Federal District Judge Marilyn Huff in San Diego has denied a request to block discharge proceedings of Sgt. Gary Stein, a marine who criticized U.S. President Barack Obama on his Facebook profile and posted comical images on a Facebook Page he created called Armed Forces Tea Party. Huff ruled on Friday that the U.S. military had the right to respond to Stein's online comments, which included "Obama is the economic enemy ... He is the religious enemy ... he is the 'Fundamentally change' America enemy ... he IS the Domestic Enemy," according to court papers.
The Marine Corps administrative board argues he committed misconduct and should be dismissed. The military board made the decision last week, after a daylong hearing at Camp Pendleton for Sgt. Gary Stein. In addition to the dismissal recommendation, the board also suggested that Stein be given "other than honorable" discharge, meaning the marine of nine years would lose his benefits and would not be allowed on any military base.
While the appeal to save Stein failed, this case is not yet over. A general will take the board's recommendations as well as the judge's ruling, and will dish out a final verdict.
Huff noted Stein is allowed to appeal if he is discharged. That's exactly what he plans to do according to CBS News: he will continue to fight outside the military and go to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While Stein acknowledged this option, he argued he wants to avoid being dismissed in the first place, and doesn't want to lose his career over "15 words on Facebook." He also pointed out he has never disobeyed an order.
The Marine Corps decided to take administrative action after Stein declared on Facebook that he would not follow orders from Obama. Stein said his statement was part of an online debate about NATO allowing U.S. troops to be tried for the Quran burnings in Afghanistan. He explained 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. He later clarified the original statement, saying he would not follow unlawful orders.
Stein superimposed images of Obama's face on a poster for Jackass : The Movie as well a poster for "The Incredibles" movie, the title of which he changed to "The Horribles." I found the latter on Facebook (it was posted on March 20), but I was unable to locate the former – it may have been pulled, or simply hidden from the Page's timeline. Stein's lawyers argued he was expressing his personal views and exercising his First Amendment rights.
Stein, whose service ends July 28, told board members he loved the Marine Corps and wanted to re-enlist. The Facebook Page makes it very clear that Stein's opinions are his own ("We do not represent, and are in no way affiliated with the military, or United States Armed Forces") and that the Page's mission is to offer a place for discussing politics ("To offer a forum that will allow the voices of the US Armed Forces to stand with the Tea Party movement, and be heard").
Stein said the Facebook postings resulted in him losing his job at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego last month. He was instead given a desk job with no computer access.
- Men get seven years for Facebook cartoons of Prophet Mohammed
- Palestinian arrested for insulting president on Facebook
- Man arrested for allegedly insulting Thailand's king on Facebook
- Man faces five years for 'God does not exist' Facebook post
- Australian deported from Bahrain over Facebook posts
- Russians use Facebook to protest alleged election fraud