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Military tribunal: Don't dismiss Garden City reservist

Maj. Jason Brezler in front of federal court

Maj. Jason Brezler in front of federal court in Central Islip on Oct. 14, 2016. Credit: James Carbone

A military tribunal has ruled that a major in the U.S. Marine Corps who had been attached to a Garden City reserve unit should not be kicked out of the naval service despite using his personal email to send classified information to his unit in Afghanistan years ago.

A three-judge panel found in July that Jason Brezler’s actions did not “warrant Major Brezler’s separation from the naval service…and recommends closing the case,” according to a written decision.

Brezler, who is 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.

The classified email Brezler sent from Oklahoma — after coming back to the United States — to his former base in Afghanistan involved what he said was the sordid history of an Afghan official, court papers show.  A teenage boy with the official eventually shot and killed three Marines on the base, including Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. of Oceanside.

The panel did find that Brezler’s actions did not “properly discharge the duties expected of an officer of his grade and experience,” and that he “wrongfully” removed “electronic documents and files classified as ‘Secret’ from official premises.”

Corps spokesman Maj. Roger Hollenbeck said the tribunal’s recommendation is being passed on to the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, who will make the final determination on his status.

Hollenbeck said Brezler is now in the Individual Ready Reserve, meaning he is on standby status and not attached to any unit until the outcome of the case.

Brezler, who lives in Brooklyn and is in his 40s,  said he loves the corps. “I am grateful beyond words for the opportunity to once again serve as a United State Marine,” Brezler said in a statement. “I can’t wait to contribute again.”

Michael Bowe, an attorney representing Brezler, said his client has fought for seven years to get back to the reserves.

“This was the right result from a panel of senior Marine Corps officers, all of whom came up to him after and expressed their support,” Bowe said.

King hailed the panel’s decision and recommendation. “It was a terrible injustice, and finally justice is being done,” King said.

It is not clear when the secretary of the Navy will make a decision on the panel's recommendation.

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