The Army’s probe into a Green Beret war hero on a complaint he divulged classified information is focusing on a Powerpoint presentation he made on then-captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
The Army has not charged Lt. Col. Jason Amerine, one of the first soldiers to invade Afghanistan in 2001. But earlier this month its Criminal Investigations Command (CID) did book him, taking fingerprints and a mug shot for its file.
Col. Amerine, whom the Army stripped of his Pentagon job and exiled to a Northern Virginia office, posted a photo of himself on Facebook displaying an ink-stained hand.
“A single finger with blue ink meant a lot to me in the Afghan elections,” he wrote, referring to the country’s election system. “I suppose my hands covered in black ink today from being ‘processed’ by CID as part of the investigation will always have its own meaning.”
Joe Kasper, chief of staff for Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, who has gone to bat for a number of investigated Green Berets, called the finger printing another act of retaliation because the file could hurt Col. Amerine’s employment chances.
“Processing alone, as the Army did in this case, could have real long term impact and the Army knows it,” he said. “It might be a small thing overall, but it’s a shameful abuse of authority.”
A CID spokesman said the agency does not confirm investigations.
Col. Amerine worked in a unit trying to win Sgt. Bergdahl’s release. He contacted Rep. Duncan Hunter, a former Marine Corps officer, and told him about a disjointed hostage-rescue operation inside the Obama administration.
Mr. Hunter hooked him up with the FBI, which after hearing his complaints, filed an informal complaint with Army headquarters, accusing him of discussing classified information with Mr. Hunter’s office.
Mr. Kasper said he believes the CID is no longer investigating the FBI complaint. Instead, it is looking at a briefing on Sgt. Bergdahl he provided to other Army soldiers. Mr. Kasper said the briefing had been cleared.
Mr. Kasper said CID is also looking at two documents he submitted to the Pentagon inspector general’s office, with whom the Green Beret filed a whistleblower retaliation complaint against the Army.
One of the documents is his official complaint, which the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has ruled does not contain classified information.
The Obama administration ultimately won Sgt. Bergdahl’s release from Pakistan’s Haqqani terror family by swapping five Taliban commanders.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hunter, in a letter Monday to Pentagon IG Jon T. Rymer, accused the Army of clamping a gag order on another Green Beret, Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, amid much negative press directed at the top brass.
“I have personally obtained confirmation of a gag order and I ask that you immediately investigate its origins,” Mr. Hunter said. “Also, I hope you will send a message to the Army that soldiers are permitted to discuss oversight issues with Congress as appropriate.”
Sgt. Martland was reprimanded for shoving an Afghan police commander after a mother came to the sergeant’s base and accused the policeman of raping her 11-year-old son and beating her.
Despite his stellar record, the Army is ending his career because of that one blemish.
At Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C., Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, a spokesman, said, “There is not a gag order. All members of U.S. Army Special Operations Command are briefed upon arrival and throughout their assignment that media queries are routed through their unit’s public affairs office.”
On the Amerine investigation, Mr. Hunter told Mr. Rymer the Army is basing its probe on information the Green Beret provided to the IG and to Congress. This can have a chilling effect on military personnel exercising their rights, he said.
“It violates a shared trust and respect and further shows that Army investigators will choose to seek retaliation and punishment without hesitation or concern for the facts,” the congressman said.
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