Military board says Marine who criticized Obama on Facebook should be dismissed

(Orig OneMarine's View post here)

CAMP PENDLETON, California –  A Marine who criticized President Barack Obama on his Facebook page has committed misconduct and should be dismissed, a military board recommended late Thursday.

The Marine Corps administrative board made the decision after a daylong hearing at Camp Pendleton for Sgt. Gary Stein.

The board also recommended that Stein be given an other-then-honorable discharge. That would mean Stein would lose his benefits and would not be allowed on any military base.

The board's recommendations go to a general who will either accept or deny them. If the general disagrees with the board, the case could go to the secretary of the Navy.

Stein's lawyers argued that the 9-year Marine, whose service was to end in four months, was expressing his personal views and exercising his First Amendment rights.

"We're truly surprised and disappointed but it was an honor to fight for a hero like Sgt. Stein and every other Marine's right to speak freely," Stein's defense attorney Marine Capt. Jame Baehr said."

Stein addressed board members during Thursday's hearing, tell them he loved the Marine Corps and wanted to re-enlist, Baehr said.

During the hearing, the prosecutor, Capt. John Torresala, said Stein went as far as superimposing images of Obama's face on a poster for the movie "Jackass."

Torresala argued that Stein's behavior repeatedly violated Pentagon policy that limits the free speech rights of service members, and said he should be dismissed after ignoring warnings from his superiors about his postings.

The government submitted screen grabs of Stein's postings on one Facebook page he created called Armed Forces Tea Party, which the prosecutor said included the image of Obama on the "Jackass" movie poster. Stein also superimposed Obama's image on a poster for "The Incredibles" movie that he changed to "The Horribles," the prosecutor said.

Torresala also said anti-Obama comments by Stein that were posted on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists were prejudicial to good order and discipline, and could have influenced junior Marines.

Stein's security clearance was taken away and he has no future in the Marine Corps because he can't do his job without that clearance, Torresala said.

"The Marine Corps community views the command's lack of action as some kind of knock on good order and discipline," Torresala said. "Our own people are questioning why this Marine is not being held accountable."

Baehr said during the hearing that prosecutors were trying to dredge up any damaging information they could against Stein.

"There is no basis in this case," Baehr said. "Sgt. Stein has broken no law."

The military has had a policy since the Civil War limiting the free speech of service members, including criticism of the commander in chief.

Pentagon directives say military personnel in uniform cannot sponsor a political club; participate in any TV or radio program or group discussion that advocates for or against a political party, candidate or cause; or speak at any event promoting a political movement.

Commissioned officers also may not use contemptuous words against senior officials.

Backed by a team of lawyers and congressmen, Stein has said he is fighting for his constitutional rights and should be allowed to stay in the military. His lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union contend his views are protected by the First Amendment.

"Think about how dangerous this could be if the U.S. government can prosecute you for something you say on your private Facebook page," Baehr said.

Stein has said his opinions are his own and has put a disclaimer on his Facebook page saying so. His attorneys argued service members have a right to voice their opinions as long as they do not appear to be presenting their views as being endorsed by the military. They say the Pentagon policy is vague and military officials do not understand it.

The Marine Corps has said it decided to take administrative action after Stein declared on Facebook that he would not follow orders from Obama and later clarified that statement saying he would not follow unlawful orders.

Stein could face other-than-honorable discharge while seeing his rank reduced to lance corporal and losing his benefits. The nine-year veteran was set to finish his service in four months.

He said he was removed from his job at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego last month and given a desk job with no access to computers.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a former Marine, wrote a letter to Stein's commanding officer stating the sergeant should not face dismissal for an opinion shared by a majority of Marines. Hunter said he was referring to Stein's statement that he would not obey unlawful orders. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also expressed support for Stein.

Stein said his statement about Obama was part of an online debate about NATO allowing U.S. troops to be tried for the Quran burnings in Afghanistan.

In that context, he said, he was stating that he would not follow orders from the president if it involved detaining U.S. citizens, disarming them or doing anything else that he believes would violate their constitutional rights.

Comments

  1. I guess I don’t understand why soldiers are dying in order to protect our freedom of speech yet do not have the same right to freedom of speech. Are they ever allowed to disagree with the commander in chief and if so what is the proper way to express this?????

  2. He should convert To ISLAM quick after all the Cowardly Generals are still paying that mass murderer.
    OH wait I forgot they care about Diversity.
    Fire every SOB above the Rank of LT. COL.
    Not good enough I go lower.

  3. I over heard awhile back from a friend who is a Military Lawyer that there may or will be a law that states any American Soldier who joins the Military of any branch that is station outside of the country has signed a military agreement upon enrollment They are not under any protection from the American amendments or Declaration of independence as they are out of the country which means they have no rights outside. So basically you’re screwed and may face harsh sentences depending the case…You can thank 9/11 for that. and also if any soldier that has spent more than 5 years outside American border after his mission has ended shall not be eligible for some military benefits especially if he resided in a country that has had a war with America..how true all this is i am not sure, i have not heard from him over 7 years so any updates is a null..

  4. There was more to the story than this. He was counseled not to continue and he did. He also stated “As an active duty Marine… ” bad way to start a sentence when you’re claiming “personal opinion, and not related to the Corps”. Good job, (hopefully) EX-Marine.
    and Mary Kay, respectfully, those “soldiers” who are dying have a different life than a civilian. We are expected to do more with different rules. It’s not like it’s a surprise. We know it’s different going in. Had this numbnuts badmouthed any other boss, he would have consequences. Freedom of speech means you’re ALLOWED to say it, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any CONSEQUENCES. (but thanks for thinking of us. there’s too many who hate us on general principle.)

  5. He went way too far. Kick him out. When you join the big green MFer you give up some of the freedom you’re fighting for….that’s the way it has always been and it’s worked. It this is OK what’s next, a vote of whether you’re going to return fire or participate in an assualt?

  6. Either get out or don’t complain. Right on. You lose quite a few constitutional rights when you enlist.
    With 20 years and four Presidents, I shut up quite a bit. Under Clinton, I considered getting out or early retirement many many times.

  7. @ Kabayu, Do not use WE or US you may be in some other branch of service but you are NO MARINE! There are no “EX” MARINES only Former. I love the Marine Corps with all my heart & am proud to have earned the title! To you uninformed who so hastily throw Sgt.Stein to the spineless Political Officers who bring shame to ALL MARINES with this act of Socialist/Communist treatment of a Marine who has a stellar record & has served his Nation & Corps very well for almost 10 years…Shame on ALL YOUR HEADS!!!! How can you crucify a Marine for stating his own opinion about a “POTUS” who dosen’t have ANY RESPECT himself for the ARMED FORCES OR THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES!!! This is excatly how a Dictatorship begins, Chipping away slowly untill one day you wake up & It’s illegal to say anything negative against the “President”! It’s a slippery slope we are on & before you are so quick to judge Sgt.Stein look at what he is saying!!! YOU MAY BE NEXT!!!!! THINK!!!!

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