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CNN Presents - Soldier Guinea Pigs/Homeless Vets/Betrayal of Trust
Aired November 22, 2012 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, I'm Victor Blackwell. Happy Thanksgiving. Here's what's happening.
In Israel, we've learned tonight a person is now in custody in connection with yesterday's bus bombing in Tel Aviv that injured 24 people. And the death toll from the conflict over the last 8 days rose today. An Israeli soldier died from injuries suffered before the ceasefire.
Meanwhile, the leader of Hamas declared the ceasefire a victory, declared Israel had, quote, "raised the white flag."
Ben Wedeman, our senior international correspondent is in Gaza City tonight. And Ben, I know there's a lot of celebrating there.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There was celebrating earlier in the day. There was a large celebration organized by various Palestinian factions who do see the fact that Israel did not launch a ground invasion and that they, the Palestinians, were able to get some important concessions like the Israeli commitment not to conduct military operations in Gaze, they consider that a victory. Those are important concessions in their opinion.
Other Gazans, not so happy. They've discovered, for instance, that many of their homes (AUDIO GAP). I met one woman whose roof was blown off by a bomb nearby. All the windows were broken. She said, nonetheless, she was happy there was a ceasefire and she hoped it would last for another 100 or 200 years.
BLACKWELL: All right. Ben Wedeman in Gaza City for us tonight. Thank you.
Let's get to Jerusalem now. Sara Sidner is there. Sara, what more do we know about the person arrested for yesterday's bus bombing?
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor, we want to get to the very latest information that we can give you right now about the investigation into who bombed a bus in Tel Aviv. The bus exploded, injuring about 24 people.
We now know that there has been an arrest. That arrest was made several hours after that bombing, which was yesterday. We know that the bomb was detonated by a cell phone. And we also know from police, they're saying the person that was arrested was from Ramallah, that's in the West Bank, someone who was aligned with Hamas. So that is new information coming in to us.
We also want to talk about the ceasefire. That bus bombing happened just as talk of the ceasefire was getting very, very close and we were expecting an announcement. It did not derail the ceasefire but now we're learning that the person responsible for it may well be a member of Hamas or at least aligned with Hamas or Islamic jihad.
We want to tell you, though, about the 24 hour ceasefire. That period has lasted and so right now the ceasefire still in place. People relieved that no more rockets or airstrikes are happening. Victor.
BLACKWELL: Sara Sidner in Jersulame. Thank you for that.
In other news, as many as 100 vehicles collided on a highway in Texas. Almost 120 people were hurt. A Texas highway patrol trooper tells CNN that initial reports at the time of the crash indicated there was dense fog. Look at this. She said that could have contributed to the crashes. At least 2 people have died, a male and a female. No names, no ages. We know that they were traveling in the same vehicle though.
The Defense Department has released e-mails that give us more details about Osama bin Laden's burial at sea. Now according to the newly released documents, the burial followed traditional Islamic procedures and also we learned that fewer than a dozen top officers aboard the aircraft carrier, Carl Vinson, witnessed the burial. The ten heavily redacted e-mails were released in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit initially filed by the watchdog group Judicial Watch.
Well, Black Friday deals - they're coming early this year. Maybe you're already looking through the circulars. Several stores, including Target and Toys 'R' Us, will actually be opening their doors tonight instead of tomorrow. And shoppers might see some shorter lines.
The National Retail Federation estimates that 147 million shoppers plan to shop this weekend; that's down from 220 million last year. And one of those we'll be watching is Wal-Mart. There's been an expected protest across the country.
I'm Victor Blackwell. CNN PRESENTS continues now.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CNN PRESENTS. "Soldier Guinea Pigs."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Private Zadrosni received a high dose of the incapacitating agent.
BILL BLAZINSKI, ARMY VETERAN: They were never supposed to talk about this. It was top secret.
ANNOUNCER: "Forgotten Heroes." This expensive slice of California real estate is supposed to house America's homeless veterans. So guess who we found sleeping outside.
"Betrayal of Trust?" Sexual assaults on the rise at the nation's prestigious military academies.
KARLEY MARQUET, FORMER WEST POINT CADET: I remember him turning off the lights and me asking, what are you doing?
