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USA-MARINES
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Military Nude Photos
Military Nude Photos
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Marine Corps Publishes, Then Deletes, Name Of First Woman Infantry Officer


Corps mistakenly outs first woman grunt, then denies multiple interview requests, citing her privacy concerns. Veterans call for transparency, celebration.  

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Marine Corps Publishes, Then Deletes, Name Of First Woman Infantry Officer


Corps mistakenly outs first woman grunt, then denies multiple interview requests, citing her privacy concerns. Veterans call for transparency, celebration.  

By Anna Hiatt and Thomas J. Brennan

The Commandant of the Marine Corps won’t publicly say her name.

“The event is historic and newsworthy. Not her name,” said Lt. Col. Eric Dent, the spokesman for the Commandant of the Marine Corps, after the first woman to graduate from its arduous Infantry Officer's Course requested anonymity last week.  An audio recording published, and then deleted, by the Defense Department’s media distribution network four days before graduation revealed her name.

“She didn’t want to express anything," he said. "She was just happy to have graduated, and to take the next step to go lead Marines. It was that simple.”

The Corps had been preparing a congratulatory media campaign to highlight her accomplishment. The Infantry Officer Course in Quantico, Va. has a notoriously high dropout rate. Of the 131 Marines who started Infantry Officer Course in July 2017, 88 graduated this September. 

When she asked to remain anonymous, the Corps agreed to honor her request. But four days before graduating, “a Marine made a mistake” and published the recording identifying her, according to Lt. Col. Christian Devine, a spokesman for the Corps' Headquarters.

It's the last glass ceiling in the Corps, said Joe Plenzler, a retired field grade officer who worked in the Pentagon as a spokesman for the Commandant from 2010 to 2015.

"She finally made it into the club of infantry officers, which is the apex." 

The successes of servicewomen are historically important, Plenzler said, and in the Marines specifically, which has held out against gender integration, her achievement will help pave the way for future generations of female infantry officer hopefuls. It is the only military branch that does not have gender-integrated bootcamp. The U.S. military as a whole has been slow allowing women to hold positions equal to men. Until January 2016, women were prohibited from serving in combat roles.

"This is a historic moment in the history of women in the military, as important as the first female general officer, as the first female fighter pilot," Plenzler said. “An environment of opacity breeds suspicion. By shrouding her identity, the Marine Corps has counterintuitively increased the pressure on her.

“The Corps should be celebrating her personal story.”

The original post containing the Marine Minute recording has since been deleted by the Marine Corps. A cached version of the page contains both the recording and the transcript, and has been verified as authentic by Marine officials. Two field grade Marine Officers on active duty—one with Training and Education Command and the other with Marine Forces Reserve—confirmed her identity. The Corps denied multiple requests to speak with the first woman infantry officer, and multiple independent attempts to reach her were unsuccessful prior to publication.

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The Corps was founded in 1775 and didn’t allow women to enlist until 1918. That year, Private Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to sign up. Women have struggled to break into the military at every rank and speciality for the last 100 years. Sarah Burrow became the Corps’ first woman pilot in 1995. In 2015, the Army publicly celebrated that 1st Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest became the first women to graduate from the highly-competitive Ranger School. In April 2017, Lillian Polatchek became the first woman Marine to serve as a Tank Officer. It is not standard practice to honor requests for anonymity citing privacy concerns when highlighting a service member’s accomplishments.

“Opha Mae Johnson didn’t have privacy concerns in 1918,” said Dent, the public affairs officer to the Commandant, who declined to comment whether the new lieutenant is at risk of physical or online violence and harassment—an exemption within the Defense Department’s Public Affairs Policy and Regulations Manual that allows personal information to be withheld.

The lieutenant is among an elite group of Marines that have become graduates of a notoriously difficult training regiment. Since 2012, 33 women have attempted the school—29 on an experimental basis between 2012 and 2015. During that same time period, 978 male officers attempted IOC and 692 graduated, according to previous reports. IOC is 13 weeks long and focuses on combat skills and leadership development. The school is hailed as one of the Corps most grueling courses.

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Devine, the spokesman for Headquarters Marine Corps, acknowledged that the digital age heightens privacy concerns and said that the Corps will prepare her on how to handle media attention. “I would think, any Marine—especially any Marine woman—is going to take the impact of the digital environment into consideration.”

The Corps would not discuss whether the lieutenant has specific safety concerns or what they may be.

It’s only a matter of time, Devine said, before her name is enshrined in the history of the Corps and recited by recruits “spouting off knowledge or walking in formation. They’re going to say, ‘who’s the first female infantry Marine officer?’ And it’s going to be this person.

"Recruits will say her name. And we’re going to get there one day.”

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'Marines United' Scandal


'Marines United' Scandal


Advocates Activated by Marines United are Gathering Strength

By Andrea Januta

Whistleblowers and female service members are determined not to let the conversation about sexual assault and harassment in the military die down in the wake of Marines United.


The Impact of Our Reporting About Marines United

Because of The War Horse's exclusive investigation into the orchestrated stalking and the deliberate collection and distribution of photographs of active duty and veteran women, the sharing of nonconsensual images in the military is now illegal.

Marines United: New Symptom. Old Problem.

By Andrea Januta

The military's "silent epidemic" predates social media. But in the internet age, where everything posted is permanent, victims struggle to escape the harassment.


How The Marines United Investigation and Scandal Unfolded

By Andrea Januta

Our story begins one day late in January 2017 when a Google Drive containing photographs of service women in various stages of undress was posted in the Facebook group Marines United.


Bills Seek Reform, Harsher Punishments in Wake of Marines United Scandal

By Anna Hiatt

Legislators in both the House and Senate are demanding the Defense Department reforms its approach  sexual harassment and abuse.

Originally published on Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting


Officials Scramble to Punish Marines Responsible for Nude Photo Sharing

By Anna Hiatt

The Senate Armed Services Committee demanded to know how the Commandant of the Marines Corps and the Acting Secretary will address the Marines United scandal.

Originally published on Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting


Strong Response Follow News of Nude Photos Shared by Marines

By Anna Hiatt

The Commandant called for a culture change within the Corps and for Marines to step up and protect and support their fellow servicemen and women.

