Duncan Hunter

Duncan Hunter

CALIFORNIA's 50th DISTRICT

A Record of Success

2016/05/16

For Congress, there’s a lot on the agenda—budgets, authorizations and program reforms.  Most of these issues are the focus of national attention, inciting news reports and headlines and prompting editorialized commentary.  These issues are a constant in the political arena and regularly discussed in our communities, and with a national election months away, there’s added enthusiasm and interest among voters.  Such excitement is great for American politics.

Amid the back and forth, I also have directed attention and energy to other causes that don’t always attract the national spotlight—but have deep significance in many ways.  Throughout my career in Congress, I have taken what have been traditionally identified as personnel cases within the armed forces and exposed the broader policy implications unique to each situation, all while striving to achieve resolution for the individuals involved.

Army SFC Charles Martland

One of my biggest accomplishments involved the case of Army Sergeant First Class and Green Beret Charles Martland.  As a Special Forces operator in Afghanistan, Charles was recognized for valor numerous times.  He was even rated second among 400 Special Forces instructors, making him an obvious asset to the U.S. Army.      

Charles' biggest test occurred in 2011, when an Afghan woman, visibly bruised, approached U.S. forces with her son who had been raped by a corrupt and U.S. supported Local Police Commander.  He and another Green Beret confronted the commander, and the commander admitted to repeatedly raping the boy and then laughed it off.  Having dealt with another rape incident near his outpost and an honor killing—two severe human rights violations—Charles forcibly removed the commander and instructed him never to come back.  For doing that, the Army relieved Charles and years later attempted to expel him from the service.  

The issue was brought to my attention—and I immediately connected with Charles and other Green Berets.  A mix of letters and media followed, including this article in the New York Times, and I made several television appearances with Charles’ teammate, Captain Danny Quinn (watch one here).  Ultimately, I identified deficiencies in the Army’s review process and a decision was recently made, after three extensions during consideration of the case, to retain Charles.  In his only public statement after the decision, Charles said:

"I am real thankful for being able to continue to serve," said Martland when reached on the telephone by Fox News.  "I appreciate everything Congressman Duncan Hunter and his Chief of Staff, Joe Kasper did for me."     

I was honored for the opportunity to fight for Charles, but the greatest honor came from Charles himself more recently, when he notified me that he’ll be naming one of his expected twin boys, Duncan Hunter Martland.  Read about it here.  From the beginning, Charles has inspired me and I know he’ll be no less inspirational to his sons.  He’s a superb role model and an excellent dad already.  His twin boys, just like his family now, can always be proud of their father, knowing that he stood up to a corrupt commander in Afghanistan.  He did what was right, even at the risk of his own career.

And as a result of this intervention, the Defense Department Inspector General is now reviewing U.S. policies regarding the prevalence of rape in Afghanistan—and I also introduced legislation to state it is the policy of the U.S. government that child rape or human rights violations will not be permitted or tolerated on U.S. bases or outposts.  The measure is under discussion and receiving support from my colleagues. 

As a parent, a former Marine who served three tours in combat, and a Member of Congress sitting on the Armed Services Committee, I am relieved that Charles will be retained and I am truly grateful for his confidence throughout this process.  America needs soldiers like Charles in the fight and he’ll soon rejoin his brothers to “free the oppressed (the motto of Special Forces),” —which is all he wanted.     

LT COL Jason Amerine 

Jason was a Green Beret who was among the first boots on the ground in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Jason and I were working to change U.S. hostage policy after several public beheadings by the Islamic State and U.S. government failures in those cases, as well as failures in the effort to recover Bowe Bergdahl.  We were successful, but the Army and the FBI tried to stop our coordination.  Amerine was accused of sharing sensitive information but was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.  

MAJ Matt Golsteyn

Matt was another Green Beret awarded the Distinguished Services Cross for bravery in Afghanistan.  After a bomb maker killed three Marines in Afghanistan, the Army alleged that Matt killed the bomb maker outside the rules of engagement (ROE).  Matt was later cleared of any ROE violation, but his case prompted a lengthy discussion on the rules for targeting the enemy.  And because his valor award was stripped, it also prompted a discussion regarding the awards process  and the proper authority of a Service Secretary.   

