On June 18, 2010, FDNY Firefighter Jason Brezler was promoted to Major in the Marine Corps Reserves in a ceremony officiated by fellow Firefighter Walter Powers, a Lieutenant Colonel in the U. S. Marine Corp. The location of the ceremony was chosen by Jason himself….his firehouse, Engine 45 and Ladder 58 in the Bronx.
“Following the ceremony, Brezler explained his reasons for choosing his firehouse for the ceremony. “Why do this [ceremony] in a garage in the Bronx? I'm proud to be part of two of the greatest organizations in this country – the FDNY and the USMC. Some of my best friends are here. For me, it made perfect sense.”
“Now, Reserve Major Jason Brezler, who has served four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is facing expulsion from one of those great organizations for sending classified information from an unsecure email account. It started last summer when Brezler received an urgent phone call from Marines serving in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province asking for information regarding a police official, Sarwar Jan, whom the Marines suspected of molesting local minors and who had access to their post.
“Brezler, a mobilized reserve Marine at that time, immediately responded to the email and warned the Marines of Jan’s history of abuse and his suspected ties to insurgents. Immediately upon warning his fellow Marines, he realized that he had passed “imminent threat” information classified as “NATO Secret” over an unclassified computer network, Brezler reported his mistake to his Marine Corp chain of command.
“Following the emails, no action appeared to have been taken and several days later on August 10, 2012, it is alleged that Jan’s 15 year old “assistant” armed with an assault rifle allegedly belonging to Jan, opened fire in the gym at Forward Operating Base Delhi in Afghanistan killing Staff Sgt. Scott Dickinson, 29, Cpl. Richard Rivera, 20, and Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley 21. A fourth Marine, Staff Sgt. Cody Rhode, sustained five gunshot wounds, including one that shattered his elbow, according to a Marine Corps news release. They were all members of a police advisory team attached to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“On March 4, 2013, Brezler received an adverse FITREP from Col. Michael Lesavage, the former commanding officer of the 25 Marine Regiment. The FITREP report states that Brezler was removed as Commander of Headquarters and Service Company, 2 Battalion, 25 Marines, on Oct. 10, 2012 and that his security clearance was suspended for the “reportable incident,” and the report adds that the security clearance eventually expired.
““This officer’s overall judgment and attention to duty, recently brought to light in conjunction with the loss of his clearance, have caused me to lose trust and confidence in his abilities,” Lesavage writes in the report.
“Brezler has disputed some of the points that were brought out in his FITREP and has said that he never spoke to Lesavage until December 21, 2012 when Lesavage told him over the phone that while he had “done some good things for the Corps,” his career was “done”. In his rebuttal to his FITREP, Brezler states “I was asked to provide information and the immediacy and exigency of the situation dictated this course.”
“Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) who represents the district where one of the Marines killed in the attack, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley, lived, got involved and wrote a letter asking for an explanation for the adverse FITREP. In response to his letter, Rep. King received the following: “The circumstances surrounding Major Brezler’s adverse FITREP are unfortunate; however, the issue was handled impartially and according to the orders and regulations that govern the Department of Defense and the Armed Forces of the United States.”
Rep. King issued the following statement to the Marine Corps Times following the letter:
““Jason Brezler chose the harder right over the easier wrong when he responded honestly to fellow Marines’ concerns about Sarwar Jan,” King said. “Why punish him for having the integrity and moral courage to warn about an imminent force protection threat? I hope he is not being retaliated against for blowing the whistle on Sarwar Jan’s criminal activities, which posed an insider threat that killed three Marines.”
“Col. Francis Piccoli, a spokesman at Marine Corps Forces Reserve headquarters in New Orleans, declined to comment on Brezler’s FITREP or the investigation into him passing classified information citing the Navy Department policy on a subject’s right to privacy. ''
Firefighter Brezler has also declined comment.