Originally published on Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting


An Attack From Within: Male Marines Ambush Women in Uniform

By Thomas James Brennan

The Defense Department is investigating the orchestrated stalking and the deliberate collection, and distribution of photographs of active duty and veteran women. Dozens of victims were identified by their name, rank, and duty station. Our exclusive investigation.

Originally published on Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting

USA-MARINES

Advocates Activated by Marines United Are Gathering Strength


Marines United has resurfaced the Defense Department's "silent epidemic." Advocates are determined not to let the conversation die again.

Advocates Activated by Marines United Are Gathering Strength


Marines United has resurfaced the Defense Department's "silent epidemic." Advocates are determined not to let the conversation die again.

By Andrea Januta

 

CONSISTENT RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

Change in Marine Corps culture that's led to a silent epidemic may be an uphill battle.

The Corps updated its social media policies in mid March to state that sharing pornographic images without the subject’s consent can be prosecuted in the military. All Marines were required to sign a statement acknowledging they had read the new policies.

But direction from the top hasn’t meant consistent commitment through the ranks, and the resistance to change is obvious online.

More than a dozen splinter groups, including Marines United 2.0 and 3.0, have formed since the original Marines United page was removed. Servicemen have continued to disseminate pornographic images on Facebook and other online platforms like Snapchat and torrent websites. Similar collections of nude photos of servicewomen have been identified as having been shared by members of the Navy, Air Force, Army, and ROTC.

An administrator for one Facebook group, under a fake name, posted a photo of a partially undressed service woman and wrote: “[The women] know the only purpose they serve is a pincushion for the guys. The media is trying to get people in trouble and act like marines showing pictures is wrong. All I’ve got to say is fuck em.”

Marines stationed across the country have expressed on social media and in interviews that the policy update and signed statements are not changing behavior.

One female Marine, who asked not to be named because she is still active duty and fears reprisal, said her unit commander told her to sign paperwork indicating she had received training on the new policy, even though she was absent the day of the training.

“You go to a mandatory class or you sign a piece of paper that everyone makes fun of and no one takes seriously,” said a male non-commissioned officer who has spent three years in the Corps and also asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

When his unit signed the papers, he said, his colleagues complained about the hassle and ridiculed the content.  

 

A change in culture will only come about when the directives from the highest levels of the Marine Corps are given value by direct supervisors through enforcement, said Marines interviewed for this piece.

But the commanding officers in charge of enforcement have historically shown that not all are on board with the order to follow up on claims of sexual assault and harassment.

“The top level is trying very hard to make equality happen,” said the male non-commissioned officer, “but the attitude that [lower-level officers] are taking in direct supervision doesn’t communicate any sincerity.”

 

FEAR OF REPRISAL

A quarter of women who reported sexual assault to the Defense Department experienced professional reprisal, and half of the time it was from their unit commander, according to the Department of Defense’s 2016 annual report on sexual assault.

In response to fear of reprisal and its chilling effect, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, has championed legislation that would remove the power to pursue or dismiss allegations of sexual assault from the hands of complainants’ direct supervisors.

Some advocacy groups, like Actionable Change, have also focused on integrating men and women at boot camp. Segregation from day one, they say, promotes the idea that female Marines are not a true part of the Corps and allows misogynistic behavior to thrive.

Both proposals have faced support and backlash from Marines.

Sexually exploitive behavior exhibited in the Marines United Facebook group has re-exposed a deep division within the Corps, with one side fighting toward a vision of female equality, and the other fighting to preserve the current culture. Both sides are committed to seeing the battle through. The question now is, what will it take for one side to win out?

Whistleblowers and women speaking out against the exploitive behavior within the Corps have become targets themselves.

Since breaking the Marines United story, Thomas Brennan and his family have received numerous death threats. One commenter offered a cash award for anyone who distributed naked photos of Brennan’s wife.

John Albert also received threats after he reported the Marines United Facebook group in late 2016. Photos of his house and his address were published online with calls to retaliate.

“They talked about going by my house and shooting it up with assault rifles and killing me,” he said. “Killing me in a way to send a message.”

Though Brennan and Albert received private messages of gratitude from some service members, many of the same people expressed reluctance to publicly express support because of concerns for their reputation, friendships, and the safety of their families

“A lot of people care,” Albert said. “But very few are willing to openly go against it.”

 

WILLING AND READY TO FIGHT

But there are a few women victimized by Marines United who are willing and ready to fight. Erika Butner, a Marine veteran, and Marisa Woytek, an active duty Marine, have been appearing on TV, meeting with legislators, and holding press conferences about the sexual harassment they have experienced or witnessed, and the effect Marines United has had on them.

The two reported the Marines United Google Drive in late January. They stepped into the spotlight after the story broke determined not to let the conversation die down, because other women fearing reprisal are silent about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault while in the military, despite pledges of support from members of Congress and the Corps' leadership.

Erin Kirk-Cuomo is another female Marine veteran confronting harassment. She and three other servicewomen founded a Facebook group called Not in My Marine Corps within days of the Marines United story breaking. The group’s goal is to support and share resources with survivors of assault in the military.

Kirk-Cuomo had seen similar behavior to today’s Marines United harassment while she was deployed to Iraq in 2008. There, she shared life-and-death situations with her fellow Marines, but when the day ended, the men would gather in tents to look at photos of women and discuss “what they would do” to them.

Not In My Marine Corps submitted a witness statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee for its first hearing about Marines United in mid March. Kirk-Cuomo and her co-founders have also met with the task force investigating the websites, and worked with Facebook to remove offensive content.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that in the next six months we may see a lot of things that personally I never thought I would see in the Marine Corps,” she said.

 

IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

Lack of action by Marine Corps leadership has allowed the problem to grow unchecked for decades, but in the wake of Marines United, members of Congress and some outspoken service members are taking advantage of the moment to demand the Corps act—and fast.

While Congress pushes for updates on the NCIS investigation, it is still too early to tell whether the ensuing punishments will effectively deter future sexual harassment.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service announced in June, three months after the scandal broke, that it was finalizing the first charges against a Marine involved in the  scandal, and that it was continuing to investigate five others, according to Military.com. NCIS has identified 89 people of interest—67 of whom are active duty or reservists, and 22 are civilians. Citing insufficient evidence to prosecute, NCIS has passed 62 cases involving Marines to commanders.

