How the System Went After a War Hero

Screenshot of Lt. Colonel Jason Luke Amerine
Screenshot of Lt. Colonel Jason Luke Amerine testifying to a summer 2015 Senate hearing.

Over at War on the Rocks POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian and I write about how our military whistleblower protections have fundamentally failed if even a war hero can’t speak to Congress without fear of retaliation:

Lt. Col. Jason Amerine earned a Bronze Star with a V device and Purple Heart for his heroic actions during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan in a battle that was immortalized in a best-selling book, The Only Thing Worth Dying For. He’s a Green Beret who was a guest of President George W. Bush at the State of the Union Address in 2002. He taught at West Point and even inspired the Army to create an action figure in his likeness.

The word “hero” gets thrown around a lot and is probably overused, but there’s not much debate when it comes to applying it to Amerine.

None of that, however, seemed to matter in September when Amerine was told to report to Army Criminal Investigation Command. There were no official charges against him but that did not stop the Army from trying to humiliate him by taking his mug shot, fingerprints, and DNA in order to list him in a criminal database.

His alleged crime? He had spoken to a Member of Congress about the U.S. government’s broken and dysfunctional hostage recovery process.

Fortunately the Project On Government Oversight worked with Congress, lawyers at Katz, Marshall and Banks and a few courageous military officers behind the scenes to intervene in this case, but we must fix the laws that apply to military whistleblowers so that they actually work.

Photograph of Mandy Smithberger

By: Mandy Smithberger, Director, CDI Straus Military Reform Project

Mandy Smithberger is the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight.

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