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End commanders’ power to block military sexual assault cases, Pentagon panel says

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WASHINGTON — A Pentagon panel is recommending that decisions to prosecute service members for sexual assault be made by independent authorities, not commanders, in what would be a major reversal of military practice and a change long sought by Congress members, The Associated Press has learned.

The recommendation by an independent review commission created by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin goes against decades of vehement Pentagon arguments to keep cases within the chain of command. It was among a number of initial recommendations delivered to Austin on Thursday, according to two senior defense officials.

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