One court-martialed Marine pled guilty on June 29 to non-consensually sharing explicit photos with the Marines United group. The Marine was sentenced to 10 days confinement and a three-rank demotion. Other disciplinary responses have ranged from discharge from the service to no punishment.

“Seeing the numbers of how many of these cases were handled is an argument for taking it away from the command level,” Kirk-Cuomo said. “I don’t believe that administrative actions are appropriate in these cases. This is sexual predatory behavior, plain and simple.”

The variability and lack of transparency about disciplinary decisions highlight the difficulty of measuring progress when cases are handled at the command level.

While the investigation continues, advocates for change have also put forth several broader fixes. A 2013 Senate bill, introduced by Senator Gillibrand proposed having independent parties investigate charges of sexual assault and harassment. The bill aimed to address high rates of retaliation and low rates of conviction—but was filibustered in 2013 and again in 2014. Gillibrand’s office has confirmed the Senator will reintroduce the bill in 2017.

Some Marines believe that while legislation might help, if change is ever going to come to the Corps, it must come from direct commanders setting an example. Male Marines have to defend their female colleagues, they say, and refuse to tolerate sexually exploitive behavior—both online and off.

"These leaders need to rise up and become good men,” said veteran Marine and War Horse Writing fellow, Joy Craig. “Really be the honorable men that they claim to be, by policing their own and putting a stop to [harassment]. If they don’t come down on each other, they really won’t change."

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Marines United: New Symptom. Old Problem.


Sexual assault and harassment in the military are nothing new, but the advent of the internet has kicked the enduring impact on victims up a notch.

Marines United: New Symptom. Old Problem.


Sexual assault and harassment in the military are nothing new, but the advent of the internet has kicked the enduring impact on victims up a notch.

By Andrea Januta

This is the second of a three-part series about the silent epidemic of sexual harassment and assault in the Department of Defense.

a scandalous history

The distribution of explicit photos by servicemen is not a new or rare event.

It existed before the internet, immortalized in books like Anthony Swofford’s memoir, Jarhead. In the best-selling Gulf War memoir, Swofford recounts learning his girlfriend had been cheating on him and taping three “seminude” pictures of her to his Platoon’s “Wall of Shame,” where men had Duct taped images of 40 or more women. “Three are of Kristina in various seminude positions, the only piece of cloth covering her being my dress-blue blouse,” he wrote.

Around the same time 83 women and seven men reported being sexually assaulted by Navy and Marine officers over the course of three days during a 1991 aviation conference in Las Vegas. The Tailhook scandal, as the incident became known, rocked the military. Lt. Paula Coughlin was the first person to level accusations of sexual assault. The official report on Tailhook recounted her experience:

She was grabbed on the buttocks from behind with such force that she was lifted up off the ground. As she turned to confront the man, another man behind her grabbed her buttocks and she was pushed from behind into a crowd of men who collectively began pinching her body and pulling at her clothing. One man put both his hands down the front of her tank top, inside her brassiere and grabbed her breasts.

Initially, the Defense Department declined to place any responsibility on military officers. Only after facing pressure from Barbara S. Pope, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and other higher-level officials did the department conduct a second investigation and hold anyone accountable. No one was prosecuted.

Scandals involving sexual abuse and harassment in the military have continued to break every few years.

In 1996, a rape ring in the Army was uncovered. In 2003, the story broke that rampant sexual abuse at the Air Force Academy had been ignored or largely covered up by leadership there for a decade.

In-person harassment and abuse continues today. From day one of Marine Corps boot camp, women are branded with one of three labels: “bitch,” “lesbian,” or “whore,” Erika Butner, one of the Marines United victims, told the Democratic Women’s Working Group in early April.

Former Marine officer, Joy Craig, was targeted by false sexual rumors as a result of her status as a sexually active single woman, and the rumors worsened after the first of two sexual assaults during her service. “Once you are branded a slut in the Marine Corps, that is a really hard scarlet letter to take off.” The derogatory comments followed her throughout her 23 years of service, even as she climbed the ranks.

The internet, however, allows sexual harassment to escalate to a new level, and the relative permanency of the internet makes it nearly impossible for victims to escape revenge porn and harassing comments, and the damage to reputation that both can cause. A woman’s colleagues or superiors may easily find images of her—or seek them out—and the reputational damage caused by the pictures and comments may follow women throughout their careers. The damage to victims of online sexual exploitation isn't isolated to their professional lives. Harassing commenters defame victims in public and semi-public forums, and vicious comments drive victims to make private or shut down their social media profiles.

The comments and identifying information about the servicewomen, including ranks and duty stations, also make it easier for service members to further invade their female counterparts’ personal and work lives by directly harassing and stalking them—whether in person, or through direct online contact.

In several documented cases in the Marines United scandal, servicemen requested photographs of specific women they knew or had seen on base.

In response to investigations and hearings, members participating in similar Facebook groups are refining their tactics.  

Five days after Marines United broke, a prominent commenter in a Marines United offshoot group posted a picture of a young female lance corporal wearing a bikini and lying on a beach. She’s looking into the camera. He identified her by name and rank. Someone replied to the picture, "Delete the name and rank fuckbag gotta change up the Mo here devil."

The fourth comment on the post said, "God damn did we not learn anything?"

The commenter who had posted the photograph responded, "But did you die!? No pussies ! So [shut the fuck up]."

The group, now called The Himalayan Cult, is still active as of publication.

 

RESISTING CHANGE

Marines United was not the first time Marines’ online behavior has raised alarm bells in Washington. In May 2013, Representative Jackie Speier, D-Calif., of the House Armed Services Committee, alerted the Secretary of Defense and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to a series of Facebook groups that degraded and harassed women. The sites collected thousands of comments that joked about raping and beating servicewomen, often linking to women’s personal pages.

Since 2013, the sites have flourished in plain sight.

Task & Purpose, a veteran culture site, wrote extensively about the issue in 2014, and noted that people who tried to have the pages taken down found little success. After Facebook removes a group, new ones crop up and quickly draw an audience.

