Franken Shrugs Off AFRICOM's Sexual Assualt Problem
As the Intercept reported last year, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) severely unreported sexual assault allegations to the Pentagon. The Intercept wrote, "between 2010 and 2020, the year of the most recent report, the Pentagon lists just 73 cases of sexual assault in the AFRICOM area of operations. Yet the files obtained by The Intercept and Type Investigations show that military criminal investigators logged at least 158 allegations of sexual offenses in the AFRICOM area of operations during that same period."
Mike Franken was the Deputy Commander of AFRICOM from June 2015 to August 2017 - putting him right in the spotlight.
Today, the Des Moines Register reported that in response to questions raised about his involvement, Franken said he didn't know the specifics of the Intercept report. Franken followed up by saying, “We’ve got an extensive training program. And, matter of fact, oftentimes people complain how much time we spend on this..."
This is a slap in the face to all of the victims who went unheard because AFRICOM didn't report their case to the Pentagon. The 158 allegations occurred in 22 separate countries in Africa - 13 of which did not appear in the Pentagon report. Most of 158 allegations "represent cases in which a member of the armed forces, or someone assaulted by them, wanted to seek justice through the military system."
Franken still has lots of questions to answer:
- Did he know AFRICOM was underreporting sexual misconduct? If so, when did he find out?
- What role did he have in the report to the Pentagon?
- Was he ever a subject of an investigation into this scandal?
- Did he ever try to stop this?
"Franken is deflecting from Iowans trying to hold his feet to the fire. The 'extensive' training that Franken touts, obviously didn't help these victims," said Republican Party of Iowa Communications Director Kollin Crompton. "Franken needs to start telling Iowans what he knew and when."