Laughlin Three

Three Air Force instructor pilots were required to unlock their personal cell phones for an investigation into other individuals suspected of having an unprofessional relationship.  After doing so, investigators discovered personal texts among friends that, without any context, implied illegal drug use.  However, the pilots submitted to tests and searches, proving they were not taking drugs, but the pilots were still grounded, their wings were revoked, and the Air Force began a lengthy disciplinary process that would have destroyed their careers.  After my intervention, the pilots were absolved of any real wrongdoing, their wings restored and their names cleared.  The case prompted a renewed focus on personal privacy rights, specifically the rights of service personnel on active duty, which is still ongoing. 

CAPT Will Swenson

Will was nominated for the Medal of Honor in Afghanistan.  What transpired will leave you shocked.   Read it for yourself here, courtesy of the Daily Beast.  All of it true.       

SGT 1st Class Earl Plumlee

Earl was also nominated for the Medal of Honor for heroism in Afghanistan, but despite having the support of the entire military command, Army bureaucrats in the Pentagon downgraded him to a Sliver Star—two awards below the Medal of Honor.  I requested an investigation by the Inspector General, which is underway.  Clearly, as Earl’s case demonstrates, the awards process has been politicized to the disadvantage of the American heroes it’s intended to recognize.  It’s more evidence of an overreaching bureaucracy.  

***

As you can see, each case has major policy implications, which signifies a transformation from how things are typically treated by the military services and Congress.  And the fact that each effort has been successful reinforces the need for even stronger oversight.  

So, as Congress continues its broader work—and look for me to be right in the center of those fights too—I’ll remain a fierce advocate for our military men and women, far beyond the routine work that is typical of Washington DC politics.  It’s a duty I take seriously and I am proud to stand up, even against the odds, for anyone ever willing to risk his or her life for us.  

Read More

Hunter: Integrating women into combat specialties is not a joke, it's serious

2016/05/11

There is nothing funny about combat.  Anyone who has ever been in the fight will tell you that war is not a joke or a subject for a punchline.

This was the case last week when the liberal media and several late night talk shows made light of an amendment I proposed to an annual defense bill to force a debate on the merits of integrating women in the infantry and special operations and therefore requiring they register for the draft.  It was branded as a “joke amendment,” by one late night show host.  Another called it a “sarcastic” exercise.

Clearly it struck a nerve.     

Good, I say.  It is about time that liberals take an interest in our military, even if for just a moment to defend the social experimentation that is being imposed on the services.  In doing so, however, they egregiously misrepresented the basic substance of the argument on whether women should or should not be required to submit for draft registration.

Women have long been exempt from the draft—and for right reason.  In 1981, a challenge to the exception was heard by the Supreme Court, which determined that the practice of registering men only for the draft was constitutional.  The rationale was that since women were excluded from ground combat, they should not have to register.  Congress agreed and subsequently reaffirmed the exception.       

More than 30 years later, the Obama administration turned things upside down when it demanded that women be integrated into all combat specialties, including infantry and special operations.  The Marine Corps resisted, arguing that all specialties can be opened with the exception of the infantry, which is assigned the duty of finding and killing the enemy, often through close-quarter combat.  The Marine Corps even produced an independent and peer-reviewed report to make their case.   The report was ignored.

Not long after, during a Senate hearing in February, both the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Army Chief of Staff endorsed the idea of women registering for the draft.  They conveyed a point similar to what the Supreme Court concluded decades earlier.  If women are in fact integrated in combat roles, then they should eligible for the draft.   The Secretaries of the Army and Navy said the issue should be discussed.

The time to have that discussion is now.

The services have already begun integration and it will take up to three years until it is final.  Before Congress decides whether to permit full integration to go forward in this time, it must also consider every issue—good or bad—that comes with the Obama Administration’s desire to fully integrate infantry units and special operations.

Having served in ground combat as a Marine Corps officer, including a tour in Fallujah, Iraq, I am more than willing to be the person to force the conversation, because if I do not, who will?  Will the late night talk shows do it?  Not a chance.  How about liberal talking heads in the media?  Keep dreaming.

When I proposed my amendment, I even did so with the intention of voting against it.  It passed by a vote of 32-30, with Democrats on the Armed Services Committee uniting in support.  They are now on the record as upholding draft registration for women—I am not, along with 29 others who voted no.

Let me be clear: I don’t support women in the infantry or special operations, nor do I support women registering for the draft.

One of my Democratic colleagues even referred to the amendment as a “gotcha” effort.  That was hardly the case.  The issue of integrating women in combat specialties is far too serious to ignore.  So are the consequences of opening these specialties and the draft is one of those consequences--like it or not.