Although the Corps identified 12 Marines for possible discipline after the 2014 Task & Purpose story, the upper echelons of the Marine Corps did not launch a branch-wide effort to tackle the proliferation of these groups or the culture that encourages them. Instead, “Information about these incidents were provided to unit commanders for appropriate action,” according to an internal HQ Marine Corps document leaked the day before Marines United broke, and which detailed the Corps’ public relations strategy for handling the scandal.

Marines United had survived one previous removal attempt before The War Horse’s investigation. John Albert, a Marine veteran, reported the group in September 2016. He was invited to join the group, and he was repulsed by what he saw. Facebook temporarily shut down the page in response to Albert’s report, and he created an anonymous post on Reddit to start a discussion about the problems he saw.

“I am so incensed at the members of our Marine community that would let this go on unchecked,” Albert wrote at the time. “If you were part of the problem then you are an absolute disgrace to our dead brothers. You use the title of Marine to dishonor our Corps.”

Some Marines applauded his efforts to stop the wrongdoing, but many commenters called him a snitch and vowed to fight back.  

“I can say with pure pride that MU [Marines United] is not only alive and well, but multiplying like a hydra,” one commenter responded that same day.

•••

Anna Hiatt, The War Horse's editorial director, contributed reporting.

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How The Marines United Investigation and Scandal Unfolded


Our story begins one day late in January 2017 when a Google Drive containing photographs of service women in various stages of undress was posted in the Facebook group Marines United.

How The Marines United Investigation and Scandal Unfolded


Our story begins one day late in January 2017 when a Google Drive containing photographs of service women in various stages of undress was posted in the Facebook group Marines United.

By Andrea Januta

This is the first of a three-part series about the silent epidemic of sexual harassment and assault in the Department of Defense.

PRE-PUBLICATION

Marines United sent shockwaves through the Marine Corps, roiled federal legislators, and captured media attention domestically and abroad when The War Horse and Reveal broke the scandal in early March 2017. But all parties are not aligned on how to address the exploitative behavior displayed in the Marines United Facebook group. Some legislators believe that because the Corps has had its chance to make change and failed to do so, it’s time that Congress take the reigns.

This is the story of how The War Horse's investigation and the fallout have unfolded, from the day in late January when a Google Drive containing photographs of service women in various stages of undress was posted in Marines United until now.

Marines United was a males-only and invite-only Facebook group with 30,000 members, including active duty and retired Marines, Navy corpsmen, and British Royal Marines. On January 30, 2017, one member posted a link to a Google Drive containing folders of images—mostly nudes—of fellow servicewomen, without their consent. Many of the folders were labeled with the women’s names, ranks, and duty stations. Anyone with the Google Drive link could access the folders, and the original poster invited Marines United members to contribute. Beyond sharing photos and information, members wrote dozens of obscene comments, including some statements that the women should be raped. Of Marines United’s 30,000 members, at least 500 members have been confirmed to have accessed the cloud service, Google Drive, containing the pictures.

The photos came from many different sources. Some were taken without the women’s knowledge, some were pulled from social media accounts, and some had been taken by the women or by an intimate partner and non-consensually distributed.

Thomas Brennan, The War Horse founder and a Marine veteran, was a member of the Marines United Facebook group and saw the posting go up and watched as users commented. He opened the Google Drive and took screenshots of the directory of folders—though not the images themselves—to send when he reported the Google Drive to HQ Marine Corps. While he was indexing the Google Drive, he saw a folder with the name of a female service woman whom he’d met in his capacity as a reporter. That’s when the gravity of what he was seeing hit home.

Brennan reported the Google Drive and the name of the original Facebook poster to HQ Marine Corps on January 30. The original poster was fired from his position as a government subcontractor, according to Maj. Clark Carpenter, a Marine Corps spokesman. The poster’s Facebook account and the Google Drive on which the images were stored were deleted, but the Marines United Facebook group remained live and active. Some members began posting angry comments directed at whomever had reported the Google Drive. Brennan remained in the group.

Major Clark D. Carpenter, a Marine Corps spokesman, sent this email February 1, 2017. It was leaked to Thomas Brennan. 

Over the next month the exploitative behavior continued. On February 16, a serviceman stood behind a uniformed woman who was picking up gear at Camp Lejeune and took pictures of her. He uploaded them as he stood there, and in real-time other group members commented on the Facebook thread and suggested that she be raped.

On February 21, Brennan drove to the Pentagon where he explained the story he was reporting and the evidence he had collected to more than a dozen Pentagon officials, including half a dozen senior field-grade officers. The binder of evidence he brought was filled with more than 500 screenshots of Facebook profiles of servicemen who commented on or interacted with the original Facebook post. The original post accumulated 364 “likes,” 35 “love's,” 34 “laughs,” and seven “wows.”

“Nobody seemed shocked,” he said. “I think there was a unanimous ‘oh shit’ moment.” Brennan allowed himself to be debriefed “in whatever way they saw fit,” and said he would cooperate with the NCIS investigation. If the Pentagon issued a formal request for the evidence, Brennan told them he would turn it over. But the Pentagon did not issue a formal request until two days after the story was published, on March 6. The meeting was about an hour and a half, and Brennan spent the rest of the day meeting with other Judge Advocate General (JAG) lawyers to talk about his reporting. That night he drove home.

Over the next couple weeks, Brennan continued to report, pushing the Pentagon for more in-depth comment about the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s ongoing investigation into the online Facebook activity. The Marines United Facebook remained live.

Late in the day on Friday, March 3, a 10-page “Office of Marine Corps Communications Public Affairs Guidance” by HQ Marine Corps was distributed to about 100 generals. The document introduced the non consensual nude photo sharing on Marines United and Brennan’s investigation. It provided talking points and outlined public relations strategy.

The following day, in order that the leak not undermine the story, The War Horse in concert with Reveal for the Center for Investigative Reporting broke the Marines United scandal.

Within hours Brennan and his family began receiving death threats and had to leave their home. Media requests began pouring in, and by Monday, the story had made headlines in more than a hundred media outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, and had begun to appear in international news outlets.

 

POST-PUBLICATION

Over the next week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert Neller rebuked Marines involved in the nonconsensual photo sharing.

Neller released a video statement on Twitter condemning the behavior on Tuesday, March 7, three days after the story broke.

“When I hear allegations of Marines denigrating their fellow Marines,” he said, “I don’t think such behavior is that of true warriors or warfighters.”

