to change the way the U.S. military deals with the profusion of sex crimes within its ranks. Changes are surely needed, but there’s a danger that Congress won’t reach the root of the problem: Most sexual attacks in the military go unreported.

One bill that has Defense Department support, and thus stands a good chance of passing, would toughen penalties and restrict commanders’ power to grant clemency -- good changes both. Sponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, the legislation would mandate the dismissal or dishonorable discharge of anyone in the military found guilty of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy or the attempt of those acts. (Currently, the court-martial may or may not kick a convict out of the military.)