Judge: Marine who criticized Obama on Facebook can be dismissed

Judge: Marine who criticized Obama on Facebook can be dismissed

Summary: The Marine Corps administrative board is looking to dismiss Gary Stein, a marine who criticized U.S. President Obama on Facebook. A judge has denied a request to block the discharge proceedings.

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US military: Dismiss marine who criticized Obama on Facebook

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.

US military: Dismiss marine who criticized Obama on Facebook

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Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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32 comments
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  • So now you can't criticize the president or current administration

    just because you are in the armed forces? Sounds like he is trying to defend the citizens of the United States which is what I thought the Armed services is supposed to do.
    bobiroc
    • I think we both need proof

      as to what the truth is, because the last time I recall reading any of the military's policies, it is NOT allowed to do such criticism and one must follow orders and even if you do not like the orders, and that little rule was in place long before Obama took office.
      HypnoToad72
      • My Point is

        I respect this Marine for trying to stand up against the crap the government is pushing on US Citizens today. As soldiers and citizens it is our job and our right to question the leadership of this nation.

        But yes, actual proof would be nice.
        bobiroc
      • What I would like to know is there a double standard in effect?

        bobiroc
        In other words did this Marine complain about what ever mysterious unlawful acts (Wish I could know more about this) When GW Bush and company were passing things like the Patriot Act and such? Or did he wait for Obama to take office and start complaining why exactly? Also again I go back to Bush and the Republicans at that time making this a "WAR' on terror for you see under the constitution a war gives the President extraordinary powers and as far as I know nobody has reclassified this thing as it should have been known as a police action and not a war. Terrorism is not a nation or a people it is a tactic.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • How long do you think the average employee would

      survive after posting facebook messages disparaging his employer like that?

      As HypnoToad stated, you take an oath when you join the military. Part of that oath is to obey the UCMJ. Article 88 UCMJ "Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. "
      Article 89 "Any person subject to this chapter who behaves with disrespect toward his superior commissioned officer shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."
      whatagenda
      • His Employer

        First of all Obama is NOT his employer. The citizens of the United States are. I am not saying he is NOT in violation of the rules but when the rules are used to protect possible illegal acts and actions that could violate the rights of the Citizens of the Nation then it is time those actions are questioned.
        bobiroc
      • @ bobiroc

        I did not say Obama was his employer. I asked a question of what you thought would happen in the private sector.

        That said, Obama is his commanding officer.

        I also did not say I was in favor of the UCMJ ... I just quoted what the Sgt. swore to obey when he joined the Marines. He screwed up.
        whatagenda
      • As a Sgt...

        he would be a noncommissioned officer. Not a commissioned officer. But even as an NCO or below you are still not allowed to talk crap about your chain of command and Obama is at the top of his chain of command.

        He is fully justified in saying he would not follow an unlawful order. The trick though is knowing the difference between a lawful and unlawful order and being able to defend your decision not to follow it. I think his problem mainly comes from the images he created and posted not his verbal statements.
        Test Subject
      • bobiroc, what illegal acts are you refering to?

        [i]but when the rules are used to protect possible illegal acts and actions that could violate the rights of the Citizens of the Nation then it is time those actions are questioned.[/i]

        I saw no illegal acts here, instead someone who violated the rules he took an oath to obey.

        This is not a "what if" scenerio, as if something illegal was going on it would be handeled diiferently. This was a clear cut case of violating the military code of conduct.

        He was not attempting to protect the rights of the Citizens of the Nation.

        :|
        Tim Cook
    • Bobiroc's comment

      I guess you are in the dark. Wake up.
      You can't criticize your employer .. civilian or military w/o repercussions. Yes, you have the right to do so and they have the right to punish you for doing so.
      xyz333
    • I suggest the US builds its defence from volunteers from Obama's Left

      I'm sure plenty of them would be stepping up to serve. Ok probably none;-)

      Why are people on facebook anyway? He shouldn't have published what he said, talk best had at a pub after a few beers (like we did in the past).
      Richard Flude
      • No problem killing here:)

        But I'm soooo NOT a team player. If needed Id not have a problem killing someone whi needed killing but I'm not likely to be the type to take a hill knowing x amount of those trying will die in the attempt. CHARGE and face almost certain death... Um no. Just saying... So sniper maybe assassin those kinds of things sure but infantry heck no. Still conflicts need snipers and assassins so I'm in:)

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
  • First point the "blank" the government is pushing on us is not

    new but rather came many of said rules and regulation under GW Bush. Things like tye Patriot Act and such.