Liberals have even suggested there was some grand strategy in order and the amendment backfired.  Not even close to true.  The strategy, if one existed, was to force members to go on the record and state a position, rather than hide.  In Congress, we are asked to make tough decisions all the time and we must embrace that responsibility.  Though it is far from certain what will happens to the provision.  In all likelihood, it will be removed from the bill through the floor process or during House-Senate negotiations.

Worth noting also, Representative Charlie Rangel once voted against legislation of his own that reinstated the draft during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  His legislation was strongly opposed in a floor vote.  To his credit, he succeeded in forcing a debate that was worth the time and attention of the American people.   

It is a fact that women have been placed in combat situations through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that is much different than serving in the infantry or with a special operations unit—especially in a conventional setting, which is unlike the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism missions of the last 15 years. Of course, there are surely some women that can meet or exceed the standards, though Congress will need to consider whether that should necessitate accommodating such a shift in military culture and mission effectiveness.

Something tells me that the late night hosts and liberal media pundits who have found humor in this issue have never served a day in their lives—or even given the idea thought.  The military is not for everyone.  But they do a great disservice to all of our military men and women by trying to ignore the effects of the Obama Administration’s decision making.

Count me as one Marine Corps veteran in Congress who won’t let that happen.

Read More

Hunter: Enforce immigration laws

2016/03/07

Border security and illegal immigration are a central theme of voter agitation on the side of Republicans and many independents, largely because leaders in government have been all talk and no action for too long.

Voters are now expressing their frustration on these and other issues, and it’s showcased in the form of the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.

There’s much appeal around rhetoric that promotes not just the enforcement of America’s borders, but also the enforcement of immigration laws. And while the idea of deporting 11 million people is not within the scope of possibility, it’s what such a pronouncement signals that’s the true magnet.

What voters have been desperate to hear and believe is a commitment from a national leading candidate that every effort will be made to enforce America’s immigration laws evenly and consistently. Further, a majority of Americans despise the idea that sanctuary cities exist, and states so openly defy and circumvent federal immigration laws, yet nothing has been done to stop them.

Voters are also aware that the most effective way to deal with the large population of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is through the jobs they seek. Enforce the law, deny the jobs enticement, and the number of illegal immigrants residing in the country will decline

The frustration also applies to what happens to violent criminal aliens. States and cities shouldn’t decide whether to report arrests or selectively determine which arrests warrant a phone call to the federal government. This played out last summer, when San Francisco released a violent criminal who killed a young woman with a bright future.

So when a candidate like Donald Trump raises the prospect of building a wall on the border, or deporting 11 million people, millions of Americans are not necessarily voting for those things specifically. Rather, they’re voting for a commitment to do what the past two administrations have failed to do. They’re voting for the idea that finally somebody is willing to enforce the law to the extent that the law requires.

That’s something Americans are right to demand.

Read More

Hunter: America needs to debate impact of drafting women into military

2016/02/09

Finally there is an issue on which hardline conservatives and coffeehouse liberals can agree. Neither group truly supports the idea of sending America’s daughters and sisters into direct ground combat, and neither adores the idea that women should be compelled to register for the draft.

The last time Americans experienced a military draft, whereby vacancies in the armed forces are involuntarily filled, was the early 1970s, when the Vietnam War was near its end.  A draft has not occurred since, and the U.S. military has remained an all-volunteer force, profiting on the patriotism and selflessness of young individuals inspired to serve.

At 18 years of age, young men are still required by law to register for the Selective Service, but in the age of the all-volunteer force there’s been no realistic potential for a draft.  This, however, does not negate the importance and necessity of registration. In the event large numbers of personnel are needed, and fast, a draft is the primary mechanism to build and strengthen the armed forces.

Until recently, as a result of the Obama administration's decision to open all combat specialties to women, it was considered settled that only men are eligible for the draft and therefore required to register. No longer. The question of exactly who should register for the draft has been turned on its head.

Should women be required to register for the draft now that they, too, can serve in the infantry and other combat specialties? When accounting for the administration’s push for fairness and equality in the area of combat arms, it makes sense, especially given that they have not had to before because these specialties were not integrated.

At least that is the message from the Army and Marine Corps’ top uniformed leaders, even as the rest of the administration — to include the president himself — has been mostly silent on the issue. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recently offered some perspective of his own, but his public statement stopped short on whether women should register for the draft.

For the Army and Marine Corps, a registration requirement for men and women is an appropriate next course of action in the march toward full integration. Not because it would suddenly give the services a deeper bench from which it could select talent, but rather it is consistent with the administration’s dictate to open all specialties without exception.

If only the administration’s loudest and most influential voices applied the same logic and common sense, even as consideration was given to opening specialties in the first place, but what else can be expected when judgments are based less on rationale and more on politics.  If the opposite were true, the secretary of the Navy would not have openly discredited the Marine Corps’ independent study and subsequent recommendations before a final decision was made.  The same goes for the special operations community, which returned its disapproval to integration through surveys and focus groups. Their input was evidently cast aside.

To modern generations, the prospect that Americans could be drafted to fight in wartime is a foreign concept, with unrealistic potential. Whether that day ever comes, the administration has stirred a new national debate, whether intended or not. My view is that the administration walked away from its obligation to make a proposal of its own, in the hope Congress would be too skittish to address the issue.

To begin this discussion and signal its significance, I introduced legislation, with the support of U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke, to require that women register for the draft.  The bill is titled The Draft America’s Daughters Act — a title intended to be provocative.  We have both served our nation — me as an artillery officer in the Marine Corps and Zinke as a Navy SEAL commander — and we are well-aware of what such a change could mean.

The idea that 18- to 20-year-old women could be drafted, filling positions tasked with finding and destroying the enemy, sometimes in quarters so close that fighting is reduced to the use of hands, knives and even helmets, is surely unsettling and should not be taken lightly. It is likely the administration either overlooked or ignored the issue in the politically ambitious move to open combat specialties, but now Congress has a responsibility to avoid committing the same error.

Truthfully, it is quite possible that I vote against my own legislation, as might others in Congress with military experience. At the same time, if the administration is refusing to take the advice and recommendations of the Marine Corps and special operations community into account, and pursue its plan to integrate all specialties without exception or care for impact, then it is possible that many votes — including my own — could change.

This is yet another dilemma created by the administration. In this case, it will have a direct impact on every American, not just those who serve. And it is absolutely necessary that the issue of Selective Service eligibility be exhaustively considered for the purpose of determining whether the American people truly want to send their daughters and sisters into harm’s way.

Read More

Reps. Hunter & Zinke introduce legislation requiring women to register for draft

2016/02/04

Washington, DC--Today, U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, introduced legislation to require that women register for the selective service.  The legislation, titled the Draft America’s Daughters Act, requires registration for women no later than 90 days after the enactment of the measure or 90 days after the Secretary of Defense opens all combat specialties.  Hunter is joined by U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke in introducing the bill, which comes on the heels of recent statements by the leaders of the Marine Corps and the Army that women should register for the draft.

“It’s wrong and irresponsible to make wholesale changes to the way America fights its wars without the American people having a say on whether their daughters and sisters will be on the front lines of combat,” said  Hunter.  “If this Administration wants to send 18-20 year old women into combat, to serve and fight on the front lines, then the American people deserve to have this discussion through their elected representatives.  The Administration made its decision to open all combat specialties without regard for the research and perspective of the Marine Corps and special operations community, or without consideration or care for whether the draft would have to be opened to both men and women.  This discussion should have occurred before decision making of any type, but the fact that it didn’t now compels Congress to take a honest and thorough look at the issue. 

“It’s unfortunate that a bill like this even needs to be introduced.  And it’s legislation that I might very well vote against should it be considered during the annual defense authorization process.”          

Read More

Hunter Statement on Djibouti pro-democracy meetings in Washington DC

2016/01/15

Washington, DC --  Today, Rep. Duncan Hunter made the following statement:

“Djibouti’s President Ismael Omar Guelleh leads a corrupt and repressive regime and his undemocratic actions, in addition to his cozy relationship with China, remain cause for deep concern.  President Guelleh’s recent announcement of his intention to seek an unprecedented fourth term followed by a violent crackdown on political opposition is just more evidence of his oppressive tactics that have continued for too long.  Also, China’s expanding military footprint in Djibouti will seriously affect our own counter-terrorism operations in and around the Horn of Africa—which is sure to remain an area of great strategic importance to the U.S. for well into the future.  The U.S. should demand that President Guelleh step down after his third term expires in 2016 and that he no longer obstruct Djibouti’s pro-democratic movement.”

Read More

Hunter: Why we must give careful consideration to a 'gender neutral' military

2016/01/08

For as long as Barack Obama has been president, the U.S. military has been a staging ground for social change. The incorporation of women in ground combat units, without much consideration or care for its impact, is just the latest example of an administration bent on using the military to advance its priorities regardless of consequences to mission readiness or combat effectiveness. 

The next step in this process requires that each of the services submit their plans to the Secretary of the Defense, which only the Army has done so far, at which point Congressional review is sure to intensify.  As it does, we must not write off the perspectives of seasoned military leaders and operators who might take issue with the integration plan, even though the White House, in its eagerness to implement its agenda, already has. 

First a little history: In 2010, as the Pentagon weighed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a survey was ordered to measure and signal support or even indifference to a change in policy. The survey results were predictable given the politics of the situation and the pressure from the top, and the survey was showcased as if full evidence that the military, despite various naysaying leadership factions, was eager for change.    

Now several years later, the military is confronted with the challenge of integrating women in combat specialties.  For infantry units and other roles that are primarily tasked with locating and destroying the enemy-- to include special operations-- opening these roles to women would signify not only a major cultural shift, but it could undercut the cohesion and operability of warfighters at the tip of the spear. 

The Marine Corps understood this. So they did the responsible thing and commissioned an independent, peer-reviewed study to determine impact at every level.  None of the other services followed their lead, which explains why the Army, the Navy and the Air Force were so quick to fold in the face of White House pressure.  When the Marines recommended keeping combat specialties closed to women, the findings of the report were immediately shot down as illegitimate. The Secretary of the Navy even went as far as to insult the men and women of the Marine Corps. 

Likewise, the U.S. special operations community issued a report of its own, which was derived from internal surveys and focus groups. The report stated that, “overall, 85 percent of survey participants opposed letting women into their specialty, and 71 percent opposed women in their unit.”

The concerns and data-driven analysis of the Marine Corps and the special operations community alone would typically be enough reason for pause and more thoughtful consideration.  But much different from “don’t ask, don’t tell,” these survey results and report findings were either swept aside or discredited because they contradicted the White House’s political agenda.

Evidently, to the White House, the findings within reports and surveys are subjects of convenience. They only matter when they conform to the broader agenda, otherwise they’re meaningless. The dismissal of the Marine Corps and special operations community in the gender integration process is proof of this fact. 

It’s no wonder why the military views the president and his leadership team as so out of touch with their priorities.  Of course, there’s no disputing the fact that women have served honorably, and many have experienced combat situations over the course of campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, but opening infantry units and combat specialties presents a much different challenge.  It’s not that doing so is impossible, but if it’s going to happen, it needs to be done right.

As a Marine Corps officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq,  including in Fallujah, I have a deep sense of respect and appreciation for anyone who is willing to step forward and wear a military uniform—man or woman.  In fact, roadside bombs have no gender preference, neither do bullets.  So all military personnel must be adequately trained for their mission and be prepared to fight back, always.  But in the infantry and other specialties, this is different than training to fight on foot as part of small cohesive units that experience combat with knives and bayonets, or bare hands.       

While the Army saw the first two females graduate from its Ranger school, the Marine Corps has yet to graduate a single female from its officer infantry school, even though there have been many attempts. 

What cannot happen — as many are rightly concerned will — is that the services will be forced to lower various specialty standards, in order to remain “gender neutral.” That is something the services must resist at all cost—as Congress should too. 

It’s imperative that each job maintains the highest standards and continue developing the highest quality personnel, regardless of gender, quotas or any other benchmark.

The significance of this process requires more thoroughness and evaluation than what’s been given so far, including whether women will now be eligible for the selective service. That alone is sure to be an issue of contention.  It’s also an issue the White House didn’t care to weigh. 

The White House evidently picks and chooses who it listens to when it comes it comes to the military.  But if survey results and data mattered in the effort to reverse “don’t ask, don’t tell,” then why is the same attention and respect not given to the concerns put forward by the Marine Corps and the special operations community when it comes to opening combat specialties?

They are among our fiercest fighters and it’s foolish not to take their concerns seriously.

Read More

Reps. Hunter & Kinzinger commend Air Force decision in Miley-Gate controversy

2015/12/23

Washington, DC--The Air Force today informed several of its instructor pilots involved in the Laughlin texting controversy—referred to as Miley-Gate—that their aeronautical orders will be immediately reinstated.  U.S. Representatives Duncan Hunter (CA-50) and Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) intervened in the case, after learning that several instructor pilots were wrongfully accused and punished for illegal drug use due to suggestive personal text messages that were recovered during an unrelated investigation.  It was determined, through a review process ordered by the Air Force Chief of Staff, that allegations of drug use are unsubstantiated. 

Representatives Hunter and Kinzinger made the following statement after their respective conversations with the Air Force Chief of Staff this morning:

“While it’s our belief that the initial action taken against the pilots by the Air Force was unjust, we have been impressed with the seriousness and speed by which these cases have been corrected.  Overall, we are content with the outcome and commend the Air Force for doing the right thing.  General Welsh demonstrated quality leadership and sound judgment throughout this process—and we are grateful for his personal attention to these cases.    

“We do remain concerned, however, with the parts of the military justice system that seem to permit the unjustified seizure and misrepresentation of personal text messages—and we intend to address this issue.  It’s important that this doesn’t happen again.

“We wish the pilots all the best in their flying careers and thank them for their service.”    

Read More

Hunter: Make no mistake - the FBI and Army retaliated against a hero

2015/12/17

When I first met Jason Amerine, it was hard not to be impressed.  He’s got the right stuff.  His resume — flush with the type of things that would make a Hollywood movie producer drool — isn’t too bad either.

In politics, trust is important and often what a person has done says a lot about who they truly are.  In this case, Amerine is a war hero.  It’s a characterization he loathes and will never attribute to himself, but I will.

So of course I was on board to help save American lives when he came to me to talk about the problems with our country’s policy on hostages.  I committed to giving my best effort to change the U.S. government’s approach to recovering Americans — civilian and military — held captive in warzones.

Amerine was first tasked by Gen. John Campbell — who is now leading the ground war in Afghanistan — to develop plans to recover Bowe Bergdahl.  Nobody in their right mind thought the State Department-induced and -led five-for-one prisoner exchange was a good idea.

Amerine quickly determined that not only could he recover Bergdahl, but he could also secure the release of other American captives without firing a shot.  He also spotted inherent dysfunction and conflict within government.  Our response was quick.  I wrote to former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel twice.  He called me to say he agreed that these problems needed to be solved.  He told me what he planned to do and who he would task to do it.

In that same span of time, Jason was getting close to making something happen, but it was the Federal Bureau of Investigation that first took offense to his efforts.  Not the Army.  The FBI argued that hostage recovery — in a warzone or not — was entirely under their purview even if the agents in charge of certain cases never stepped foot in Afghanistan.  And forget that Jason had personal relationships at the highest levels of the Afghan government as well as other close and well-placed friends in the region.  None of it mattered to the FBI.

So what did the FBI do?  They “informally” suggested to the Army that it look at Amerine for sharing classified information.  They needed Amerine back in his lane, and the quickest and easiest way to do that was to sideline him through an investigation.  I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, honestly, because this type of stuff happens every day in government.  People are always trying to protect their turf at the expense of others.

What I had a problem with is what the Army chose to do once a complaint of sorts was made.  They could have talked to Amerine, who had the full support of his immediate leadership, which in turn had full visibility into what he was doing.  Internally, there was a disagreement on whether to investigate Amerine, but one Army general who has a personal beef with me couldn’t let it go and insisted that an investigation was warranted.  So Army leaders folded.  An investigation started.

I appealed to everyone in the Army that I could and so did other members of Congress.  Former Army Secretary John McHugh wouldn’t even return a phone call.  Soon after, Jason filed a complaint with the Inspector General.  In his complaint, he laid out the entire situation, from our work together, to his work behind the scenes.  The Inspector General’s office, doing as they should, relayed the document for a determination on the classification of its contents.  The Joint Staff determined that nothing in the document was classified.

Even with that determination in hand, the Army refused to budge.  So they began looking anywhere else they could. Soon, investigators were several steps removed from the original allegation.  They wanted to find something.  They had to find something.

Meanwhile, the White House was motivated by the facts to change hostage policy.  And during that time, I successfully led an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, now law, which requires the creation of an interagency hostage coordinator.  This is thanks to Jason Amerine.

The Army didn’t care.  There was also a certain level of gamesmanship that began.  One of Amerine’s lawyers was left in the dark for far too long.  Amerine’s pay was halted.  He was called in for fingerprinting and criminal processing.  Should we pretend the halted payment was a clerical error?  And should we pretend the fingerprinting was necessary?  No way.

Through it all, Amerine came out the way he went in, with his honor and reputation intact.  And a recent report from the House Armed Services Committee provides even more validation of all of Jason’s great work.  With one foot out the door, Jason was even awarded the Legion of Merit, a fitting capstone to a long and distinguished career.

Recently, I read an article on War on the Rocks by a former Army lawyer who tried to tamp down any criticism of the way the Army handled things.  He argued that certain Army leaders are being unfairly demonized.  This left me unswayed. If you want to play politics where politics shouldn’t be played, you’re going to need a thicker skin.  Stand by your judgment to investigate, that’s fine, but don’t try to convince me or the rest of the audience that the investigation into Amerine warranted a year of the Army’s time, attention, and resources — or that the investigation was warranted in the first place. The Army needs to be smarter about investigating the complaints it receives. After digging into this, I can assure you that they should have known from the start that what the FBI sent them about Amerine did not pass the smell test.