ANNOUNCER: Women who feel betrayed by the military they committed to serve. And the Pentagon's battle to do something about it.
Revealing investigations, fascinating characters, stories with impact. This is CNN PRESENTS with tonight's host, Drew Griffin.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN PRESENTS HOST: Tonight, a special look at some of the men and women who've served our country and eye-opening investigations into the unbelievable injustices done to them.
We begin with the startling story of how U.S. soldiers were used as human guinea pigs. During the Cold War the military embarked on a top- secret program to test chemical and biological weapons. The researchers used animals. But believe it or not, they also used humans. Volunteers from the army who had no idea what they were signing up for.
Well, nearly half a century later, some of these human guinea pigs are emerging from the shadows with disturbing stories about what the military did to them then and how they're being treated now.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates.
TIM JOSEPHS, ARMY VETERAN: I enlisted. Joined at 18 years of age. It was the height of the Vietnam War era and I really felt a sense of duty to my country to go and serve.
FRANK ROCHELLE, ARMY VETERAN: I went straight to Ft. Bragg. It was just the thing to do. That was my obligation, that was my duty, as an American.
BLAZINSKI: I was drafted and I was sent to Ft. Sill and placed in the 85th missile detachment. We were supposed to be security guards for the nuclear warheads that were to go on the Pershing missiles.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three American soldiers -- Tim Josephs, Frank Rochelle, Bill Blazinski -- called to arms nearly a half a century ago, from different backgrounds, but about to share an experience that would change each of their lives at Edgewood Arsenal Military Base in Maryland.
BLAZINSKI: A couple of doctors from Edgewood Arsenal came and gave a presentation.
JOSEPHS: They presented it as not everyone would be chosen.
BLAZINSKI: There would be a guaranteed three-day pass every weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three-day passes are the rule. BLAZINSKI: No duties, no guard duty, no kitchen police.
ROCHELLE: This is what we filled out. They ask you about your criminal background, they asked you if you drank, they asked you about your parents, they asked you about your brothers and your sisters. Silly questions like, did you like your mother better than you did your father?
JOSEPHS: Well, I took the test and got chosen and you got a couple days off at home and then reported to Edgewood for two months.
GUPTA (on camera): When you got chosen, were you excited?
JOSEPHS: Yes, I was glad to go. It was like a plum assignment. You would get all the weekends off and the idea was that they would the test new army field jackets, clothing, weapons. Things of that nature, but no mention of any drugs or chemicals.
ROCHELLE: In the beginning, that's what we were -- we were told, that we'd be doing, testing equipment, not testing drugs.
GUPTA (voice-over): But Edgewood Arsenal was testing drugs. Beginning in 1955.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Edgewood Arsenal, the United States Army's Chemical Commodities Center.
GUPTA: This was the Cold War. And the United States wanted defenses against a possible Soviet chemical attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Psychochemical attack may come in the form of an explosion, an invisible vapor, a cloud of smoke. GUPTA: The U.S. was also developing psychochemical weapons of its own.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's a group of normal soldiers responding correctly to a series of routine drill commands. After receiving a small dose of LSD, they're confused and undisciplined.
GUPTA: Edgewood Arsenal was where much of the research took place. Using men like Tim Josephs.
JOSEPHS: When I go out there, just did not look like a military base. More like a hospital.
GUPTA (on camera): Describe it. What -- what was it that you saw?
JOSEPHS: Everyone's in lab coats. Some military doctors, I guess, and some were civilian doctors. But you were well aware that you were a private and they were a captain and up. And I expressed my concern right from the beginning. And they took me aside and said, you know, you volunteered for this. And if you don't do it, there's most likely prison and a dishonorable discharge.
GUPTA: You were intimidated?
JOSEPHS: Yes. GUPTA: Coerced?
GUPTA: You didn't sign up for this?
JOSEPHS: No, not at all.
ROCHELLE: I reported up there on September 3rd, and that started my ordeal. I trusted my government, I trusted the army. We were assured that we would not be harmed in any way.
GUPTA: They said, don't worry. Was that the right message for them to be giving you?
JOSEPHS: Not at all.
GUPTA: You trusted them?
GUPTA: And how about now?
JOSEPHS: I don't trust them very much at this point.
GUPTA (voice-over): And there's good reason for that. The army was testing substances ranging from LSD to nerve gas. On human subjects.
Coming up --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Private Zadrosni received a high dose of the incapacitating agent. In 15 minutes, he won't be able to focus his eyes properly.
GUPTA: What went on behind closed doors in the Army's top-secret testing program. Edgewood Arsenal. And the health problems these veterans say followed them from Edgewood and haunt them to this day.
GRIFFIN: During the Cold War, the U.S. military launched a top-secret program to see what sometimes dangerous chemicals could do to the body and the mind. Veterans of these tests say they faced health problems long after the drugs wore off and they say the government has not lived up to its promise to take care of them.
Here again, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the men of Baker Company. A special volunteer troop detachment at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland.
GUPTA (voice-over): For 18-year-old Army Private Tim Josephs, the tests started almost as soon as he arrived at Edgewood. Home to a top- secret military testing program using human subjects.
JOSEPHS: Sometimes it was an injection, other times it was a pill.
GUPTA (on camera): They tell you what it is?
JOSEPHS: The drugs or chemicals were referred to as Agent 1 or Agent 2. One test I was involved with, I was pretty much out of it all day, and that afternoon, I woke up with Parkinson's symptoms, immediately.
GUPTA: So you had tremor.
JOSEPHS: And aching in the limbs and arms, and it's a numbness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this flask is a compound called CS.
GUPTA (voice-over): Bill Blazinski was exposed to CS, tear gas, three times at Edgewood.
BLAZINSKI: The gas chamber looks familiar from the first test that I was in.
GUPTA: This Army film shows volunteers in the gas chamber at Edgewood, exposed to CS.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The effects were apparent almost at once. BLAZINSKI: Your eyes water, your nose runs, your skin burns. You start throwing up. It's a real mess.
GUPTA: In another test, Blazinski received an injection before being taken to a room with padded walls, like this one.
BLAZINSKI: I'm sitting on the bed, and I'm looking at the wall, all of a sudden I'm looking at it and it starts fluttering like a flag does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Careful control of these chamber tests resulted in a dose of only two parts per million.
GUPTA: Frank Rochelle tested a similar drug in aerosol form.
ROCHELLE: And I leaned over to a facemask. Inhaled and exhaled and inhaled and exhaled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A low dose of agent was fed into the mixing bowl.
GUPTA: This Army film shows a soldier at Edgewood named Carpenter undergoing the same kind of test.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within an hour, Carpenter's hands will feel cold, his face hot. Borderline hallucinations will come late in the experiment.
GUPTA: Like the soldier in the film, Frank Rochelle experienced hallucinations.
ROCHELLE: People were calling my name and there was nobody around. There were animals coming out of the walls. It appeared that all my freckles were bugs on my skin. And I took a razor and I tried to cut some of them out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is this business over here in the corner, and you're lying down and the looking at the wall?
GUPTA: In all, some 7,000 military volunteers or more were part of chemical tests at Edgewood from 1955 to 1975. The military tests did at least 250 chemical and biological agents during the Cold War, including potentially lethal nerve agents like VX and Sarin. Incapacitating drugs like BZ, tear gas, barbiturates, tranquilizers, narcotics and hallucinogens.
This Army film shows soldiers performing drills under the influence of LSD.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Notice the volunteer salutes several times. Five minutes his severe depression caused the medical officer to end his participation in the test.
GUPTA: And volunteers were ordered not to ever tell anyone what had happened at Edgewood.
ROCHELLE: The thing about this whole program, you were told up-front, you don't talk about this. You don't tell nobody about it. We couldn't even talk to our doctors. We couldn't even talk to our physicians.
BLAZINSKI: It was hammered into us that we were never supposed to talk about this. It was top secret.
GUPTA: These days, Blazinski says he's suffering from inflammatory bowel disease and a cancer of the blood. Frank Rochelle also has health issues.
ROCHELLE: I have breathing problems, I have nightmares, you know, that I still remember and think about the tests.
GUPTA: Tim Josephs has Parkinson's Disease, a condition that forced him to retire early.
GORDON ERSPAMER, ATTORNEY FOR EDGEWOOD VETERANS: The whole thing stinks. I'll tell you, Americans, if they knew about it, would not tolerate it, this kind of behavior toward our veterans. They would not allow it to happen.
GUPTA: Attorney Gordon Erspamer is suing the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs on behalf of Edgewood veterans.
(On camera): What do you hope to get for them in an ideal situation?
ERSPAMER: They're going to get nothing for themselves on this case other than perhaps medical care. They're not going to get any money. They want to get proper notice of the substances they received, the doses, and the health effects. Many of them have never been notified of anything. They were mistreated and they don't want to let this be swept under the rug and have everyone die and never see the light of day. That's why they're doing it. GUPTA (voice-over): We wanted to talk about the lawsuit with the VA and Defense Department. They declined to be interviewed on cameras, citing the pending litigation. They gave us a statement instead.
The Department of Defense said it has made it a priority to identify all service members exposed to chemical and biological substances. And the VA has offered free medical evaluations to thousands of veterans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the fighting front, ground action has been quiet today.
GUPTA: Erspamer says most Edgewood veterans have never been contacted by the VA.
BLAZINSKI: The VA just doesn't want -- they don't want to know.
GUPTA: And the VA has denied almost all Edgewood-related health claims.
ROCHELLE: Our government has not fulfilled their duty. They have a duty to find and recognize every person and they got a duty to give them medical treatment.
JOSEPHS: They're hoping that we die off. You apply, you get turned down, and it just goes on for years and years. And they want to wear us down. They want to use young men as guinea pigs and throw them away.
GRIFFIN: It's worth reemphasizing that the Edgewood veterans are not asking for money specifically. And although there are many delays in a case like this, in part because of the difficulty tracking down old documents from so many years ago, it is likely to go to trial next year.
Up next, another form of injustice. Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan back home and living on the streets.
GRIFFIN: For far too many Americans, the street is their home. A life bad enough for anyone but unforgivable when the struggling men and women have already risked their lives for their country. There are more 8,000 homeless veterans living in Los Angeles alone. Surprising when you consider there's a plot of land there. Nearly 400 acres that was donated. Free. Just to build a home for vets.
And as Dr. Sanjay Gupta discovers, that land could have helped the vet he met in L.A.
GUPTA (on camera): You're young. How old are you?
ROBERT RISSMAN, ARMY VETERAN: I'm 22. Almost 23. GUPTA: Almost 23. And you are from this area originally?
RISSMAN: San Fernando Valley, just up over the hill.
GUPTA (voice-over): Fresh out of high school, Robert Rissman signed up to fight for his country.
(On camera): What makes an 18-year-old join the army?
RISSMAN: I wanted to go to college and make something of myself and the army said they'd pay for it.
GUPTA: It's sort of a contract. I'm going to serve my country, but then --
GUPTA: -- my country is going to serve me.
RISSMAN: That's kind of what I was hoping for, yes.
GUPTA: Where did it fall apart?
(Voice-over): It began to fall apart in Iraq.
(On camera): You saw things that I know you don't want to talk about.
RISSMAN: No, I don't.
GUPTA: You probably never want to talk about.
GUPTA (voice-over): The war was winding down, but Robert's unit was busy with patrols. Then a close friend died in a bridge collapse.
RISSMAN: I got back from Iraq, and I was having a lot of psychological issues. I guess you could say.
GUPTA (on camera): Post-traumatic stress?
RISSMAN: Post-traumatic stress disorder.
GUPTA (voice-over): Back home at Fort Carson in Colorado, he started feeling like people were out to get him. A few months later, someone discovered Robert's illegal sawed-off shotgun hidden in his barracks. According to Army papers, Robert told investigators he was suicidal. At one point, he spent a full day drinking, then sat on the side of the bed with the end of the gun in his mouth.
RISSMAN: I wish sometimes that -- that I had died in Iraq. So that my life would have meant something, you know?
GUPTA: Forced to quit the Army, Robert ended up homeless.
RISSMAN: I went through some pretty bad times when I first got out. I was doing a lot of methamphetamines, my drug of choice. I was smoking a lot of dope. And I was getting in with some rough crowds.
GUPTA: And many of those rough crowds were made up of people just like Robert. Returning veterans. As many as 1 in 3 soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffers from traumatic brain injury, severe depression, substance abuse or PTSD.