    Second since I'm thinking this Marine was in the military under GW Bush did he make similar postings/comments? Also since this is not allowed in the military regardless of whom is president at the time why would we expect anything different in terms of outcome while Obama is president? If we allowed each individual troop determine what is lawful and what is not doesn't that open up a HUGE can of worms? Besides is that not Cogresses and the Supreme Courts job?

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • What the hell does GW has to do with the article??

      Sounds like you are such a fanatic, that you can't pull the politics out of any news that involve the name of Obama.

      Here is a fact, people have the right to say what they want. But that does not mean that they are except from the consequences of his/her words.

      I'm not an Obama supported and feel that he is an incompetent idiot. But I still agree with this ruling because as a Marine he is bound by a code of conduct that he knowingly violated.
      wackoae
    • It is every soldiers job to determine...

      what is a lawful and unlawful order no matter the source of that order. It is not the job of the courts and Congress. The individual soldier does not have the time to wait around for the government to get involved. One of the first things you are taught is not to follow unlawful orders. Another thing they teach is if you do not follow an order you had better be sure that it was unlawful and be able to justify why you didn't follow it.
      Test Subject
    • My point...

      wackoae
      The "illegal" or in my humble opinion "un american" stuff the marine was referring too was put into place under GW Bush. So I'm wondering why now? Did said marine post similar concerns/worries when GW Bush was President or now that Obama is President does he feel the need to do so because? Why?

      As for Obama's performance. Well from were I stand he saved our economy. Granted it's been a slow slog to get where we are now and we still have more to do but heck the last actual depression took us a decade or more to recover from and we came razor edge close to having the second depression something I am personally glad we avoided. Obama has put into place or re established the Glass/Stegal regulation to prevent banks from doing well what they did to get us in that position in the first place. Credit Card reform no more multi paged contracts but a simple made to be read and understood contract that makes everyone aware of the individual card holders responsibilities and rights as well as the card distributors rights and responsibilities. Student loan reform. And key to me Health Care reform. The list goes on and on an on. So I say not bad over all.

      Now if you did not like the way Obama saved GM and the general economy please tell me what you'd have done? I grant you that pulling us out of free fall was expensive and will be hard to pay back but what was the other option? Allowing all the banks to fail and well as GM and what was it Chrysler? If so what do you think ours and the worlds as a whole economies would look like today? You think it's bad now... I can say you ain't seen nothing yet:)

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Again what the hell does GW has to do with the article

        Get your head out of Obama's politics rear end. This is not an article about politics.
        wackoae
      • It was not put into place under President Bush

        the military always had the right to set what and when something could be said by personel in the military.

        President Bush may have extended it to include the internet, but an active soldier could not go on television, radio, or print and say anything he wished withour repercussion.

        So please dispense with your President Obama polictical campaigning, which would be better placed on a non-technology board.

        And please stick to facts, not "FUD".

        :|
        Tim Cook
    • Wrong laws, no need to drag Bush in every chance you get -_-

      "First point the 'blank' the government is pushing on us is not
      new but rather came many of said rules and regulation under GW Bush. Things like tye Patriot Act and such. "

      Umm, wow.

      Article 88 is in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, while the Patriot Act is in the United States Code.

      We're talking about military policy here, not federal law.

      Did you really have to put in anti-Bush stuff? It's not relevant in the least, and frankly it's gotten old. Whether they're for him or against him, people made up their minds about Bush a long time ago. I doubt they'll ever change their minds at this point. No need to drag him in every chance you get.
      CobraA1
      • I'm referring to the "illegal" acts a solder might be ordered to commit.

        like for instance if an American citizen is accused of being a terrorist said citizen can be thrown into who knows what kind of detention and never be charged, know why they were arrested, or tried. These so called regulations were passed during the GW Bush administration. Which is why I keep bringing him up and I wonder why the Marine in question does not or did not complain during that time mostly out of simple curiosity. These are the type of things the Marine was saying that he would not do if ordered by Obama to do. I have no complaint with the Marine corp and what they did to the solder based on the terms of his contract with said branch of the military. I don't see why you can't understand this it is fairly simple... the case of what the marine said and what the Marines did is open and shut I'm interested in the motivations behind this fellows rant does he think Obama is giving such orders? Is it just Obama or would he have said the same while serving under Bush? Was he or did he serve under Bush? If so did he ever say such things? If not then is there something coloring this man's perspective when it comes to Obama?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn