More than a year after three Marines were shot to death on their base in an insider attack by an Afghan police chief's "tea boy," there is still no official explanation for why a warning that could well have prevented the tragedy seems to have gone unheeded.
There is also no explanation for why the police chief was allegedly allowed to sexually assault children with apparent impunity on an American military facility.
But authorities have taken action against one person they should be praising, the 32-year-old Marine Reserve officer who issued the warning about the police chief and his crimes.
Marine Reserve Maj. Jason Brezler-now also a firefighter with the elite Rescue 2 of the FDNY-faces a forced exit from the Marine Corps as a result of an inconsequential security infraction he committed in his hurry to respond to an urgent email from Afghanistan that he received two years after he returned home.
The July 25, 2012, email that popped up on Brezler's Yahoo account was sent to him from Helmand Province by a fellow Marine officer, and its subject line made its urgency unmistakable:
"IMPORTANT: SARWAR JAN IS BACK!!!"
Exclamation points by themselves in a message from Helmand meant it could very well be a matter of life and death. The name Sarwar Jan made it all the more so.
Jan had been district police chief when Brezler served in the same town, Naw Zad, in 2010. Brezler had come to the conclusion that Jan was involved in narcotics and arms trafficking as well as facilitating attacks by the Taliban, even selling Afghan police uniforms to the enemy. Jan also was alleged to be what Brezler's lawyer would call "a systematic child rapist" who allegedly ran a child kidnapping ring and acquired "tea boys" with the help of U.S. taxpayer job development money.
Jan might have imagined himself untouchable as the protégé of an accused drug lord who has connections to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Brezler kept pushing and was finally able to pressure the provincial governor into removing Jan from his post, a rare and notable bright spot in the bloodiest province in the bloodiest year of the war.
But now here was this email from a fellow Marine officer in Afghanistan saying Jan was back as police chief and had allegedly been raping as many as nine boys at Forward Operating Base Delhi. The email asked Brezler for any information he might be able to provide.
The Marines had not issued laptops during Brezler's deployment, and he had used his own to send and receive reports while in the war zone. He was at a graduate school seminar using this same laptop when he received the email from Helmand, and it seemed like a stroke of great luck that the lone report he inadvertently still had on hand summarized the allegations against Jan.
Brezler attached the report to his reply and emailed it with the same urgency that he would demonstrate as a firefighter whenever an alarm came in. He made clear in the accompanying message that he considered Jan a serious threat who allegedly dealt with the enemy while essentially making the Americans party to sex crimes against children.
The fellow officer who had made the inquiry and received the response, identified by one source as Marine Maj. Brian Donlon, noted that in his haste Brezler had sent what was technically a classified document via an insecure mode of communication. Brezler acknowledged the error and duly reported himself, in keeping with a code of honor befitting a graduate of the Naval Academy.