WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is calling for answers from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) following reports that officers at Newark Liberty International Airport repeatedly abused and harassed fellow coworkers, including forcing them onto what was referred to as a “rape table.” Public reports of this abuse first surfaced earlier this year, but supervisors have allegedly been aware of incidents like this for years.
Click HERE to read McCaskill’s letter to CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.
“These reports of abuse are appalling—we’ve got to get to the bottom of what was going on at the Newark Airport and why it has apparently continued unchecked for years,” said McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosecutor in Missouri. “The men and women serving our country at Customs and Border Protection need to be able to focus all their attention on stopping threats to our nation—and this completely unacceptable harassment and hazing jeopardizes that mission.”
In her letter to McAleenan, McCaskill detailed the reports of harassment and assaults against CBP officers at Newark Liberty International Airport, the agency’s failure to stop the incidents and punish those responsible, and officers’ fear of retaliation if they reported the assaults. “In this case, I am concerned that senior leaders at CBP knowingly maintained an environment that allowed assault and harassment to take place despite complaints,” McCaskill said. She requested that CBP provide information and a briefing by July 28, 2017 on the alleged assaults and the agency’s whistleblower and sexual harassment policies.
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has oversight jurisdiction over CBP. McCaskill has long been an outspoken advocate for victims of sexual violence, and in recent years has crafted legislation to curb sexual assault and harassment both in the military and on college university campuses. In 2016, McCaskill’s Military Retaliation Prevention Act—which she introduced with Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa to help protect survivors of sexual assault from peer-to-peer retaliation—was approved by the Senate as part of the 2017 national defense bill. Earlier this year, McCaskill joined Ernst and Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada to introduce a fix to military law to better guard against “revenge porn” following the Marines United scandal earlier this year. Before joining the Senate, McCaskill worked as a courtroom prosecutor in Kansas City specializing in sex crimes, and served as Jackson County Prosecutor, establishing the Kansas City region’s first law enforcement unit dedicated to combatting domestic and sexual violence.