RISSMAN: I was dealing with other people that weren't so nice.
GUPTA (on camera): Is that weird for you to hear?
RISSMAN: Yes. That's really uncomfortable, actually.
GUPTA: What do you -- what happens when you hear a noise like that?
RISSMAN: It startles me a little bit. But I know it's a truck.
GUPTA (voice-over): You see it everywhere you look. Ex-soldiers like Robert are desperate for steady care and for stable housing. So I was stunned to hear about a piece of property in west Los Angeles set aside for this very purpose. For veterans. For long-term housing. And it's literally across the street from the VA hospital.
(On camera): The story here actually dates back all the way to the 1880s. Back then the government wanted to create facilities for ageing veterans of the civil war. So former Senator John P. Jones and his friend, who was a glamorous heiress, decided to donate all of this land. Now back then it was mostly ranch land.
But today, just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, it is some of the most valuable real estate in all of North America.
CAROLINA BARRIE, FILED LAWSUIT AGAINST THE VA: It was solely an act of goodwill. An act of trying to take care of the veterans that they had from the Spanish-American war and the civil war.
GUPTA (voice-over): Carolina Barrie is descended from the heiress who made this gift. And she's part of a lawsuit against the VA filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The original deed includes a condition. That the land be used to establish and maintain a branch of a national home for disabled vets. And a permanent home for thousands is exactly what it was.
BARRIE: They had their post office. They had a trolley system that went all the way downtown ascending to the beach. Everything was provided for them. They had a special uniform. It was a marvelous place to live, and the grounds were gorgeous. I mean, they were just gorgeous.
GUPTA: Mark Rosenbaum is the lead attorney for the ACLU.
MARK ROSENBAUM, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION: At one point this campus housed as many as 4,000 veterans. But beginning with the Vietnam war era the vets were kicked out. They were literally kicked out.
GUPTA: Around 200 veterans live on the property today. But none of them in permanent housing. Alongside them, empty buildings. A public golf course. A variety of private businesses. Like a theater and a bus depot.
ROSENBAUM: This land has been utilized for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, for Marriott Hotels, for UCLA baseball. For exclusive private schools. They know what this land is about.
GUPTA: With veterans sleeping on L.A. streets, I decided to head to the VA to see why this land isn't used for their housing.
(On camera): People have said, look, that property is not being used for that purpose. Is that a legitimate beef?
ANNOUNCER: We now return to CNN PRESENTS with your host tonight, Drew Griffin.
GRIFFIN: We've been investigating a story in Los Angeles where there are more than 8,000 veterans without a home. Really surprising when you consider there's land there specifically set aside that house homeless vets. So why isn't that happening.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta went to L.A. to find out.
GUPTA (voice-over): I wanted the answers. For men like Robert Rissman. He's a 22-year-old former soldier and now a recovering drug addict. He was diagnosed with PTSD. He's in transitional housing with no idea what comes next. He's just trying to get back on his feet.
RISSMAN: I had to steal food at one point because I had too much pride to ask anyone. I still have that kind of pride. GUPTA: For vets like Robert, the ACLU filed suit to try and force the VA to build housing on 400 acres of land that it was given back in 1888.
(On camera): At first we called the head of the VA. And they said, look, we can't comment on pending litigation. We called the Department of Justice whose lawyers are handling the case, and they said they can't talk about it either. Well, finally the VA called us back and said their chief of staff wants to sit down to talk to me to tell us what they're doing to help homeless vets.
DR. DEAN NORMAN, CHIEF OF STAFF, VA GREATER LA HEALTHCARE SYSTEM: We've added 700 emergency housing and transitional housing beds. They have mental health programs, substance abuse programs and medical programs.
GUPTA (voice-over): They also have something else. They're known as rent vouchers.
NORMAN: Which enable us to put veterans in permanent housing.
GUPTA: In Los Angeles, each voucher, just for veterans, is worth more than $1100 a month. This year Dr. Norman says the Los Angeles VA has given out $2,000. Of course, that's $2,000 vouchers for more than 8,000 homeless veterans. (On camera): Doing the math, there's not enough of these vouchers obviously. If they all called you the day after this airs.
