A panel of three Marine colonels have determined that a Marine reserve major who sent classified information using his personal email account to warn fellow Marines of a potential insider attack should be retained.
It’s the second board of inquiry for reserve Maj. Jason Brezler, who in July 2012 sent a classified warning through his personal email account to Marine colleagues in Afghanistan about a corrupt police chief.
That warning arrived two weeks ahead of an attack on Aug. 10, 2012, which was carried out by a boy connected to the police chief. That attack killed three Marines: Staff Sgt. Scott Dickinson, Cpl. Richard Rivera and Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley.
After Brezler told his command he sent the email, he was relieved of command, received an adverse fitness report and was recommended for discharge from a December 2013 board of inquiry.
Brezler sued the Corps alleging its actions were retaliatory.
In December 2016, U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco in New York, overturned the Corps’ decision to discharge Brezler.
The federal judge ruled that the Corps had not provided Brezler full access to records related to his claim that the Corps’ decision was in retaliation for him contacting Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., for help related to the incident.
“For example, if communications prior to the Marine Corps Times article indicate that the Navy did not contemplate a BOI [board of inquiry], or indicate an affirmative decision not to initiate a BOI, such communications would be highly relevant to Major Brezler’s claim that the BOI was retaliatory,” Bianco wrote in the decision, previously reported by Marine Corps Times.
The judge also ordered the Navy to hold a new board of inquiry.
The findings and recommendations of that board, held in early August, were obtained by Marine Corps Times.
The board found that Brezler failed to “properly discharge the duties expected of an officer of his grade and experience,” according to the board’s findings.
The panel also substantiated an allegation that between Dec. 29, 2009 and July 31, 2012, Brezler violated a lawful regulation by “wrongfully removing from official premises electronic documents and files classified as “Secret” without proper authorization, according to a sheet detailing the board’s findings.
But the board did not substantiate other allegations to include that Brezler was “derelict” in his duties to properly safeguard classified materials.
The board ultimately recommended Brezler be retained.
“The Board finds that none of the reasons listed above warrant Major Brezler’s separation from the naval service and recommends closing the case,” the board’s findings stated.
“For seven years, Jason has fought for one reason: He loves the Marine Corps and wants to continue to contribute," Michael Bowe, Brezler’s lawyer, told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.
"This was the right result from a panel of senior Marines Corps officers, all of whom came up to him after and expressed their support,” Bowe said.
Brezler used his personal email in July 2012, to warn about corrupt Afghan police chief Sarwar Jan, who Brezler had kicked off an outpost in Afghanistan two years ago for alleged corruption, ties to the Taliban and allegations he trafficked boys.
Around the time Brezler sent the email, Sarwar had arrived at a small outpost named Delhi in Afghanistan.
A couple weeks later in August 2012, a boy connected to Sarwar carried out an attack that killed three Marines on Delhi.
The Navy could reject the board’s findings. Maj. Roger Hollenbeck, a spokesman for Marine Forces Reserve, said the recommendation from the board of inquiry has been forwarded to Office of the Secretary of the Navy for consideration.
The Washington Post first reported the results of the recent board of inquiry for Brezler.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.