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Sen. McCaskill Continues To Block Helms Promotion to Air Force Space Command Senior Post

A U.S. senator said Thursday that she will continue to block the promotion of a star Air Force general for granting clemency to a convicted sex offender, a move that is likely to end the commander’s military career.

In a statement for the Congressional Record, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said she will place a permanent hold on the nomination of Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms to become vice commander of the Air Force’s Space Command. McCaskill cited the general’s decision last year to erase the sexual-assault conviction of an Air Force captain — an action that emerged as a flash point in the national debate about sex crimes in the military.

Helms became the first U.S. military woman to travel to space in 1993 as a crew member of the space shuttle Endeavour and served as a role model as she climbed to the Air Force’s upper ranks. But her handling of the sexual assault case angered many lawmakers and advocacy groups, who called it emblematic of a flawed military justice system.

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