US military dismisses marine who criticized Obama on Facebook

US military dismisses marine who criticized Obama on Facebook

Summary: The Marine Corps has decided to dismiss Gary Stein, a marine who criticized U.S. President Obama on Facebook. Stein and his lawyers plan to fight back, but they don't have high hopes.

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The U.S. military has decided to discharge Sgt. Gary Stein for various posts he made on Facebook. The Marine Corps said Wednesday he will get an other-than-honorable discharge and lose most of his benefits for violating policies.

Stein said he was disappointed by the decision and argued he was exercising his constitutional rights to free speech. "I love the Marine Corps, I love my job," he told CBS News. "I wish it wouldn't have gone this way. I'm having a hard time seeing how 15 words on Facebook could have ruined my nine-year career."

Stein 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. Two weeks ago, Federal District Judge Marilyn Huff in San Diego denied a request to block the discharge proceedings, saying 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."

The Marine Corps administrative board, which made the dismissal recommendation, argued he committed misconduct. In addition, 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.

Stein is allowed to appeal if he is discharged. That's exactly what he plans to do: he will continue to fight outside the military and go to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gary Kreep, an attorney for Stein, said he would pursue administrative appeals within the Marine Corps, but doesn't have high hopes, and would also file an amended complaint in federal court.

The Marine Corps decided to take administrative action after Stein declared "Screw Obama and I will not follow all orders from him" on Facebook. 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 also 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.

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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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36 comments
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  • Total voilation of free speech.

    Total voilation of free speech.

    You see people making fun of obama all the time, and nothing happens to them. He is only elected and only represents 51% of the people. People in government are always mocking each other. Republicans vs Democrats etc. Either way, its no reason to strip someone of their bennifits as they already did the service. Stripping someone of their bennifits is penalizing someone because of free speech.
    ShqTth
    • WHats next?

      Whats next? WHen someone votes for another party in the election they get dismissed too?
      ShqTth
      • election comming up

        There is an election to come up. Free speech is all part of the process. If no one knew each others views, then who knows who to vote for? Its not like he was moking usa, he was mocking 51%.
        ShqTth
      • Told you Obama is as awful as Bush, didn't we?

        no text
        LBiege
    • Well...you're wrong.

      The President...EVERY President...is also "The Commander in Chief", and as such is this idiot's Commander. Do you comprehend that?

      When one is in the military...the military take a dim view of subordinates criticizing superior officers...and that is exactly what this clown did.

      If he wanted to do thnigs lke this, he should have waited until he was discharged.

      So now that he is...he is now free to have his say...too bad he pi$$ed away ten years of service...and his benefits.

      I have absolutely no sympathy for him.
      It'sNotMe
      • I agree. The same people who claim his freedom of speech was trampled on

        are the same people who trample on their kids freedom of speech everyday. Or their subordinates at work.
        Funny how they'll threaten punishment against others for not following the established "Military Command Hierarchy" at home or work, but think it's wrong for the Military to do the same. ;)
        William Farrel
      • No, you are wrong

        As a decorated vet, son and brother of decorated vets...you are wrong. The members of the armed forces do NOT surrender their constitutional rights, while they risk their lives for yours!

        He is not allowed to disobey a LAWFUL order (take a look at Lt. Calley). You are required NOT to obey unlawful orders.

        As far as stating that the President is an a$$, so long as you are not in uniform, acting as a member of the military you still have the First Amendment right to speak out against government wrongs.

        Redress of grievances is a Constitutional right of ALL Americans!
        timspublic1@...
      • You are incorrect, timspublic1@...

        Having been in uniform myself, I understand that I am free to say that which I would like, but I must also suffer the consequences for those words.
        I can not speak out against my superiors with the belief that I will not be punished for doing so.

        As stated above, we are always free to voice anything we wish, so no right was given up, but we do so with the understanding that the reaction to those words may not be to our liking.
        Tim Cook
      • Spock's costume

        [i]Having been in uniform myself, I understand that I am free to say that which I would like, but I must also suffer the consequences for those words.[/i]

        You mean that blue TV smock you got over at Desilu Studios back in 1966. That 'uniform', right?

        Goes pretty good with the green greasepaint, huh? ;)
        ScorpioBlack
    • A little understanding of the issue would go a long way.

      http://www.armytimes.com/community/ask_lawyer/military_askthelawyer_070827w/

      You're wrong.

      By the way, he'd been warned about his actions once before.
      msalzberg
      • Real good source

        to quote the military mouth piece is really irrelevant.
        timspublic1@...
    • No violation of free speech, as no one stopped him from saying it.

      Define "free speech"? The freedom to yell "FIRE! FIRE!" in a movie theater? The freedom to say "I'm not hiring you. For the record, I won't hire child molestors or murderers". I never said the guy was one, nor did I say I wasn't hiring him for that reasons. But it could be "implied".

      This guy said he would never follow an illegal order given by Preisident Obama. Was he implying that President Obama gives illegal orders?

      He was also bound to keep his comments to himself. He could say whatever he wanted when he wasn't in the employ of the US government, after he served his contract

      No one stopped him, or jailed him for saying what he wanted. We're all allowed to say [b]whatever[/b] we want. You just have to understand that everything you say, every move you make, has a repercussion.
      William Farrel
    • Anyone that stupid

      Doesn't deserve to be a Marine.
      tonymcs@...
  • Military Superior

    When you are enlisted in the military it is not a "job" it is a committment. You can't just quit, you have to follow orders and do things a certain way. In order for them to have a high level of discipline and maintain command structure integrity, subordinates cannot openly demand or suggest that others stop following orders or criticize their superiors.
    A better way to understand this is the concept of a mutiny (though extreme). You can't openly challenge the captain. A soldier cannot criticize his commander in chief, if he does, he risks a dishonorable discharge. That's is why this is a military affair and not a civilian one.
    rgor@...
  • @LBiege...you're brain-dead.

    This has absolutely NOTHING to do with either Bush or Obama.

    If Ron Paul were president (obviously your choice), and this nitwit did what he did...he would still be out on his a$$.

    Please go troll somewhere else.
    IT_Fella
  • US military dismisses marine who criticized Obama on Facebook

    I thought military people were allowed to protest as long as they didn't do it in uniform. That being said, I have no idea why he would want to appeal this ruling knowing he got kicked out and if let back in they would just make his life a living heck for the duration of his time in the military.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • This is such old news...

    why does this keep circulating the internet(s)
    x21x
  • The marine did violate the code of military conduct; however,

    the marine was spot on with most of his remarks regarding Obama.

    The marine will have to pay for his violation of that code, but, he's probably going to reap some rewards for his insubordination. Not saying he deserves it, but, there will be many who will support the marine's rights to say what he feels, and those people likely feel the same about Obama.
    adornoe
    • Well when they found out about your toe-tappin' buddies

      You didn't qualify now did you?

      LOL... :D
      ScorpioBlack
      • You little puny-brained e-d-ut, I was a Marine, and I even went to war

        to defend your right to be annoying and "stoopeed".

        Now, go and tell your mommy what you did to annoy the adults on the internet again.

        BTW, you wouldn't last a day in the Marines, and especially if I were to be in charge of someone like you.
        adornoe