In this statement, Neller asked Marines to report harassment or abuse, and added that he expected leadership to support victims and to protect them from retaliation. He also called for officers to better prevent harassment, and to teach those in their charge the rules and the negative impact of this misconduct.

“If changes need to be made, they will be made,” he said.

The next day, on March 8, Representative Jackie Speier, D-Calif., demanded accountability from military leaders in a speech on the House floor. Meanwhile, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., sent a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee leadership to request a hearing on the issue. Gillibrand is a member of the committee. Both women have pushed for years to make the military a safer place for women.

By March 14, General Neller and acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley found themselves in the hot seat at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing while elected officials demanded answers.

Officials on both sides of the aisle came together in a show of bipartisanship as they emphasized the seriousness of the allegations and demanded a strong response. They interrogated the two leaders on details of the investigation, the culture that has allowed—and some might argue, encouraged—these actions, and what punishments could be in store for those Marines who participated.

“We know the Marine Corps cannot fight and win the nation’s wars if Marines do not respect and trust one another,” said Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., in his opening statement. “This is not just a matter of good, personal conduct, but a matter of military effectiveness.”

Both Neller and Stackley quickly denounced the misconduct, which Stackley called “toxic, predatory behavior” that “amounts to an insider threat.” The two testified they are investigating the matter through a task force and vowed to take continued action.

For the Senators, this was not enough.

Why, Gillibrand asked, should they trust the Marine Corps’s promises after it had failed to take action in 2013 when Congress had raised the same issues?

“When you say to us, ‘it’s got to be different,’ that rings hollow,” Gillibrand said. “Who has been responsible? Have you actually investigated or found guilty… anybody?”

In response, General Neller claimed responsibility for the lack of appropriate action.

“We are going to have to change how we see ourselves, and how we treat each other,” he said. “That is a lame answer, but, ma’am, that is the best I can tell you right now.”

 

POLICY SHIFTS & PROPOSED LEGISLATION

Following the story’s publication, Pentagon leadership has rushed to address charges that the Marine Corps fosters a dangerous environment for women. In response to pressure from elected officials, the press, and the public, the Department of Defense denounced the behavior and signed a new USMC social media policy.

The updated social media guidance made explicit that the Uniform Code of Military Justice specifically applies to sexual harassment on social media, in addition to all other forms of sexual harassment.

On April 19, six weeks after publication, Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley signed new regulations that criminalized distributing intimate photos without the subject’s consent in the Navy and the Marines. The regulations went into effect immediately.

An update in May to the Marine Corps separation manual made clear that service members who share explicit images without the subject’s consent risk dishonorable discharge, since any Marine convicted of the crime would face mandatory separation proceedings. The separation manual explains procedure for all forms of retirement or discharge.

Officials on Capitol Hill have also taken action. Senators and Representatives have demanded accountability in written statements and hearings. In the omnibus budget passed in late April, $18 million was added in defense spending for “consulting services” to assist the Corps in addressing this scandal. Details of how that money will be spent were not specified. In May, the House unanimously passed a bill that would criminalize sharing explicit images without the subject’s consent within the military. Protecting the Rights of IndiViduals Against Technological Exploitation Act (PRIVATE), which was sponsored by Martha McSally, R-Ariz., is awaiting hearing in the Senate. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has introduced a Senate version of the PRIVATE Act.

On June 13, Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, introduced Protecting Servicemembers Online Act of 2017. Like PRIVATE, this Senate bill would prohibit the distribution of pornographic images without the consent of the subject and harassing communication.

Gillibrand’s office confirmed after another Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Marines United that the Senator would be reintroducing the Military Justice Improvement Act. The bill, which she initially introduced in 2013 and then again in 2014, would change procedure for reporting sexual assaults, designating someone other than a direct supervisor to hear and investigate claims of abuse. MJIA was filibustered on the Senate floor in both 2013 and 2014.

But these changes are only as effective as their enforcement, which remains a serious concern for advocates who feel that to-this-point the Corps has not addressed the epidemic of sexual assault and harassment—and the culture that fosters it—as seriously as necessarily.

•••

Read the second article in this three-part series.

Anna Hiatt, The War Horse's editorial director, contributed reporting.

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The Impact of Our Reporting About Marines United


Because of The War Horse's exclusive investigation into the orchestrated stalking and the deliberate collection and distribution of photographs of active duty and veteran women, the sharing of nonconsensual images in the military is now illegal.

The Impact of Our Reporting About Marines United


Because of The War Horse's exclusive investigation into the orchestrated stalking and the deliberate collection and distribution of photographs of active duty and veteran women, the sharing of nonconsensual images in the military is now illegal.

The War Horse and Reveal broke the Marines United nude photo scandal March 4, 2017. The U.S. Marines Corps and Navy leadership and Congressional politicians responded quickly to the scandal in the weeks following publication. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the Commandant of the Marine Corps rebuked the Marines—both active duty and retired—who were involved in nonconsensual sharing of nude photographs of servicewomen.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D–N.Y., and her colleagues in the House, including Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Martha McSally, R–Ariz., are working on or have introduced legislation to address sexual harassment, assault, and exploitation within the armed forces. 

As time goes on, the story will develop, and The War Horse will continue to cover it every step of the way.

 

Banner photo credit: Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christian E. Moreno

Military Nude Photos

Bills seek reforms, harsher punishments in wake of Marines United scandal


Bills seek reforms, harsher punishments in wake of Marines United scandal


By Anna Hiatt

Published: June 16, 2017

This piece originally appeared on Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., challenged the commandant of the Marine Corps for not taking sexual assault and harassment in the military more seriously. Out of concern for victimized service members and veterans, Gillibrand’s office confirmed after the hearing that the Military Justice Improvement Act will be reintroduced.

The bill would block military commanders from being able to decide whether or not to prosecute service members involved in sexual assault cases, and move the decision-making power out of the chain of command. Gillibrand first tried to pass the legislation in 2013 and again in 2014; it was filibustered and failed.

During Thursday’s Armed Services Committee hearing, Gillibrand questioned why punishment hasn’t been more severe for the Marines identified as having participated in the Marines United scandal, in which veterans and active duty service members shared naked photos of fellow servicewomen without their consent.