NORMAN: Well, it would be shocking. But be wonderful. And we will figure out a way to give them emergency and transitional housing.
GUPTA: If they're hearing you right now, what would be their next step?
NORMAN: The easiest thing is to show up.
GUPTA: Just to show up at the front door?
NORMAN: Show up at the front door. And we have a variety of numbers. I'm afraid to give you my secretary's number, but I will.
NORMAN: If you have any questions in Los Angeles it's 310-268-3284.
GUPTA (voice-over): Of course, I did wonder how many of the homeless vets are, in fact, seeing this. How many could even find a phone.
(On camera): There's been a lot made of this property that's just about a block away from here that I think is around 400 acres that was designed for veterans. It was to provide housing for veterans. And people have said, look, that property is not being used for that purpose. What of that? I mean, is that a legitimate beef?
NORMAN: Well, I'm speaking for the agency, and you know that's under litigation right now so I can't even comment on that.
GUPTA: The VA will say that we are going to end homelessness by 2015.
ROSENBAUM: Well, they've been saying that for decades. What the most interesting thing is that the lawyer for the VA walked into a federal courtroom and said, we think this case should be thrown out of court. We don't think there's a basis for the VA to have to provide housing.
GUPTA (on camera): This is the lawyers on the VA'S side. And they're the ones that are raising the flags saying, look, we're not sure this is possible as a starting point.
NORMAN: Again, I can't comment on the litigation. I wish I could, but I can't.
GUPTA: Do you think it's possible?
NORMAN: I think we have the resources with the community to end homelessness for veterans in Los Angeles. That, we do.
GUPTA (voice-over): Robert Rissman who is not part of the lawsuit says he hopes it gets resolved before his housing placement runs out. And he's back out on the street.
(On camera): You want a new life. RISSMAN: I want to get a degree. I want to graduate from college. I want to get a good paying job. Buy a house, you know, the right things.
GRIFFIN: In March, the federal judge said he would let the lawsuit go forward and said the government does have a responsibility to provide housing for vets. The government is appealing the decision.
As for Robert, we understand he's still doing well. He's still in the same transitional housing. He continues to take college classes and it looks like he's putting his life back together.
Coming up, Kyra Phillips' exclusive investigation to the allegations of rape at the nation's most prestigious military academies.
GRIFFIN: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently announced new aggressive policies to combat sexual assault in the military. Zero tolerance is the message from the Pentagon's top commander. But ground zero for battling the growing problem may start at the nation's most prestigious military academies.
Reports of sexual assaults at the academies rose by nearly 60 percent in the past year. And out of the 65 cases reported, only one resulted in court martial. That's why two young women say they're coming forward. In a lawsuit they alleged they were raped in their very first year at the academies. They speak exclusively to Kyra Phillips.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN PRESENTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): West Point. The Naval Academy. The Air Force Academy. Prestigious military institutions tasked with training future officers ethically, spiritually, and morally. But for these high school honor students, their experience would be far different.
MARQUET: I remember him turning off the lights and me asking, what are you doing?
ANNIE KENDZIOR, FORMER NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMAN: In the middle of the night, I did come to and he was on top of me.
PHILLIPS: Karley Marquet and Annie Kendzior say they were raped. Raped by fellow classmates they trusted and ignored, they say, by a chain of command that promised their parents they'd be protected.
RUSS KENDZIOR, ANNIE'S FATHER: And nobody, not a single person, not one, was looking out for her best interest.
PHILLIPS: Karley Marquet was not your typical teenage girl. That's her, cage fighting at 18.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it, Karley. PHILLIPS: An all-star rugby player, a championship swimmer and honor student, Karley could have gone to college anywhere.
(On camera): What was it about West Point that drew you to that academy?
MARQUET: Just knowing you kind of have your future set having that structure and that discipline but at the same time having people look at you, like, wow, you're doing something great for our country.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Her sister was a midshipman at the Naval Academy, her father a Marine. To Karley, they were heroes, everything she wanted to be.
(On camera): Do you think West Point let you down?
MARQUET: Yes. I wanted to be there. It was my dream.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): A dream that was shattered her first year when an upperclassman showed up at her door to talk girl troubles.
