US military: Dismiss marine who criticized Obama on Facebook

US military: Dismiss marine who criticized Obama on Facebook

Summary: Gary Stein, a marine who has been criticizing U.S. President Obama on Facebook, has been recommended for dismissal by the Marine Corps administrative board. His lawyers are fighting back.

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US military: Dismiss marine who criticized Obama on Facebook

The Marine Corps administrative board says 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 has committed misconduct and should be dismissed. The military board made the decision Thursday after a daylong hearing at Camp Pendleton for Sgt. Gary Stein.

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.

During the hearing yesterday, prosecutor Capt. John Torresala said 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.

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. A general will take the board's recommendations into consideration and will dish out a final verdict.

Stein's lawyers argued he 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. James Baehr told CBS News. "There is no basis in this case. Sgt. Stein has broken no law."

Stein, whose service was to end in four months, told board members during Thursday's hearing that he loved the Marine Corps and wanted to re-enlist, according to Baehr. 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").

Here's the company overview:

Our Armed Forces place their life on the line for political agendas every day, is it common sense to think that they should have no opinion about what they are potentially sacrificing their lives for? We say no! Let them be heard.

We are a simple fan page that is set up to allow active, inactive, or retired members of the United States Armed Forces to stand with the Tea Party movement.

We do not represent, and are in no way affiliated with the military, or United States Armed Forces.

There's also a long list of things the organization says it doesn't represent:

  • We are Not a militia.
  • We are Not advocating or promoting the overthrow of any government whether local, state or national.
  • We are Not advocating or promoting violence towards any organization, group or person.
  • We are Not advocating or promoting the removal of any person from his or her elected office.
  • We are Not advocating or promoting that anyone in the Judicial Branch be removed or replaced.
  • We are Not advocating or promoting any particular form of government other than the Constitutional Republic which the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution defined and instituted.
  • We are Not advocating or promoting the rewriting of the Constitution nor are we asking for an Amendment thereto.
  • We are Not advocating or promoting any act or acts of aggression against any organization or person for any reason including, but not limited to; race, religion, national origin, political affiliation, gender or sexual orientation.

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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20 comments
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  • Military

    When you join the military you forfeit your rights. He violated Article 88 of the UCMJ for using contemptuous words towards the President. As such he can be punished under the UCMJ.
    tylersilver
    • He's an NCO, not a commissioned officer

      Article 88 doesn't apply to him.

      Edit: Here's what it actually says.

      "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."
      Aerowind
      • Obama is still his commander-in-chief.

        Did he not post at some point post that he would not necessarily obey?

        That would make some kind of military; each soldier contemplating whether they will obey orders or not.

        He has to go.
        D.T.Long
      • That's a slippery slope that the Germans fell down.

        How many atrocious things occurred during WW2 because they were "just following orders"? Hint: They were tried for war crimes anyway. Until he actually is insubordinate, I don't see how they have a leg to stand on.
        Aerowind
      • Rest assured you will find out

        The WW2 analogy is about as far fetched as it gets, but reasonable arguments can be hard to come by around here sometimes.

        I am not even an American and disagree with lot of past American foreign policy, but I have no trouble understanding that he cannot serve. His discharge should probably be dishonorable.

        Edit: If he had said that he would refuse to obey illegal orders issued by his immediate superior, no-one would have taken issue with him. Pi$$ing all over your commander-in-chief is an ENTIRELY different matter. If that is how you feel, get the hell out of the armed forces.
        D.T.Long
      • actually...

        actually no one in the armed forces is supposed to follow unlawful orders. It doesn't matter if they like or dislike their orders, if they are ordered to do something that is wrong, they are supposed to refuse the order.
        doh123
  • I'd have done the same thing

    Bravo to the soldier for standing up for what's right.

    Obama is not worthy of anyone's respect.
    Pete&Pete
    • Nothing like.....

      being "brave" when there are no consequences.

      Pitiful
      D.T.Long
    • Personally

      I feel bad for those duped into voting for that Filthy Arab. In 2001 the US was attacked by one Arab, in 2008 the people chose another Arab to lead the country into oblivion.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Tsssss

        Wow, I guess some americans have not heard that the whole worlds thinks the tea party is just a bunch of comedians. Obama has gained more respect in the world than the Bushes, Clinton and Reagan ever had.
        IE9
      • IE9

        What planet are you living on? Ossama Obama is one of the worst person's to ever disgrace this country's highest office. I believe the honorable Marine was, and is, well within his rights to state the facts. I'll take the word of someone that defends the US Flag, over the words of someone that has actively burned US Flags (Obama). One that fights for our rights (the Marine), over someone that shelters Illegal Aliens (Obama)
        Jumpin Jack Flash
  • I'm not an Obama supporter by any stretch

    But this Marine was wrong. [b]He is subject to the UCMJ[/b], and should not criticize our president (no matter how much his politics may be off base!), especially with charactures like he did. It may not sound fair, but that is the way it is in the military.

    And yes, if an unlawful order is given, he should not follow it. I agree with Stein on that. He doesn't need to publicize it though.
    longhornak
  • My 2 Cents Worth

    It seems the one thing that posters aren't keeping in mind who defend this marine is that it is still a violation and he wasn't technically given an illegal order. Additionally the idea of the legal order isn't a personal evaluation with the litmus test being your personal beliefs. That said his actions are a far cry from a WW2 Nazi scenario or Vietnam's Ming Lai.

    I also don't believe the burning of the Quran on the basis of safety; why give more ammo and support to those your fighting? It's really about strategy and consideration and frankly any loss of life that can be avoided by something as simple as not burning a Quran isn't anything horrible in my eyes.
    Evo_7
    • What bothers me...

      Is all of the fine, upstanding members of our Military, that gave their lives, so those ignorant liberals can whine about burning a book containing Anti-American hate speech. These are the same people that will burn a bible, without batting an eye. The same people that regularly burn American flags (including that filthy Arab Obama). Did you know that Obama is all for building a Mosque at Ground Zero? He's a Muslim, and sympathizes with the Taliban.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Who cares what his religion is?

        Ever hear of that "freedom of religion" thing? Plus, that has nothing to do with this article. This is an article about a Marine who posted his commander-in-chief in a non-flattering and arguably a deragatory way.

        Try to stay on topic.
        longhornak
      • longhornak

        I'm willing to bet you voted for the filthy Taliban loving Arab?
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • How much you want to bet? I could use the money.

        I'm a conservative that borders on libertarian. No way I voted for him then, and no way that I vote for him now! His policies will, in my opinion, damage our country.

        However, again you go off topic. Try to stay focused.
        longhornak
      • I have an issue with what he represents

        H represents the worst things about the political system, combined with racism, and hatred. I have no problems with black people, but I can't stand those damn racists.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Jumpin Jack Flash

        simply using the word "liberal" as though it's some kind of valid argument ain't gonna get it done. you have anything to offer that's not a sound bite? something with substance? or you just going with what your handlers have taught you to say? 'cause you've learned your lessons well. why, i'll bet you actually believe you came to your conclusions through reason and intellect.


        you've been der sturmered pal. and you don't even know it.
        oneleft
  • Not a freedom of speech issue...

    When you work for a company, if you badmouth the boss in public, and he finds out about it, you WILL be fired. You will not be given a good recommendation. This case is similar. The President is the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. As a Marine, the President is his ultimate boss. It doesn't matter how he feels about the President, he is not allowed to show him disrespect in public. I don't know the Military Code, but it's just a violation of common sense. This person is not intelligent enough to defend our country. Who knows what other bone-headed decisions he would make.
    Unusual1