CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) – The Marine Corps targeted a whistle-blowing reservist who emailed a warning to his higher-ups about threats posed by a corrupt Taliban-sponsored police chief in Afghanistan just weeks before one the chief’s teenaged sex slaves infiltrated a gym on a base and opened fire, killing three Marines.
Jason Brezler, a fire fighter with the New York City Fire Department based in Brooklyn – and a major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve since 2010 – filed his 15-page lawsuit against Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, commander of the Marine Corps Reserve, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Department of the Navy in Eastern District New York.
Brezler says that while working out in a gym at the Forward Operating Base in Delhi, Afghanistan in August 2010, three of his colleagues were murdered by an Afghan boy who was part of the “unofficial entourage” of “corrupt” Afghan police chief Sarwar Jan, “who was a notorious drug dealer, child rapist and Taliban collaborator.”
The teen had arrived at the base weeks earlier with Jan and his entourage, Brezler says.
The Marine Corps command responsible for FOB Delhi – and the safety of the Marines stationed there – should never have allowed Jan or the murderer to enter, let alone operate out of, FOB Delhi, the lawsuit states.
Killed in the attack were Marine Lance Corporal Gregory Buckley, Corporal Richard A. Rivera, and Staff Sgt. Scott E. Dickenson.
Two years earlier, U.S. Marine Cpt. Andrew Terrell and Brezler had expelled Sarwar Jan as the police chief of the Afghan village of Now Zad because they were kidnapping and keeping boys as sex slaves, trafficking drugs and providing weapons and Afghan police uniforms to the Taliban to carry out insider attacks, according to the complaint.
The two men then created a dossier on Jan and sent it up the chain of command.
But in July 2012, Jan reemerged as the new chief of the Afghan police unit stationed at the base and worked with a Marine Corps advisor team – the three men who were gunned down.
“The arrival of this known Taliban collaborator Jan and his entourage of unknown boys and young men presented a particularly acute threat to FOB Delhi because it coincided with the Taliban’s publicly proclaimed intent to infiltrate coalition bases and execute insider attacks,” according to the lawsuit.
Jan’s arrival “generated fears among certain American and British personnel and caused the Marine commanders with responsibility for the FOB Delhi to send an urgent request for information about Jan to Captain Terrel.”
Terrell then asked Brezler, who was at the time back in a classroom in Oklahoma working towards a master’s degree, to “immediately forward” the dossier he created on Jan. Brezler says he did so.
But, he adds, commanders not only let Jan return to the base but “inexplicably took no steps” in response to his warnings.
“There was no investigation or scrutiny into, or monitoring of, Jan and the unknown boys and young men” he brought with him to the base, he claims.
“Nothing was done to mitigate the heightened risk of insider attacks posed by Jan’s presence during what should have otherwise already been a period of heightened vigilance anyway,” Brezler says.
Two weeks after the warning, one of the young men in Jan’s entourage took an unsecured Afghan rifle, entered the unprotected gym on the base and opened fire, killing three Marines and injuring a fourth.
“When he ran out of rounds, the murderer announced ‘I just did Jihad’ and encouraged other Afghans on [the base] to do the same,” the lawsuit states.
Less than a day later, another insider attack in the region claimed the lives of several special force Marines who were killed after dining with their assailants.
The attacks continued. A month later, the Taliban – wearing coalition uniforms – attacked Marine Base Camp Bastion, killing two Marines and destroying eight aircraft worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the complaint.
In each case, “the Marine Corps initially refused to conduct any investigation into this debacle,” Brezler says. Families of victims at Camp Bastion, Congress and the media pressed for information for over a year, and eventually an investigation began.
The findings “revealed what the Marine Corps wanted so badly to cover up: an abject failure on the part of senior Marine commanders to address known threats and implement adequate protection of Marines endangered by those threats,” the lawsuit states.
And still, Brezler says, the Marine Corps has “inexplicably refused” to investigate the New Delhi shooting because “any investigation will reveal incompetent, unacceptable and, in the case of FOB Delhi, reprehensible conduct on the part of senior Marine commanders.”
Transparency would also force the Marines to address its association and work with the corrupt forces that it knew were involved in the kidnapping of young boys as sex slaves, drug trafficking, extortion, corruption and Taliban collaboration, according to the complaint.