MARQUET: I kind of felt a little cool that an upperclassman wanted to be friends with me and was seeking my advice.
PHILLIPS: After sharing a drink, Karley says he convinced her to come to his room. Since he was an upperclassman, she trusted him.
MARQUET: I remember just getting more and more intoxicated and my judgment really started to become impaired. I remember him turning off the lights and me asking, what are you doing? And then he proceeded to rape me.
PHILLIPS: Karley says she woke up disoriented, in physical pain, and afraid to come forward.
MARQUET: I was scared it was going to ruin my career. I was scared if I said anything that there would constantly be a target on my back. I reached out to people, and they weren't there. I just didn't want to leave my room. I mean, he was right across the hall.
PHILLIPS (on camera): And you still had to work under him, take out his trash.
MARQUET: Well, it was part of our duties.
PHILLIPS: Chain of command.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Chain of command. Military ranks where senior students have authority over the one immediately below. So every day, Karley had to face the man she says raped her. But weeks later, Karley finally found the courage to come forward, she filed a report and requested an investigation.
MARQUET: And the reason I ended up telling someone is because I didn't want that to happen to anyone else.
PHILLIPS: Annie Kendzior describes herself as a girly girl who never imagined joining the military. An honor student and one of the best high school soccer players in the country, she was heavily recruited by top Ivy League schools, but the Naval Academy was the most convincing.
KENDZIOR: All their graduates that graduated from the soccer team went on and became pilots and Marine officers. It just sounded like, yes, those women are so powerful and so well respected, and I wanted to be that woman.
PHILLIPS: Annie's goal was to fly F-18s. But it wasn't long after arriving she realized that wasn't going to happen.
KENDZIOR: I could tell that there is definitely a bias towards the women. I mean, you're a female entering into a fraternity, a giant frat.
PHILLIPS: Annie says there were no derogatory names for the men, but women were called DUBs.
(On camera): What does DUB mean?
KENDZIOR: DUB. A dumb ugly bitch.
PHILLIPS: Were you ever called a DUB?
KENDZIOR: Every girl was called a DUB.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): It was definitely a different culture and Annie felt out of place. So when she got invited to go to an off- campus party she was in.
KENDZIOR: I was, like, OK, cool, college finally. I can live the college life for one night.
PHILLIPS: But Annie says she had way too much to drink. So when a fellow midshipman offered her a place to crash, she accepted.
KENDZIOR: I was, like, OK, it'll be fine. I trust you. You're an upper class, because that's what they teach you, to trust your upper class. PHILLIPS (on camera): So tell me what happened once he took you back to the room.
KENDZIOR: I just laid down and went to sleep. At one part in the middle of the night, I did come to, and he was on top of me. And I remember saying no. But then I just passed back out again.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Annie was afraid to come forward.
(On camera): Why were you scared? KENDZIOR: I didn't want to be the girl that got the athlete kicked out. Because we had been told stories about how that had happened in the past. And I didn't want to be that next story.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): For two years, Annie battled depression and thoughts of suicide. She had a secret she couldn't keep anymore and finally called her father.
R. KENDZIOR: And she said, I was raped. And I couldn't breathe.
PHILLIPS: Still ahead, the battle to change the system.
(On camera): How do you get it through these men's heads, if they rape, they will pay the price?
GRIFFIN: In a recently filed lawsuit, allegations of rape at West Point and the Naval Academy. Two young women say they risked their careers to come forward and request an investigation. They wanted the men they say raped them to be prosecuted. One year later they're still waiting.
Kyra Phillips continues our investigation.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): When Karley Marquet came forward to say she was raped at West Point, she believed her case would be investigated.
MARQUET: I remember the investigators meeting with my parents and they promised my parents that if he wasn't going to jail, they could at least get him kicked out of West Point with the evidence they had.
PHILLIPS (on camera): But he's still there.
MARQUET: But he's still there.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Annie Kendzior says she, too, believed her allegations of rape would be investigated.
KENDZIOR: I was like, OK, great, they're going to get him. I think good. PHILLIPS: But Karley and Annie say their alleged perpetrators were never punished. So now they filed a lawsuit naming former secretary of states, Robert Gates, the former superintendents of West Point and the Naval Academy, Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, and Secretary of the Army, John McCue.