“If you’re not taking these crimes seriously as an enormous disruption of good order and discipline, I fear that it’s not going to change behavior,” Gillibrand said to the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller.

The bill’s reintroduction comes on the heels of the Marines United scandal, which has prompted multiple congressional hearings regarding online sexual harassment and abuse by service members and the 418-0 passage of the PRIVATE Act in the House of Representatives.

PRIVATE would criminalize under the Uniform Code of Military Justice the non-consensual sharing by service members of explicit images. U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., introduced PRIVATE on April 6, 2017 in direct response to the Marines United photo scandal. U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and 100 other representatives co-signed the bill, with a wide showing of bipartisan support.

During 40 minutes of debate about that legislation, both representatives expressed their outrage about Marines United and past instances of similar sexually harassing online behavior by service members. 

“I got a letter back from the commandant which said, ‘I share your indignation,’ ” Speier said. “I didn’t want him to share my indignation. I wanted him to do something about it.”

Since Reveal and The War Horse broke the Marines United photo scandal on March 4, Speier has been a vocal advocate for the women whose photographs were shared without their consent on a Google Drive shared within the closed Facebook group called Marines United. The women were depicted in various stages of undress in many of the photographs, which were sorted in folders. Some were labeled by rank and duty station.

For Speier, the effort has been a crusade. In 2013 – four years before the Marines United scandal – Speier alerted the Department of Defense and the Marine Corps to the existence of a different Marines-only Facebook group where members made denigrating comments about female Marines. Gen. James Amos, then-commandant of the Marines Corps, cited difficulties monitoring social media and inadequate funding as barriers to change. Speier called his response “frankly unacceptable.”

The day after it passed the House, PRIVATE was referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee, where Gillibrand is a member. Like Speier, Gillibrand is a champion of women in the military and fiercely devoted to combatting sexual assault and harassment in the armed forces. In mid-March, less than two weeks after the Marines United photo scandal came to light, the Senate Armed Services Committee called the commandant of the Marine Corps to testify. Gillibrand challenged him during questioning.

“I have to say, when you say to us, ‘It’s got to be different,’ that rings hollow.” she said. “I don’t know what you mean when you say that. Why does it have to be different? Because you all of a sudden feel that it is has to be different? Who has been held accountable?”

PRIVATE will likely be rolled into the National Defense Authorization Act, according to Speier’s office. Gillibrand’s new version of her bill will also likely be added into the defense bill, said a member of her staff. However, neither has a retroactive clause, so no matter their fate, they will not affect the outcomes for service members involved in the Marines United scandal.

Military Nude Photos

Officials scramble to punish Marines responsible for nude photo scandal


Officials scramble to punish Marines responsible for nude photo scandal


By Anna Hiatt

Published: March 16, 2017

This piece originally appeared on Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

Officials are scrambling to figure out how to hold to account Marines – both active duty and retired personnel – involved in non-consensual sharing of naked photos on the closed Facebook group Marines United. On Tuesday, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., suggested stripping benefits from veterans who participated. The same day, in response to the revelations, the U.S. Marine Corps released an updated social media directive for active-duty personnel regarding how to behave when engaging in unofficial internet activity.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley during a special hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday if active-duty personnel engaged in “transmitting, receiving, viewing, possession” of photographs of a similar nature to those shared in the Marines United Facebook group would be subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Stackley replied that they would.

The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing was held just over a week after Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and The War Horse broke the news that some members of the closed, males-only Facebook group Marines United were collecting and distributing images of servicewomen in various stages of undress without their consent.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller reiterated that he took the online behavior seriously and that he and Corps leadership are dedicated to making change. But Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., questioned his pledge.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., joined at left by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., questions Marine Gen. Robert B. Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday on the investigation of nude photographs of female Marines and other women that were shared on the Facebook page Marines United. 

Gillibrand spoke sternly, and throughout the course of her questioning her voice grew louder and angrier. “I have to say, when you say to us, ‘It’s got to be different,’ that rings hollow. I don’t know what you mean when you say that. Why does it have to be different? Because you all of a sudden feel that it is has to be different? Who has been held accountable?”

She continued, “I can tell you; your answers today are unsatisfactory. They do not go far enough. And I would like to know what you intend to do to the commanders who are responsible for good order and discipline.” Gillibrand finished by asking how Neller and the Corps would respond.

There was a pause. He began to answer, pausing after a few sentences, and then said: “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. I’m the commandant. I own this. And we are going to have – I know you’ve heard it before – but we’re going to have to change how we see ourselves and how we do – how we treat each other. That’s a lame answer, but ma’am, that’s all I – that’s the best I can tell you right now. We’ve got to change. And that’s on me.”

Vietnam Veterans of America and Not In My Marine Corps both submitted statements for the record. Not In My Marine Corps launched two days after the Marines United scandal broke, and the group is inviting survivors of sexual assault, harassment, discrimination and abuse in the military to share their stories. Vietnam Veterans for America president expressed his disgust.

“It’s hard to imagine how someone in uniform could have so little respect for their colleagues and for their service that they would engage in this despicable campaign of cyber bullying. Yet, as the shock wears off, we are unsurprised by this ugly news,” wrote John Rowan, the national president and CEO of Vietnam Veterans for America.

During Tuesday’s hearing, McCain asked Neller what NCIS and the Corps leadership are doing to encourage other women who have been victimized to come forward. Neller pointed to the Armed Services Committee hearing as a demonstration of the Corps’ commitment to addressing sexual assault, harassment and discrimination. He also mentioned a press conference he held at the Pentagon addressing the Corps on March 10, nearly a week after the story broke. Tip lines are open, Neller said, and he would urge commanders to be receptive to reports of such abuse.

Stackley called the revelations “a bell ringer.” Military leadership plans to address the issue in every branch, he said, stating that on this the military would not “go backwards.” He affirmed when asked by McCain about how active-duty personnel would be held responsible that the Uniform Code of Military Justice could be invoked.

Echoing a video statement he made last week published by the Corps, Neller again asked that female Marines trust him, and trust that the Corps leadership will take action.

“I ask you to trust me personally as your commandant. And when I say I’m outraged that many of you haven’t been given the same respect when you earned the title Marines,” Neller testified. “To the men in our Corps, serving today and those who no longer wear the uniform, you’re still Marines. I need you to ask yourselves, how much more do the females of our Corps have to do to be accepted?”