There was also intervention by POGO and Senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley.  Thank goodness for their collective efforts.  They too saw exactly what I did — a system that was leveraged by an outside force to retaliate against an honorable soldier and war hero.   That same system, instead of protecting Jason, was then mishandled from within.  Whether it was all due to a problem with me or with Amerine, that’s now irrelevant.  This could have been settled with a simple conversation.

Isn’t that what someone like Jason Amerine deserves?  For all his service, for all his sacrifice, an investigation that lasted almost a year was viewed as suitable treatment for someone who did the right thing every step of the way.  So while some officials are worrying about demonizing certain Army leaders, what they should really start thinking about is how not to demonize brave soldiers who are the backbone of our military.

Read More

Hunter: Don’t stifle vaping

2015/12/09

Yes, I vape.  On occasion, I might even smoke a real cigarette.

Through my military career, including three combat tours, I even experienced chewing tobacco.  

Now that I vape, does it mean I am one step closer to dying than say, someone who might drink too much, eat too much red meat or live an all-around unhealthy lifestyle?

No way. 

To vape is to smoke an electronic cigarette, for those who don’t know.  An e-cigarette is different from a regular cigarette, mainly because it does not contain tobacco.  E-cigarettes contain a liquid that is vaporized—hence, the word vape—and inhaled.  It might taste and smell like tobacco, but it’s not.    

It’s true that vaping isn’t as sexy as smoking old-fashioned cigarettes.  Generations of Americans were brought up smoking traditional tobacco products and to them, vaping may appear to be nothing more than a fad, set to eventually burn out.  They’re wrong. 

The reason I vape is simple: It’s so I don’t smoke cigarettes.  I vape knowing that I’m not inhaling tobacco.  Most importantly, I vape because I believe it could save my life.     

There are millions of Americans like me, who are choosing e-cigarettes over their traditional counterpart.  Now the Food and Drug Administration wants to force me and millions of others to revert to cigarettes through the issuance of new regulations.  What the FDA is proposing is a date of February 15, 2007, to require approval for e-cigarettes, even if they are already being sold. 

Not so bad, right?  Wrong.

To comply, any company that manufactures e-cigarettes must submit an application, to include test results on health risks. 

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Wrong again.

The problem is that most e-cigarettes didn’t exist before February 15, 2007.  So if the FDA gets its way, not only will modern day e-cigarettes, with all their advancements and improvements, no longer be available for purchase, but thousands of small businesses specializing in the sale of vaping pens and accessories will be forced to close their doors. 

Also, whatever products did exist before 2007—which people are sure to continue buying—will lack all the improvements that have transformed e-cigarettes into a more acceptable alternative.  Other consumers may choose to go back to real thing.        

There’s no science behind the FDA’s proposed date.  It’s completely arbitrary.  This is not to say that a grandfather date shouldn’t exist, maybe one should, but there’s no other motive behind the FDA’s date than to deny Americans a product that is becoming a suitable replacement to cigarettes. 

If the FDA won’t change the proposed grandfather date then Congress must—at least to the date a regulation is issued.  Pertinent legislation has already been introduced in the House and discussions are underway to possibly include a date change in forthcoming omnibus legislation. 

It’s hard to imagine images from past, of soldiers storming beachheads with vaping pens in their mouths, men in workshops and factories billowing clouds of vaporized smoke, or men and women in bars and social gatherings talking to each other as they vape.  But this is 2015—and surely, had the technology been around then, we’re sure to see much of what we see today: Americans turning to a product that reduces their urge to put a cigarette to their lips and keeps tobacco out of their mouths and lungs. 

The FDA should wise up.  And if their true goal is to reduce cigarette use, then imposing a prohibition of sorts on e-cigarettes is senseless.  Then again, maybe the FDA is counting on a surge in lighter sales to account for the cost—personal and financial—of their ill-conceived regulation.   

