Lt. Col. Jason Amerine, a decorated Special Forces soldier, sayssaid the Army investigated him for reporting to Congress.
Now he has been called to testify at a Senate hearing on Thursday about whistleblowers and retaliation against them. Congress is asking him to report to Congress.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs invited Amerine to speak at the hearing, "Blowing the Whistle on Retaliation: Accounts of Current and Former Federal Agency Whistleblowers," which will feature federal employees who have claimed retaliation from the government for exposing wrongful activities, according to Amerine's invitation, which was provided to Army Times.
The FBI formally complained to the Army in January that Amerine potentially disclosed classified information, according to a letter from the Army to the office of Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., that was provided to Army Times. The Army letter does not indicate an alleged recipient of the alleged classified information.
Amerine said in a Facebook post he was being investigated for whistleblowing to Congress over "our completely dysfunctional system for recovering hostages." Amerine told Army Times that the Army told him he was being investigated for talking to Hunter.
In a Facebook post he said he was being investigated "for whistleblowing to Congress over our completely dysfunctional system for recovering hostages."
Army spokesman Ben Garrett said by policy the Army does not confirm the names of people under investigation, citing investigation integrity and privacy of those involved. In a His statement he also indicated the Army would not investigate a soldier just for talking to a member of CongressHunter.
"I note that both the law and Army policy would prohibit initiating an investigation based solely on a Soldier's protected communications with Congress," read the statement from Garrett, who said he could not elaborate on it or its implication.
Amerine's Facebook post said the FBI complained to the Army that he told Hunter about the FBI's "failed efforts to recover Warren Weinstein, Caitlin Coleman and the child she bore in captivity."
Weinstein, an American aid worker captured by an al-Qaida affiliate in Pakistan in 2012, was killed in a CIA counterterrorism drone strike in January. Coleman was captured while pregnant in Afghanistan in 2012 by the Taliban, and is believed to remain in captivity with her husband and a child born in captivity.
Amerine was involved with the Army's efforts to rescue hostages over the last few years, according to Hunter, including Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier held for nearly five years by the Taliban. But the Army wasn't alone: other government agencies also pursued remedies, with little structure to define roles and limitations of each according to Hunter chief of staff Joe Kasper. In a May 28 letter to Army Secretary John McHugh provided to Army Times, Hunter called Amerine a "tremendous influence" in proposed and enacted hostage recovery process reforms. He condemned the "baseless and retaliatory investigation," which has delayed Amerine's planned retirement from the Army.
In the May 28 letter, Hunter said Amerine's efforts were not appreciated by the FBI, which is "loosely tasked with recovering Americans in captivity," and that the Army's investigation, started in January, had gone on far longer than warranted.
"A simple conversation with Amerine could have avoided an investigation and any delay in his retirement," Hunter said in the letter.
Amerine has extensive experience in Afghanistan, stretching back to when his team helped Hamid Karzai fight a guerrilla war against the then-ruling Taliban in 2001. He received a Bronze Star with Valor and a Purple Heart in 2002.
More recently, in 2012, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell, tasked Amerine and his team — at this point working in the Pentagon — with looking into options regarding the recovery of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. That included possible non-kinetic options such as prisoner trades, said Joe Kasper, Hunter's chief of staff. In addition, he asked Amerine to develop general options, considerations and policy suggestions regarding American hostage recovery in the region, according to Kasper.
When it comes to hostage recovery, the FBI, State Department, elements commands within the Defense Department and CIA can become involved, Kasper noted.
Hunter, in an April statement, complained about the hostage-recovery process as well, in particular citing the State Department- brokered five-for-one trade in which the U.S. released Taliban members for Bergdahl.
"Due to infighting and disagreements among lead organizations, Amerine and his team struggled to get attention beyond the walls of the Pentagon and were ultimately sidelined," Hunter's April statement said.
The family of Weinstein, the man who was killed along with Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto in the CIA drone strike, backed the legislation introduced by Rep. John Delaney, D-Md, creating the new hostage coordinator introduced by Rep. John Delaney, D-Md.
In response to Hunter's accusation of whistleblower retaliation, CID spokesman Christopher Grey said in an emailed statement:
"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."
Hunter balked at the explanation in the Army's letter to him Hunter that it had to "initiate an inquiry or investigation" at any such allegation, countering in his letter to McHugh: "a simple conversation with Amerine could have avoided an investigation and any delay in his retirement."
"The Army is unable to say they screw up, despite how often it actually happens. They are going to try to manufacture something out of nothing to justify their nonsense," Kasper said.