A Green Beret war hero whom the Army placed under investigation after he blew the whistle on the Obama administration’s hostage rescue failures did not disclose classified information when he filed a counter complaint, according to a Pentagon analysis.
The disclosure is a new twist in the fate of Army Lt. Col. Jason Amerine. The Army high command at the Pentagon sacked him from his hostage rescue job and placed him under criminal investigation on suspicion of providing classified information to Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican.
Col. Amerine, one of the first Americans to land in Afghanistan in the 2001 invasion, filed a whistleblower retaliation Hotline complaint last January with the Defense Department inspector general.
In it, a Hunter aide says, he laid out everything he conveyed to Mr. Hunter’s office as he sought congressional intervention in how the FBI, State Department, Pentagon and other agencies try to win the freedom of Americans held by Muslim extremists.
The IG reported to Mr. Hunter’s office via email that the staff for the Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded his complaint “contained no classified information.”
The DoD IG has not completed its probe into whether Col. Amerine was the victim of Army retaliation that violated the Military Whistleblower Protection Act.
An IG supervisory investigator for whistleblower reprisals sent a letter to Col. Amerine this month saying it will not meet the 180-day limit on such investigations because the final report “is currently undergoing administrative and legal sufficiency reviews.” The letter said the report should be completed in the next three months.
Also still pending is the investigation of Col. Amerine by the Army Criminal Investigation Command, commonly referred to as CID.
Joe Kasper, Mr. Hunter’s chief of staff, said that probe was pushed by an Army general with whom the congressman has clashed on several issues, including a much-maligned intelligence collection computer network. The congressman views the Army investigation as a way to get back at him, Mr. Kasper said.
This is because it was Mr. Hunter to whom Col. Amerine went to blow the whistle on what he believed was a dysfunctional hostage rescue program. Mr. Hunter used the information to convinced the administration to appoint one official to coordinate all hostage rescue activities.
Mr. Hunter set up a meeting between Col. Amerine and the FBI. The FBI then went to the Army to complain the Green Beret was “outside his lane” and may have divulged classified information, Mr. Kasper said. The CID investigation ensued.
Mr. Kasper said the odd thing is, neither the IG nor CID has interviewed the congressman.
“The IG review won’t merit criticism as long as they are genuinely evaluating the facts, and we’ll know more upon their conclusion how much integrity their review process actually holds,” Mr. Kasper said. “But, so far, neither the IG nor the Army has approached Representative Hunter for a description of the extent of his involvement and conversations, so it’s impossible not to question both the IG or the Army.
He added, “There are no secrets or surprises here, and that includes the expectation that the Army will try to put the screws to Amerine. So it’s really up to the IG to show just how the system can respond when either the Army or an outside agency attempts to retaliate against a decorated war hero like Amerine, or anyone for that matter.”
A CID spokesman has said the agency is conducting a fair investigation, not a reprisal.
Col. Amerine testified before a Senate committee looking into reprisals against whistleblowers. He testified he believes the Army is determined to court-martialing him.
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