Families of victims at Camp Bastion have fought for over two years to get information, but Brezler says the Marine Corps has refused to comply.
“Indeed, the complete information lockdown the Marine Corps imposed after these murders is shocking,” Brezler says.
The family of one of the victims, Lance Corporal Gregory Buckley, first pressed for prosecution of their son’s killer in Brooklyn Federal Court. But the Marines convinced them that an Afghan trial would be better, according to the complaint.
The family agreed, believing that doing so would “ensure the voice of these dead Marines and their families would be heard, provide the Buckley family with timely and accurate updates and assist Greg Buckley Sr. in attending the trial.”
But none of that happened, Brezler says.
The Buckley family sued again in Brooklyn Federal Court this past October.
Afghan officials indicted the killer as a juvenile in May and June of this year, but never kept the Buckleys apprised of the case, Brezler says. After a three-day trial, the gunman got a 7-year sentence.
“Indeed, despite their lip service about ‘sacred and eternal trust,’ no one at the Marine Corps took any steps to ensure that the murderer of these three Marines was properly prosecuted, or to stand witness to that prosecution on behalf of those dead Marines and their families. They were simply abandoned. The Marine Corps obviously preferred to simply move on,” according to the complaint.
It wasn’t until the eve of the trial that the Buckley family first learned that the gunman would be tried as a juvenile. They say the Corps lied to them and said no trial date had been set, according to Brezler.
Marines then told Buckley’s father that if he wanted to attend the trial he would “need to make his own way” without the Marines’ help. But Buckley’s father didn’t know the trial would begin the next day – or that it would only last three days – so he never made it, Brezler said.
Marines then waited another three days after the trial to tell the family of the “devastating development,” through a press statement late on a Friday afternoon, “in a classic public relations ploy designed to minimize media coverage,” Brezler says.
A spokesman for the Marine Corps said it was against policy to comment on pending litigation.
The Buckleys “felt completely betrayed, with Greg Buckley Sr. lying in his son’s bed, holding his picture weeping as he apologized and asked for his son’s forgiveness for not ensuring that his murderer was properly punished,” Brezler’s lawsuit states.
In contrast, over the last two years the Marine Corps has devoted “enormous time, resources and attention to investigating and prosecuting” Brezler for sending out the warning about Jan in an attempt to “silence and discredit” him, and to stop him from reaching out to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Peter King, both of New York.
Brezler was the focus of an NCIS investigation into the transmission of that information over his personal email account from the United States.
He says his home was searched, “which was patently excessive for the single transmission of a questionably classified document to warn Marines of imminent threat.”
“Indeed, there are no examples of any similarly aggressive investigation after having been launched for any remotely analogous conduct in recent history,” Brezler says.
The NCIS concluded that no action against Brezler was warranted, he adds.
Brezler says the Corps tried to “negatively manipulate” Brezler’s record after King began to inquire about the shootings, and that such scrutiny “accelerated dramatically” as the press honed in on the story.
The Corps then assembled a board of inquiry into whether Brezler should be kept as a Marine. Brezler says he was not allowed to call or offer testimony from highly material witnesses during the hearing, was denied documents and was the victim of witness tampering.
He says the transcript provided to him of the three-day proceeding contained 1,548 missing portions dubbed as “inaudible,” and “innumerable substantive misstatements and undesignated or explained omissions” were included.
Brezler says he complained, but was ignored. He says his career and reputation hang in the balance.
“Although the Marine Corps appears not to think so, there are certain constitutional principles and federal statutes that even it must follow,” said Michael Bowe, Brezler’s attorney from the firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP. “Omitting or altering critical testimony and argument from a proceeding’s written record before submitting it for review and approval is something that should never happen in this country and which I have never seen before in a quarter-century as a lawyer.”
A representative for the Marines’ board of inquiry referred the matter to the handling agency. The Marine Corps declined to comment.
Brezler wants a Brooklyn federal judge to declare the board’s actions void and unenforceable, and in a separate document asked the court to bar the board from taking further action and to release a complete transcript of its proceedings within 30 days.
Bowe also asked U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco to set oral arguments for Jan. 23 in Central Islip, N.Y.
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