Former official on “roar” of 223 women from national security community

Only on “CBS This Morning,” we are hearing from two of the women who signed an open letter pushing to stop sexual harassment in the national security community. Two hundred twenty-three female national security professionals signed the letter, claiming they survived sexual misconduct or knew someone who had.

“If folks haven’t been directly affected, they know somebody who has, and that whisper network has become more than a whisper. It’s become a roar,” Jenna Ben-Yehuda, a former intel analyst and State Department official, told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan.

Former intel analyst and State Department official Jenna Ben-Yehuda 

CBS News

The letter said: “Many women are held back or driven from this field by men who use their power to assault at one end of the spectrum and perpetuate-sometimes unconsciously-environments that silence, demean, belittle or neglect women at the other.”

They are all highly skilled professionals trained by the U.S. government to help protect Americans, but they issued a call for America to help protect them.

“What do you think was the trigger?” Brennan asked.

“You know, I think part of this is this national moment. All of these women shouldn’t have to put on armor to be with their co-workers,” Ben-Yehuda said.

Ben-Yehuda said the wave of recent high-profile sexual harassment cases sparked a conversation among her fellow national security professionals.

“It took so little effort to get so many women. Two hundred twenty-three women,” Ben-Yehuda said.

Each of those officials, including nearly 70 current and former U.S. ambassadors as well as individuals from the CIA, Pentagon and White House, signed their name urging action.

The letter titled “#metoonatsec” is co-authored by Ben-Yehuda, who wrote: “We, too, are survivors of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse or know others who are. This is not just a problem in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, newsrooms or Congress. It is everywhere. … How will you protect, empower, and defend the women who serve our nation?”

Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley

CBS News

Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley’s said she grappled with multiple sexual harassment experiences.

“I didn’t tell people at work because it was just one of those things that you had to deal with,” Abercrombie-Winstanley said. She said that despite rising to…

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