Hunter statement on death of Warren Weinstein near Afghanistan/Pakistan border

Apr 23, 2015 Issues: National Security

WASHINGTON— Rep. Duncan Hunter made the following statement regarding the death of Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American aid worker held hostage by al Qaeda, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike:

“Warren Weinstein did not have to die.  His death is further evidence of the failures in communication and coordination between government agencies tasked with recovering Americans in captivity—and the fact that he’s dead, as a result, is absolutely tragic.  The FBI was the lead organization in the recovery mission, but, as I have said repeatedly, the FBI is incapable of leading these efforts in hostile areas.  And the CIA’s focus in this case and others is not on the successful recovery of Americans held captive.  Above all, this incident reaffirms the necessity to install an interagency coordinator—as I have proposed—in order to ensure there’s effective and constructive engagement at all levels. 

“This incident also calls to attention the fact that the only government organization seriously developing options to recover Weinstein and others in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region was within the Pentagon—led by war hero Jason Amerine.   In the lead up to the Bergdahl trade, Amerine and his team were developing plans to recover all Western hostages in the area—not just Bergdahl.  Their planning did not include a 5 for 1 trade, as occurred, but rather a 1 for 7 exchange that included Weinstein.  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.  And when the State Department-led 5 for 1 trade was initiated, the deck was reshuffled for all the other Americans in captivity in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.  This is just one more failure in a string of failures related to the Administration’s decisions and efforts related to Bergdahl’s release. 

“My thoughts and prayers are with Warren Weinstein’s family.  And my hope is that the Administration examines this entire incident with the understanding that opportunities were missed.”