A Marine Corps officer who has been locked in a legal battle with his service after self-reporting that he improperly disseminated classified information will use Hillary Clinton’s email case to fight his involuntary separation from the service, his lawyer said.
Maj. Jason Brezler’s case has been tied up in federal court since he sued the service in December 2014. He became a cause celebre among some members of Congress, Marine generals and military veterans after he sent a classified message using an unclassified Yahoo email account to warn fellow Marines in southern Afghanistan about a potentially corrupt Afghan police chief. A servant of that police official killed three Marines and severely wounded a fourth 17 days later, on Aug. 10, 2012, opening fire with a Kalashnikov rifle in an insider attack.
An attorney for Brezler, Michael J. Bowe, said that he intends to cite the treatment of Clinton “as one of the many, and most egregious examples” of how severely Brezler was punished. FBI Director James B. Comey announced Tuesday that he would not recommend the U.S. government pursue federal charges against Clinton, but he rebuked her “extremely careless” use of a private, unclassified email server while serving as secretary of state. The FBI found that 110 of her emails contained classified information.
Bowe said it is impossible to reconcile President Obama’s statement that Clinton’s intentional act of setting up a secret, unsecured email server did not detract “from her excellent ability to carry out her duties” while Brezler received a “completely opposite finding… involving infinitely less sensitive and limited information.”
Brezler, a reservist who works full time for the New York City Fire Department, was not charged criminally in his case. But he was issued a potentially career-ending fitness report after self-reporting that he sent the classified email to Afghanistan. That prompted concern from Rep. Peter T. King (R.-N.Y.), who wrote then-Commandant Gen. James F. Amos about the case in August 2013 and asked whether it was necessary to be so harsh on someone who had warned fellow Marines of a potential threat in combat.
News of the case was first reported by the independent Marine Corps Times in October 2013. Within days, the Marine Corps moved to send Brezler to a panel known as a board of inquiry to decide whether he was fit to continue serving.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service reviewed electronics voluntarily turned over by Brezler and determined that he had more than 100 classified documents on his personal, unclassified hard drive and thumb drive.
Supporters of Brezler have renewed the debate about his case since Comey’s announcement about Clinton. They argue that the case shows the discrepancy in how rank-and-file service members and their potential commander-in-chief are treated.