Lawmakers press Mattis on Marines nude photo scandal

Lawmakers press Mattis on Marines nude photo scandal
© Getty Images

A group of 11 House lawmakers is calling for further action from Defense Secretary James Mattis on the nude photo scandal rocking the Marine Corps.

“This conduct is wholly unacceptable and disgusting,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Mattis on Wednesday. “It is blatant sexual harassment and, by admission of officials within the Department of Defense, it puts these women at risk of blackmail – sexual or otherwise – and jeopardizes our national security.”

The letter was organized Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) and co-signed by Reps. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelDemocrats call on House committees to probe Epstein's 2008 'sweetheart deal,' suicide Democratic Women's Caucus calls for investigation into Epstein plea deal Epstein death sparks questions for federal government MORE (D-Fla.), Julia BrownleyJulia Andrews BrownleyKatherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent California Democrats unveil redistricting reform bill after Supreme Court partisan gerrymandering ruling WHIP LIST: The 132 House Democrats backing an impeachment inquiry MORE (D-Calif.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosDCCC names new head after mass staff departure The Hill's Morning Report - Trump ousts Bolton; GOP exhales after win in NC Ten notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment MORE (D-Ill.), Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.).

ADVERTISEMENT

Marines Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley and Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, and Neller is briefing the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

But the lawmakers on the letter want to hear directly from Mattis. Additionally, most aren’t members of the Armed Services Committee and want to make sure they, too, remain apprised of the investigation.

The scandal centers on “Marines United,” a 30,000-person Facebook group where Marines allegedly shared nude photos of female Marines and veterans. Some of the photos where taken and posted without the women’s knowledge and some of the comments on the page allegedly include rape threats.

The page was first revealed by nonprofit military news organization The War Horse, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is now investigating.

Mattis put out a statement last week condemning the "unacceptable and harmful" behavior and assuring that "all appropriate action" is being taken to investigate and maintain good order.

In their letter, the lawmakers said steps taken so far, such as getting the Facebook page shut down and initiating the NCIS investigation, are “important first steps” but “clearly not sufficient.”

They asked for an update on the investigation and any action taken by the Marines, Navy and Defense Department, including support services or counseling offered to affected women. They also asked the Pentagon to consider what further action should be taken and that any lessons learned from the investigation be applied to the entire Defense Department.

“Our continued operations in the Global War on Terror and against organizations like Islamic State mean men and women are at greater risk of suffering the psychological wounds of combat. The least we can do is ensure that they are not sexually traumatized by their brothers-in-arms,” they wrote.

They also expressed confidence in Mattis.

“As a retired and highly decorated Marine general, we know you take the motto semper fidelis to heart,” they wrote to him. “We know you will ensure swift justice is served and that the finest traditions of the United States naval service are upheld.”