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Strong responses follow news of nude photos shared by Marines


Strong responses follow news of nude photos shared by Marines


By Anna Hiatt

Published: March 13, 2017

This piece originally appeared on Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

Defense Secretary James Mattis rebuked Marines involved in sharing nude photos of fellow servicewomen in a statement to the Military Times on Friday. And the Senate Armed Services Committee has announced it will open an investigation next week into the nonconsensual collection and distribution of inappropriate images.

“The purported actions of civilian and military personnel on social media websites, including some associated with the Marines United group and possibly others, represent egregious violations of the fundamental values we uphold at the Department of Defense,” said Mattis, who, the Military Times reported, will meet with civilian and military leaders in the coming days to address the scandal.

The strong response came less than a week after Reveal and The War Horse broke the news that some members of the closed Facebook group Marines United were collecting and distributing images of female Marines and veterans, accompanied by lewd and sometimes violent content. The Google Drive on which the images were stored was taken down in late January, and the original poster was kicked off Facebook and fired from his job.

The Defense Department started a criminal investigation based on the reporting. The story’s publication last Saturday set off a media storm, with coverage around the world. Journalist Thomas James Brennan, who broke the story, spoke with the “Today” show, as well as the CBS Evening NewsCBS’ “This Morning,” CNNABC’s “World News Tonight” and The New York Times.

Events since then have underscored the difficulty of shutting down such social media activity.

The Google Drive of images linked to from the Facebook page was taken down after Brennan notified the Defense Department of its existence in late January, and the post containing the link to the drive was stricken from Facebook. However, soon after, a Marine at Camp Lejeune was stalked as she picked up her gear, and photos of her, with comments encouraging that she be raped, were posted on Marines United.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has requested that service members report to the investigatory body any incidents of sexual abuse or misconduct. The Marines United Facebook group, originally founded to help address and provide support for Marines considering suicide, was shut down after the story broke. Soon after, Marines United 2.0 launched.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter Wednesday to the committee’s leaders asking for a session on photo collection and distribution of photos without consent, according to The Hill. The committee is set to meet Tuesday. Members will hear testimony from U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller at 10 a.m. ET.

On Thursday, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., testified on the House floor, calling for Mattis to take immediate action and remove all Marines involved.

“This is not about sex or fun or ‘boys will be boys,’ ” Speier said. “This is about the Marines deliberately trying to degrade, humiliate and threaten fellow Marines. They encouraged stalking, distributed stolen intimate photos and reduced their comrades to a collection of body parts.”

The day after Reveal published the story, Brennan and his family began receiving death threats. His wife received rape threats. They were forced to leave their home.

Alleged victims of the nude photo-sharing effort have made statements to the press – both for print pieces and on television and video. Marine Lance Cpl. Marisa Woytek spoke with the “Today” show on the condition that her face not be shown.

A group of female Marines also created the Facebook page Not In My Marine Corps in response, inviting others to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment in the Corps and to engage in advocacy and prevention efforts.

“It has been laughed off by military leadership and members as harmless, expected, or invited,” the group’s press release says. “This behavior is not harmless and we demand an end to it.”

Neller condemned the online behavior in a video released last week by the Corps, slamming Marines involved in the scandal.

“We are all in 24/7, and if that commitment to your excellence interferes with your ‘me time,’ or if you can’t or are unwilling to commit to contributing 100 percent to our country’s war-fighting ability by being a good teammate and improving cohesion and trust, then I have to ask you, do you really want to be a Marine?”

Neller called for a culture change within the Corps and for Marines to step up and protect and support their fellow servicemen and women.

“For our NCOs (noncommissioned officers) and staff NCOs, I expect that you will support all Marines who report behavior that is prejudicial to good order and discipline, including conduct that is degrading to Marines,” he said. “Ensure they are protected from any form of retaliation, and do all in your power to prevent harassment or abuse of any Marine or sailor.”

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An Attack From Within: Male Marines Ambush Women In Uniform


The Defense Department is investigating the orchestrated stalking and the deliberate collection, and distribution of photographs of active duty and veteran women. Dozens of victims were identified by their name, rank, and duty station. Our exclusive investigation.

An Attack From Within: Male Marines Ambush Women In Uniform


The Defense Department is investigating the orchestrated stalking and the deliberate collection, and distribution of photographs of active duty and veteran women. Dozens of victims were identified by their name, rank, and duty station. Our exclusive investigation.

By Thomas James Brennan

The U.S. Department of Defense is investigating hundreds of Marines who used social media to solicit and share hundreds — possibly thousands — of naked photographs of female service members and veterans.

Since Jan. 30, more than two dozen women – many on active duty, including officers and enlisted service members – have been identified by their full name, rank and military duty station in photographs posted and linked to from a private Facebook page.

In one instance, a female corporal in uniform was followed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, by a fellow Marine, who surreptitiously photographed her as she picked up her gear. Those photographs were posted on the Facebook group Marines United, which has nearly 30,000 followers, drawing dozens of obscene comments.

One member of the Facebook group suggested that the service member sneaking the photos should “take her out back and pound her out.” Others suggested more than vaginal sex:

And butthole. And throat. And ears. Both of them. Video it though … for science.

Senior officials with Headquarters Marine Corps have verified that incident, as well as the distribution of photographs of other active-duty and veteran women through the page and links to a Google Drive.

The photo sharing began less than a month after the first Marine infantry unit was assigned women Jan. 5. It underscores ongoing problems of sexual harassment within military ranks and could hurt recruitment of women. Officials within the Defense Department confirmed it also puts service members at risk for blackmail and jeopardizes national security.

The activity on the Marines United page was uncovered by The War Horse, a nonprofit news organization run by Marine veteran Thomas Brennan. Within a day of Brennan contacting Marine Corps headquarters Jan. 30, social media accounts behind the sharing had been deleted by Facebook and Google at the Corps’ request, and a formal investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has been launched.

However, it is clear that the actions taken so far have not stopped the activity: Photos of the woman followed at Camp Lejeune were posted on Marines United on Feb. 16, more than two weeks after the linking accounts had been shut down. The Marine who shot those photos has been discharged from active duty, Marine Corps officials confirmed.

