Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) will send a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis in the next few days, requesting information about efforts to quell online harassment in the military.
McCaskill announced the letter Tuesday, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Marine Corps’s nude photo-sharing scandal, and said she’ll ask her colleagues to sign on.
“What are you all doing internally to monitor online conduct that is related to active service members and how are you addressing that in terms of not just the vitriol that was on these sites, but also the cyber bullying that could be impacting morale?” she said she’ll ask Mattis.
McCaskill told The Hill she will send the letter to Mattis “either today or tomorrow,” in the hopes it will help deter those in the military from future online harassment.
“[We want] those in the military to know that this stuff’s being watched. It’ll change behaviors,” she said.
“They are investigating this kind of problem in all of the active services, but I want to make sure that I go on the record about that, that we should be” investigating, she added.
Several lawmakers have already pledged to sign onto the McCaskill letter, including Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenWicker: Biden comments on Ukraine caused 'distress' for both parties Senators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Biden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions MORE (D-N.H.) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) – who pushed for oversight and accountability from Marine Corps leaders at Tuesday’s hearing.
“No one’s been held accountable for this scandal,” Gillibrand told The Hill. “I expect the services to fully investigate and fully prosecute, but nothing’s going to change until you start holding commanders accountable that are allowing this criminal behavior to take place. Obviously there’s no good order of discipline under these commands and it has to change.”
The committee heard testimony Tuesday from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley and Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green about “Marines United,” a 30,000-person Facebook group the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating.
Members of the online group shared photos of nude female Marines and veterans and their personal information, and some comments on the page allegedly include rape threats. The scandal was first reported earlier this month by nonprofit military news outlet The War Horse.
The committee hearing also included a closed session, which Shaheen said included more details about the Marine Corps investigation into the scandal.
But Gillibrand said the closed session did nothing to allay her fears.
“It was the same material that was covered in the open session,” she said.