- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2014

The family of a Marine murdered in Afghanistan as he worked out in a gym is accusing the Corps of a cover-up by refusing to turn over documents that would show the dangerous environment inside Forward Operating Base Delhi.

A lawyer for the family of Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley Jr. says Lance Cpl. Buckley and two other Marines were gunned down by a young civilian in a close relationship with a corrupt Afghan police chief. Sarwar Jan was known to help the enemy yet was allowed to work inside the FOB.

“Since the Aug. 10, 2012, murders, the Marine Corps has refused to provide the standard death investigative report,” said attorney Michael J. Bowe. He said the Corps told the father, Gregory T. Buckley Sr., that if he wanted to attend the suspects’ trial in an Afghan courtroom he would have to get there on his own. With little notice, the trial occurred last week, leaving Mr. Buckley no time to make arrangements.

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“This is an ugly story,” said Mr. Bowe, a partner in a prestigious national law firm that took the case pro bono. “[It is a] cover-up because no one wanted Americans to know that we were forcing our young men and women to share bases and work with corrupt Afghan officials who were raping children, shaking down villagers, collaborating with the Taliban and opium dealers and putting them in environments where we could not protect them.

“As a result,” he said, “not only did three United States Marines get murdered in their own base gymnasium, but the truth about how and why those murders happened has been systematically suppressed because it contradicts the administration’s narrative.”

An Air Force carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley, 21, of Oceanside, N.Y., Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (Associated press)
An Air Force carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains ... more >

The Marine Corps disputes this, providing a statement to The Washington Times detailing security at Delhi and the amount of communications it has maintained with the three families.

“Our approach to supporting the families of our fallen Marines is based on our unwavering commitment to loyalty,” the statement said.

The murders at the Helmand Province FOB came amid a wave of insider, or “green on blue,” attacks carried out by Afghan security personnel working closely with the Americans. Also shot and killed in the gym were Cpl. Richard A. Rivera Jr. and Staff Sgt. Scott E. Dickinson. A fourth Marine took a number of rounds and was nearly killed.

Compounding the murders, Mr. Bowe said, is the approach the Marine Corps has taken in dealing with the Buckley family’s search for answers.

“They followed up, followed up, followed up, and they’ve gotten no information,” he said. “Basically the Marine Corps and government paid lip service and otherwise washed their hands of this.”

He said a Corps liaison officer ultimately told the family to file a U.S. Freedom of Information Act request.

“Unbelievably, this Gold Star family was told that if they wanted information, they would need to file FOIA requests like any old citizen,” he said. “And then they completely ignored those FOIA requests anyway.”

Last week, Mr. Bowe sent a letter to the Corps calling its lack of responses “frankly unacceptable.”

“This nation, and the Marine Corps in particular, owe far more to the Gold Star families of these murdered Marines, including at the minimum the basics that are not being provided,” said Mr. Bowe of law firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP.

Some of what the government did tell the family was incorrect, he said.

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