(CBS News) A Marine Reserve officer could be thrown out of the military for sending classified information from his personal e-mail account, but some in Washington say he shouldn't be disciplined -- they believe he is a hero.
A New York City firefighter in his civilian life, Jason Brezler is also a major in the Marine Corps Reserve, a veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Three years ago in southern Afghanistan, he met a local police chief named Sarwar Jan, who, according to Brezler's attorney, Kevin Carroll, turned out to be a criminal. Carroll said, "Jason became aware of the fact that he was raping children and had him fired for that reason, and other reasons as well."
Last year, Marines in Afghanistan e-mailed Brezler that Sarwar Jan had somehow managed to get back on the police force. Carroll said, "It was a message entitled 'IMPORTANT: SARWAR JAN IS BACK!!!!" Exclamation marks, all caps. They sent it to his Yahoo account while he was attending graduate school."
CBS News' David Martin asked Carroll, "And what did he do when he got that e-mail?"
Carroll said, "He responded by telling them everything that he knew."
Using his Yahoo account, Brezler e-mailed an intelligence summary which was marked secret. Carroll said, "Without getting into details, it recounted all the derogatory information that was available about Sarwar Jan."
So did Brezler realize he was sending potentially classified information?
Carroll said he did not. "As soon as Marines in Afghanistan replied that he might have sent classified information, he immediately turned himself in to his own chain of command."
Two weeks later, three Marines were killed in a so-called insider attack. The alleged gunman was a teenage servant who worked for Sarwar Jan. One of the dead, Lance Cpl.Gregory Buckley, lived in the district of Rep. Peter King, D-N.Y. He, along with other members of Congress and even some Marine generals, considers Brezler a hero for trying to warn the Marines, even if the information was classified. King said, "The fact there's a technical error should not obscure the fact that he was trying to alert the Marines, to saving the lives of innocent Marines. And because he was not listened to, Marines are dead today."
But Brezler now faces a Board of Inquiry which could kick him out of the Marine Corps for mishandling classified information. Carroll said, "To a Naval Academy graduate, decorated veteran of four tours in Afghanistan and Iraq who loves the United States Marine Corps, that would be a very serious penalty indeed."
The board of inquiry will be held next month, Martin added on "CBS This Morning." It could order Brezler discharged from the service, but it also could recommend he be allowed to remain a Marine.
Watch David Martin's full report above.