Late Marine's Family Alleges U.S. Coverup
by Nick DiVito, Court House News, October 20, 2014
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) - The Marines have flouted their duty to obtain justice for the young soldier gunned down in an Afghanistan gym, his family claims in Federal Court.
Gregory Buckley Jr., a 21-year-old lance corporal from Long Island, joined the military in 2009 after graduating from Oceanside High School, his father and aunt say. Having seen his father and uncle join first responders to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Buckley allegedly wanted to do his part as well.
The family says "Buck" had been stationed in Hawaii when he volunteered to go to Afghanistan, with hopes of becoming an officer.
On Aug. 10, 2012, while Buckley and others were working out in the Forward Operating Base Delhi, an Afghan teen who belonged to the "entourage" of a corrupt local police chief, Sarwar Jan, took an unsecured rifle, entered the unprotected gymnasium and opened fire, according to the complaint.
Ainuddin Khudairaham murdered Buckley, Cpl. Richard Rivera and Staff Sgt. Scott Dickinson, and he seriously wounded a fourth Marine, the complaint alleges.
Buckley's family says Jan was expelled two years prior as chief of Now Zad because he and others were kidnapping and keeping Afghan boys as sex slaves, trafficking narcotics and providing munitions to the Taliban to "facilitate insider attacks on Marine and other coalition forces."
The boys were known as "chai boys" or "tea boys," and part of a "cultural phenomenon" known as "Bacha Bazi," that Afghan police used after the fall of the Taliban. "The standard operating procedure" among the Marines was "to look the other way," Buckley's family claims.
They say the Marine Corps created a dossier on Jan, and that commanders were warned about the threat he posed, but ultimately took no action when Jan arrived at the base as the new chief of the Afghan police in July 2012.
Khudairaham allegedly announced, "I just did jihad," as he fled the gym on Aug. 10, and encouraged other Afghans on the base to do the same.
Buckley's family says their son's assailant was tried by Afghan law enforcement as a juvenile. Khudairaham allegedly lacked birth records but was thought to be 17 or 18 years old. He received the maximum seven-year sentence allowed by Afghan law, according to the complaint.
Cpt. Dustin Pratico, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, declined to comment on the lawsuit "as a matter of policy" Monday.
The gym shooting allegedly occurred a day after "another insider attack in the region in which Afghan police personnel shot to death several special forces Marines immediately after dining with them," the complaint states.
Buckley's family says no warnings were issued after that attack, and "no additional force protection stems were taken."
A month later, an attack by members of the Taliban wearing coalition uniforms on Camp Bastion, a British military base in Afghanistan, ended in the death of two Marines and the destruction of aircraft worth millions, according to the complaint.
"The Marine Corps initially refused to conduct any investigation into this debacle, provide information to the Gold Star families from Camp Bastion, or hold anyone accountable," Buckley's family says.
Congress, the media and families of those slain had to press for details to secure an investigation a year later, the lawsuit states.
That investigation led the Marines to relieve Major Gen. Charles Gurganus of his command, Buckley's family says.
Still, there has allegedly been no investigation of the attack at the Delhi base.
"The Marine Corps knows that any investigation will reveal incompetent, unacceptable, and in the case of FOB Delhi, reprehensible conduct on the part of senior Marine commanders," according to the complaint.
"Among other things, transparency concerning the FOB Delhi murders would force the Marine Corps to address its close-association and work with Sarwar Jan and similarly corrupt, perverted and criminal Afghan officials; its knowledge that these officials were involved in, among other things, the systemic kidnapping of young boys for use as sex slaves, drug trafficking, extortion and corruption, and Taliban collaboration; and its obvious decision to ignore these revolting facts and continue partnering with, and forcing your young Marines to work with, support, and be exposed to these plainly inappropriate and dangerous 'partners,'" the complaint states.
Buckley's family says they have sought more information on the attack under the Freedom of Information Act, but that the Marines have rebuffed their request - "just as it did for so long" on the Camp Bastion attack earlier.
Even after "pressing so hard, for so long, for information and a briefing," the family were "lied to" and told that if they wanted more information they'd need to file a FOIA request, according to the complaint.
Buckley's family says "this is not true," and that they have an "unconditional right" to such information under Title 10. "Misrepresenting these rights to them was illegal and morally perverse," they add.
The family says they filed that FOIA request, to no avail.
"Consistent with this obvious cover-up," the families have "never received even the statutorily required written response to their FOIA requests let alone a single shred of disclosure," the complaint states.
"In short, these Gold Star families were sent on an unnecessary and emotionally traumatizing wild-goose chase for information the Marine Corps was legally obligated to provide in the first place but is obviously determined to never provide," the complaint continues.
The family claims to have emailed the commandant directly, begging for more information and even offering to travel at their own expense.
"All the right things were said and firm promises were made, but none of those promises were kept and none of the legally mandated disclosures were ever made," the lawsuit states.
Buckley's family adds: "The Marine Corps run-around of this Gold Star family had come full circle. Had this 'Whos' on First' routine not been at the expense of a Gold Star family, it would have made Abbott and Costello proud."
After keeping Buckley's family "in the dark" about the alleged killer's prosecution, the Marines advised them against seeking justice in Brooklyn Federal Court.
The family allegedly learned about Khudairaham's light juvenile sentencing from the press after being shut out of proceedings.
"They felt completely betrayed, with [the man's dad] laying in his son's bed, holding his picture weeping as he apologized and asked for his son's forgiveness for not ensuring that his murderer was properly punished," according to the complaint.
"No one at the Marine Corps was actively monitoring that prosecution," the family says. "Indeed, despite their lip service about 'sacred and eternal trust,' no one at the Marine Corps took any steps to ensure that [the] [ sic] murderer of these three Marines was properly prosecuted, or to stand witness to that prosecution on behalf of those dead Marines and their families. They were simply abandoned. The Marine Corps obviously preferred to simply move on."
The young man's family says that the Marine Corps has now "devoted extraordinary investigative and administrative resources" to prosecute Jason Brezler, the Marine who first sent the warning about Jar infiltrating the Marine base.
"The zeal with which the Marine Corps has attacked Major Brezler and stonewalled the Buckley family leaves no doubt that its only real interest is in protecting and managing its public image and the careers of the senior commanders directing these activities," according to the complaint.
The Buckley family wants more information, as well as attorney fees.
It is represented by Michael Bowe with Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in Manhattan.
LINK: Text of Lawsuit