Read More

Loading legislation ... one moment please
Loading votes ... one moment please

HASC hearing

2013-05-01 20:36:39


Hunter Praises Marine General James Mattis

2013-04-11 17:04:08


Congressman Duncan Hunter Discusses the Denial of the Medal of Honor for Sgt. Rafael Peralta

2012-12-14 16:56:39


CNN Newsroom Segment on DoD Denial of Medal of Honor for Sgt. Peralta

2012-12-13 16:43:12


Rep. Duncan Hunter Talks on KUSI about the Administration's Handling of Libya

2012-11-02 14:07:44


Fox News Special Report feat. Rep. Hunter Discussing the Army's Use of Palantir

2012-07-31 14:14:18


Congressman Hunter on Fox News Discussing the Army's Use of Palantir to Detect IEDs

2012-07-26 20:00:11


Congressman Duncan Hunter Speaks on Treatment of KIA Servicemembers' Remains

2012-07-19 18:33:04


Rep. Duncan Hunter on Fox Business Discussing CA Bankruptcies

2012-07-12 15:36:19


Congressman Duncan Hunter Discusses True Unemployment on Fox Business

2012-04-26 15:26:24


Congressman Duncan Hunter Discusses the Unemployment Situation

2012-03-08 16:15:49


Floor Statement on H.R. 290, the War Memorial Protection Act

2012-01-24 20:23:19


11/2/11 Congressman Duncan Hunter on Agent Diaz Case

2011-11-02 15:32:44


10/30/2011 Fox News Segment (II) on Agent Diaz

2011-11-01 21:22:37


10/29/2011 Fox News Segment on Agent Diaz

2011-11-01 21:18:57


10/26/2011 Fox News Interview on Mexican ID Cards

2011-11-01 21:14:28


10/25/2011 Fox News on Mexican Cross-Border Trucking

2011-11-01 21:02:40


10/14/2011 CNN interview on MoH

2011-10-14 15:20:20


10/13/2011 HASC Press Conference on Defense Cuts

2011-10-13 21:42:42


7/31/11 FOX News Interview on Debt Limit

2011-08-02 16:37:07


Contact Information

223 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-5672
Fax 202-225-0235
hunter.house.gov

Congressman Duncan D. Hunter represents California’s 50th Congressional District consisting of East and Northern County San Diego. In 2008, Hunter was elected to his first term in the House of Representatives, succeeding his father, Duncan L. Hunter, who retired after serving 14 consecutive terms in Congress.

Hunter is a native of San Diego. He graduated from Granite Hills High School in El Cajon and earned a degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University. Hunter worked to pay for his education by creating websites and programming databases and ecommerce systems for high-tech companies. Immediately after graduation, he went to work full time in San Diego as a Business Analyst.

Soon after our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001, Hunter quit his job and joined the United States Marine Corps. Hunter entered active service as a Lieutenant in 2002 and excelled in the area of field artillery, much like his grandfather, Robert O. Hunter, who was a Marine Corps artillery officer in World War II.

Over the course of his service career, Hunter served three combat tours overseas: two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. In 2003, Hunter deployed to Iraq with the 1st Marine Division. Hunter completed his second tour in 2004, where he and his fellow Marines were at the center of combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq.

In September 2005, four years after he quit his job and joined the Marine Corps, Hunter was honorably discharged from active military service and started a successful residential development company. Still a Marine Reservist, he was promoted to the rank of Captain in 2006, and to the rank of Major in 2012.

Less than two years before Hunter was elected, he was recalled to active duty and deployed to Afghanistan. Hunter returned home after more than six months on the front lines and, with the support of the San Diego community, became the first Marine combat veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan elected to Congress.

Hunter is a strong conservative who is committed to strengthening national security, enforcing our borders, creating opportunities for American workers and protecting the interests of taxpayers. He is also a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, protecting traditional marriage and the rights of the unborn.

Congressman Hunter and his wife live in Alpine, California. They are the proud parents of three children: Duncan, Elizabeth and Sarah.


Serving With

Doug LaMalfa

CALIFORNIA's 1st DISTRICT

Tom McClintock

CALIFORNIA's 4th DISTRICT

Paul Cook

CALIFORNIA's 8th DISTRICT

Jeff Denham

CALIFORNIA's 10th DISTRICT

David Valadao

CALIFORNIA's 21st DISTRICT

Devin Nunes

CALIFORNIA's 22nd DISTRICT

Kevin McCarthy

CALIFORNIA's 23rd DISTRICT

Steve Knight

CALIFORNIA's 25th DISTRICT

Ed Royce

CALIFORNIA's 39th DISTRICT

Ken Calvert

CALIFORNIA's 42nd DISTRICT

Mimi Walters

CALIFORNIA's 45th DISTRICT

Dana Rohrabacher

CALIFORNIA's 48th DISTRICT

Darrell Issa

CALIFORNIA's 49th DISTRICT

Recent Videos