A federal judge in Central Islip Tuesday barred the Marine Corps from dismissing a major who emailed a classified document over an unsecured line but claimed he did it to potentially save the lives of fellow Marines in Afghanistan.
Major Jason Brezler, a reservist and also a member of the FDNY, had argued that when the Marine Board of Inquiry recommended his dismissal in 2013, it did so in retaliation after Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) inquired into the U.S. Naval Academy graduate’s treatment, which also had become the subject of media attention. Brezler also said the board did not give him an adequate chance to defend himself.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco ruled that the Marine board, in violation of military procedures, denied Brezler a number of internal documents he might have used in his defense. Among them were materials that could have shown the board was apparently convened only after an article on Brezler’s situation appeared in the Marine Corps Times and King had made his inquiries.
Tuesday night, King said Bianco’s decision represented “a great day for Jason Brezler and a great day for justice. Major Brezler is a true American hero.”
The classified email Brezler sent from Oklahoma back to his former base in Afghanistan involved what he said was the sordid history of an Afghani official. A teenage boy with the official eventually shot and killed three Marines on the base, including Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. of Oceanside.
Bianco said there would have to be a fair hearing if the Marine Corps wished to kick Brezler out.
“The Court emphasizes that . . . it has not concluded that the BOI [Board of Inquiry] was in fact retaliatory, or that the final agency action in separating the plaintiff from the Marine Corps was arbitrary and capricious,” Bianco said. “[Rather it] clearly prevented Major Brezler from fully and fairly litigating his retaliation claims.”
Brezler’s attorney, Michael Bowe, said: “This is a stunning rebuke of the fundamentally unjust proceedings to which this decorated Marine was subjected for three years.”
James Margolin, a spokesman for the Southern District U.S. Attorney’ office, which represented the Marines and the Navy in the case, declined to comment.