Whistleblower: U.S. 'Failed' to Free American Hostages

by Joel Seidman /  / Updated 

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Lt. Col. Jason Amerine, a highly decorated special forces officer, recently told a congressional committee he feels the U.S. government has "failed" in its efforts to free American hostages held overseas.

"Warren Weinstein is dead. Colin Rutherford, Joshua Boyle, Caitlin Coleman and the child she bore in captivity remain hostages in Pakistan. I used every resource available but I failed them," Amerine told lawmakers at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing on Thursday about a deal worked out with Taliban officials last year that he alleges could have brought home all five US and Canadian hostages being held in Pakistan.

President Obama announced recently that two CIA drone strikes on al Qaeda compounds had accidentally killed captive American aid worker Warren Weinstein, an Italian hostage, and two terrorists who were U.S. citizens. Last year, a video surfaced of both Coleman, an American, who was then pregnant, and her Canadian husband who disappeared in Afghanistan in late 2012 asking the U.S. government for help in undated videos obtained by The Associated Press.

Related: Videos Showing Missing Couple Held in Afghanistan Made Public

Amerine testified that he started working on hostage policy at the Pentagon in early 2013, and that one of his missions was to help get Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl home from captivity. Bergdahl was the U.S. soldier held captive for five years after leaving his post in Afghanistan.

Five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo were swapped for the release of Bergdahl who was later charged with desertion.

Related: Travel Ban Extended for 'Taliban 5'

Amerine told lawmakers during a hearing called "Blowing the Whistle on Retaliation: Accounts of Current and Former Federal Agency Whistleblowers," that in his experience, efforts to free American hostages were bungled by interagency dysfunction.

He said he was stymied by the government's inaction to free Americans held hostage.

Amerine said, after exhausting all other options, he took his concerns to Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-California, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

"I am labeled a whistleblower, a term both radioactive and derogatory," he said. "I am before you because I did my duty and you need to ensure all in uniform can go on doing their duty without fear of reprisal."

The Army, he said, when learning about his meeting with members of Congress, responded by removing him from his job, suspending his security clearance, launching a criminal investigation into his actions and deleted retirement orders with a view to court martial.

The Army has steered clear of publicly commenting on the matter since it’s still an active criminal investigation.

"Lt. Col. Jason L Amerine's pay was incorrectly terminated due to the revocation of his previously approved retirement orders. This error has been corrected," Cynthia O. Smith, an Army spokeswoman said in a statement. "However, I note that both the law and Army policy would prohibit initiating an investigation based solely on a soldier's protected communications with Congress,"

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