The lawsuit claims there was limited support from commanders and failure to ensure sexual predators were prosecuted and incarcerated for their crimes.
Karley and Annie are not alone. Reports of sexual assault at the academies are up nearly 60 percent. And of the 65 reports investigated last year, only one resulted in a court martial.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: I ache for those former cadet and midshipman who have had their lives torn up. It shouldn't be that way. PHILLIPS: Congresswoman Jackie Speier has gone to the House floor 19 times.
SPEIER: We need to overhaul this system.
PHILLIPS: Demanding that Congress and the military change the way sexual assaults are prosecuted.
SPEIER: You report everything through your chain of command. So I'm raped. I go to my commander, I say, I've been raped. My commander can say to me, well, you know, I'm not going to pursue this. Or, take an aspirin and go to bed. As long as it's going to be in the chain of command, there's always going to be a conflict.
PHILLIPS: Her bill, the Stop Act, would take investigations away from the chain of command and turn them over to an impartial council of civilian and military experts.
SPEIER: If you're not going to have your assailant prosecuted, why would you want to come forward? Because you're basically setting yourself up to lose your career in the military.
PHILLIPS: Speier says for years her calls to action have gone unanswered, until Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta took office.
LEON PANETTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We've got to train commanders to understand that when these complaints are brought they've got to do their damnest to make sure that these people are brought to justice. That's the only way we're going to try to prevent this in the future, is to show that people can't get away with it.
PHILLIPS (on camera): How do you get it through these men's heads, if they rape, they will pay the price?
PANETTA: This place operates by command authority, and it has to begin at the top. And the message has to go down to the bottom.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Still, Panetta will not take investigations away from the chain of command, but he is changing the rules. Announcing new initiatives just one week after our interview.
PANETTA: What I will do is change the way these cases are handled in the military.
PHILLIPS: Here's what Panetta is doing differently. He created a special victims unit to investigate sexual assaults. Now instead of slowly making their way up the chain of command, all cases will begin at the level of colonel.
MAJ. GEN. MARY KAY HERTZOG, SEXUAL ASSAULT RESPONSE AND PREVENTION OFFICE: Everybody has to do due diligence. Commanders like I said have bosses. If that commander is not doing their job, you relieve their butts of command.
PHILLIPS: Major General Mary Kay Hertzog heads the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Office. HERTZOG: And you have to look at this every single day and you have to take what every victim says seriously. I want our victims to come forward.
PHILLIPS: But the changes in policy come too late for Karley Marquet and Annie Kendzior. Their military careers are over.
HERTZOG: That hurts me to hear that because we betrayed their trust and we didn't take care of them. And we need to do a much better job.
PHILLIPS: According to the lawsuit, as a result of the rape, Karley became depressed and suicidal. Unable to handle the stress of seeing her alleged perpetrator every day. Karley resigned from West Point.
MARQUET: It's like I felt like a blemish.
PHILLIPS (on camera): Because they knew you reported the rape.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Annie says she, too, became suicidal. She was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and, according to her lawsuit, was then forced to leave the academy.
PANETTA: It hurts the message that we're trying to get out there.
PHILLIPS: Because of privacy issues, Panetta couldn't comment specifically on Karley and Annie's cases, but he does make clear that blaming the victim needs to stop.
(On camera): Personality disorder? Academic separation? I mean --
PANETTA: I think that's part of the syndrome that we're dealing with, which is that, you know, once a decision is made that somehow this prosecution is not going to move toward, then you basically turn on the victim who brought that complaint and try to do everything possible to make sure that that victim doesn't hang around. Or really diminish them by somehow accusing them of having psychological problems. That syndrome is what we have to break out of.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): And for Karley and Annie, if coming forward helps with that mission, they want to be a part of the battle.
MARQUET: I know, with at least one person coming forward, there will be others that want to come forward and say something.
KENDZIOR: Because then they might get their perpetrators put behind bars, which is where they should be.
GRIFFIN: West Point and the Naval Academy say they couldn't comment on Karley and Annie's allegations because of privacy issues. Both women have request copies of their case files to learn more about why the men they say raped them are still in the military.
Well, that's it for this edition of CNN PRESENTS. I'm Drew Griffin. Thanks for joining us.