This week the Marine Corps has been rocked by a scandal involving Marines United, a private Facebook group in which some thirty thousand members (many active and former Marines) shared revenge porn of ex-girlfriends. In some cases, members threatened to rape fellow service members and in at least one instance a female Marine was stalked. Bounties were also offered for nude pictures of specific service women. Members of the group have told this author several cover stories ranging from, “this group doesn’t exist” to claims that the group was just about preventing soldier suicides. The journalists who investigated the group have had members threaten them and their families.
The scandal has prompted the Marine Corps to launch an investigation and NCIS and the FBI were as of last reporting unsure if they were going to press for felony charges or not. Some of the behavior in the Marines United group most likely violated federal and state laws. The Marines United group was shut down due to the investigation. Much of it certainly violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice that active duty Marines are subject to. In Washington, lawmakers are calling on Secretary of Defense (and former Marine) Mattis to kick those who participated in the illegal and unethical behavior out of the Marines.
Despite creating a scandal that has grabbed headlines across the world, some former members of Marines United don’t seem to be getting the message. Many openly taunted law enforcement and laughed over the attention they were receiving in the press. Finding those who publicly defended the behavior of these Marines was not difficult. Yesterday, CNN did a story about Marines United 2 or MU2. The original Marines United appears to have fragmented into smaller groups. At least some of those groups appear to be attempting to enforce rules that forbid much of the behavior that got the original group into trouble. Others are continuing as if nothing happened and nothing can touch them.
It has been this author’s experience in previous investigations that the military does everything it can to ignore sex crimes in general, preferring to pretend that they don’t exist. By doing this, the military ensures that the problem snowballs, getting more and more out of control. With every scandal, the military tries to pretend that this is the last one and it will all blow over. Of course, it doesn’t. For instance, Brian Jones at Task and Purpose did a very similar story to the one about Marines United a number of years ago. The Marine Corps pretty much shrugged it off.
For the Commandant of the Marine Corps to issue a public statement to the Corps sends a message. It tells his men that he is directly confronting the issue and that there will be repercussions. With many involved in the Marines United group laughing at law enforcement and continuing to exploit female Marines, I think this may be the last straw for the Marine Corps and social media improprieties. My suspicion is that the Corps is going to drop the hammer and drop it hard this time around. By this time next year, we’ll probably be seeing a dozen members of Marines United doing hard time.