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Why Sen. Carl Levin backs military's position on sexual-assault cases

Sen. Carl Levin (D), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, believes military sexual-assault cases should remain under the control of the chain of command. Many in his party disagree. What's his rationale?

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    Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michigan speaks at a Monitor Breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel on July 16, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
    Michael Bonfigli /The Christian Science Monitor
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Sen. Carl Levin (D) of Michigan is chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee and a member of the intelligence panel. He was the guest at the July 16 Monitor Breakfast.

Why he opposes taking military sexual-assault cases out of the chain of command's control:

"[I]f you remove the chain of command, you are taking away ... the club that they need to change the culture, which is ... being able to prosecute someone."

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The need to challenge the defense budget:

"We ought to look at the budget much more specifically than to start with an assumption that the current shares [for individual services] ... should continue."

National Security Agency technology that allows it to keep a record of all calls Americans make or receive:

"There are pluses to it in terms of catching bad guys, and there are some minuses to it in terms of abuses.... If this technology were in the hands of [former FBI Director] J. Edgar Hoover, would I feel comfortable? No."

US policy toward rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:

"I urged the president to convene a group of countries that want Assad to be removed.... It is a plan [aimed at] increasing the military pressure by helping the Syrian opposition to become stronger."

How he rates the performance of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel:

"He is doing great.... He has won the support of my Republican colleagues who voted against him."

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