“We need to be brutally honest with ourselves and each other: This behavior hurts fellow Marines, family members, and civilians. It is a direct attack on our ethos and legacy,” Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, the most senior enlisted Marine on active duty, wrote in an email response. “It is inconsistent with our Core Values, and it impedes our ability to perform our mission.”

The service is deeply concerned about the damage the incident could do to the Marines, according to a document provided to generals Friday warning them of the upcoming story.

The 10-page “Office of Marine Corps Communications Public Affairs Guidance” lists resources for victims, including a website to report crimes, and provides talking points for other media and members of Congress – who, it suggested, will want answers. It also outlines another possible blow to come: inappropriate responses from Marines.

“The story will likely spark shares and discussions across social media, offering venues for Marines and former Marines who may victim blame, i.e., ‘they shouldn’t have taken the photos in the first place,’ or bemoan that they believe the Corps is becoming soft or politically correct,” it said.

Facebook messages seeking comment sent today to Marines United’s current administrators were not returned. At least three of those listed on the page were aware of the activity: Two participated in comment strings about the photos and another “liked” one of them.

More than 2,500 comments about the photos were left by group members, many of whom used their personal Facebook accounts that include their names, ranks and duty stations. Some invited others to collect, identify and share photos of naked or scantily clad servicewomen. Based on their profiles, service members who participated in the photo sharing are stationed around the world — from Japan to North Carolina — and across military branches, from air wing to infantry.

Dozens of now-deleted Google Drive folders linked from the Facebook page included dossiers of women containing their names, military branches, nude photographs, screenshots of their social media accounts and images of sexual acts. Dozens of other subfolders included unidentifiable women in various stages of undress. Many images appear to have originated from the consensual, but private, exchange of racy images, some clearly taken by the women themselves.

After the accounts were deleted, the Marine Corps contacted the employer of the Marine veteran who initially posted the Google Drive link on Marines United. He was fired from his position as a government subcontractor in the United States, according to Maj. Clark Carpenter, a Marine Corps spokesman.

The War Horse has spoken with five of the women in the photographs. Two said they believe former partners might have leaked images. Some said they worry their own accounts might have been hacked or poached. One said a co-worker, a male Marine, alerted her to the fact that the photographs had been posted.

The corporal photographed at Camp Lejeune learned she had been stalked only after The War Horse sought comment from military officials. But she said she thinks she remembers the man. She spoke on condition of anonymity, nervous about reprisal and becoming more of a target.

“He was standing close enough to smell my perfume,” she said. “This is going to follow me – just like he did.”

The Marines United Facebook page has been around since 2015 and limits membership to male Marines, Navy corpsmen and British Royal Marines. The group has a code of conduct pinned to the top of its page: no discussing Marines United; no threats, harm or harassment; and no racist and illegal posts.

The thousands of images gathered by some group members reveal information about hundreds of female veterans and service members, including social media handles and where they are stationed. These acts violate not only the group’s stated code of conduct, but also Facebook’s terms of use.

The initial link on the page to the image collection read:

Here you go, you thirsty fucks … this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is more coming.

Within one minute, commenters began posting: "Holy fuck, there is a god." The federal employee – the one who has since been fired – posted a response:

Anyone can contribute. They just have to (private message) me for their own personal upload link.

Some Marines promised free beer to contributors. Many tagged friends. One seemed to be tracking the number of photos submitted, writing, “Over 400 more pictures added,” to which he received the response, “Well Done Marine!”

“I know one of these chicks, her name is …” read another of the hundreds of comments. “Check her out boys.”

This distribution of photographs without the women’s consent can threaten their mental health, according to Dr. Frank Ochberg, a psychiatrist, founding board member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and former associate director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

“It impairs the ideal of a brotherhood and sisterhood, being able to count on somebody,” said Ochberg, who pioneered the post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis in 1980. “Within the military, this is a violation of family. … There are few organizations held to such esteem as the Marine Corps. They stand for honor, courage and commitment.

“This destroys honor. … This is sadistic. … This is disloyalty.”

In recent years, the armed forces have implemented programs and protocols to respond to reports of sexual harassment, assault and equal opportunity violations. But Marine Corps officials confirmed that none include procedures for dealing with sexual exploitation of this nature.

In 2013, U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., brought a similar problem to the Marines’ attention, an incident noted in the public affairs document sent to generals Friday. In that case, comments denigrating women were posted on a Facebook page. Gen. James Amos, then-commandant of the Marine Corps, responded by citing the difficulties in monitoring and tracking social media to investigate offensive content, as well as inadequate funding.

Speier would have none of it, saying his response was “frankly unacceptable.”

Subsequently, the Marines posted an article defining Marine social media misconduct and mined Facebook, identifying “12 additional Marines allegedly linked to racist, sexist, and/or otherwise inappropriate social media misconduct,” the public affairs document says. “Information about these incidents were provided to unit commanders for appropriate action.”

The Marine Corps and Department of Defense aren’t the only federal agencies battling sexual exploitation.

In 2013, Julia Pierson was the first woman to be appointed as director of the U.S. Secret Service. During her tenure, Pierson faced congressional criticism for a security breach at the White House in 2014, and she worked to improve the agency’s image following a prostitution scandal involving 11 agents.

Pierson told The War Horse that her experiences with civilian law enforcement and the Secret Service have proven that “there’s always a double standard.” These images, she said, “aren’t going away and (next time) they’re going to have an entry fee.

“This is way beyond stupidity and boys being boys,” she said.

The Marines needs to take steps to restore the credibility of their organization, Pierson said.

“They need to realize that this is an entirely new threat,” she said. “This is a coordinated attack on the organization. … This is a hunting club.”

The War Horse submitted multiple requests for additional comment to the defense secretary and commandant of the Marine Corps. Both declined to comment on specifics of the situation, citing the ongoing investigation.

However, in his email, Green added additional perspective, repeatedly denouncing the “demeaning or degrading behavior” of Marines United members and encouraging Marines — and all service members — to be “a voice of change” for the better.

“As Marines, as human beings, you should be angry for the actions of a few,” Green wrote. “Ultimately we must take a look in the mirror and decide whether we are part of the problem or the solution.”

“We need to realize that silence is consent — do not be silent.”