A Green Beret war hero under investigation for unauthorized communications with Congress will testify on Thursday that the Army is out to court-martial him on criminal charges.
Meanwhile, Rep. Duncan Hunter, one of the lawmakers with whom the soldier spoke about Obama administration hostage rescue policies, has asked the Pentagon inspector general to investigate whether the Army is springing allegations against personnel such as the Green Beret as pure retaliation.
Lt. Col. Jason Amerine, the Special Forces soldier, is due to testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about what he considers reprisals against him as a whistleblower.
“After I made protected disclosures to Congress, the Army suspended my clearance, removed me from my job, launched a criminal investigation and deleted my retirement orders with a view to court martial me after I exercised that Constitutional right,” says Col. Amerine, according to partial remarks provided to The Washington Times by Mr. Hunter’s office.
“For nearly five months, I have received no relief from the military and there has been no transparency in their investigation of me. My pay was even stopped briefly after the Army deleted my retirement orders.”
Mr. Hunter, California Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee, wrote to Jon T. Rymer, the inspector general, about three soldiers against whom he believed Army Secretary John McHugh retaliated. He asked for an IG investigation into Mr. McHugh’s use of the Criminal Investigation Command.
“Specifically, my concern is that the Army — under the leadership of Secretary of the Army — has used CID for the purpose of influencing actions/outcomes and retaliating against soldiers,” he wrote.
He cited three soldiers:
• Col. Amerine. The officer worked in a small Army unit at the Pentagon and he devoted himself to developing policies to gain the release of Americans held by Islamic extremists. He came to believe the administration’s hostage policies were in disarray and told Mr. Hunter. The congressman proposed legislation to create a hostage coordinator to work with the various agencies involved, such as the FBI, Pentagon and State Department.
• Maj. Matt Golsteyn. Also a Green Beret, Maj. Golsteyn saw his valor awards and Special Forces tab stripped by Secretary McHugh. The officer was accused of killing a Taliban bomb-maker, but was never officially charged. He faces a board of inquiry hearing.
• Sgt. First Class Earl Plumlee. Sgt. Plumlee was nominated for the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award, for repelling an attack on a base in Afghanistan and saving lives. The MOH was endorsed by top commanders, including Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But Mr. McHugh downgraded the award to a Silver Star. Mr. Hunter said it was based on a “questionable CID investigation.”
Col. Amerine already has filed a whistleblower retaliation complaint with the IG. The Army probe began after the FBI complained that Col. Amerine was providing information to Congress.
“I have personally met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the developments leading up to the Army investigation,” Mr. Hunter told Mr. Rymer. “An investigation, I firmly believe, was not warranted, but continues to be unjustifiably delayed.”
Col. Amerine holds a special place in the history of the Afghanistan war. He led a joint Green Beret-Afghan team in the 2001 invasion, and fought along side Hamid Karzai, the future president.
An Army spokesman has said, “As a matter of policy, we do not confirm the names of individuals who may or may not be under investigation to protect the integrity of a possible ongoing investigation, as well as the privacy rights of all involved. However, I note that both the law and Army policy would prohibit initiating an investigation based solely on a Soldier’s protected communications with
The Army told Mr. Hunter in a letter that it was investigating Col. Amerine for the unauthorized release of classified information.
Chris Grey, spokesman for CID, rebutted Mr. Hunter’s charge.
“We reject any notion that Army CID initiates felony criminal investigations for any other purpose than to fairly and impartially investigate credible criminal allegations that have been discovered or brought forward,” he said.