Marines discharge sergeant for Facebook posts

May 1, 2012 @

By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press – 6 days ago

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A sergeant will be discharged for criticizing President Barack Obama on Facebook in a case that called into question the Pentagon’s policies about social media and its limits on the speech of active duty military personnel, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.

Sgt. Gary Stein will get an other-than-honorable discharge and lose most of his benefits for violating the policies, the Corps said.

The San Diego-area Marine who has served nine years in the Corps said he was disappointed by the decision. He argued that he was exercising his constitutional rights to free speech.

“I love the Marine Corps, I love my job. 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,” he told The Associated Press.

Gary Kreep, an attorney for Stein, said he would pursue administrative appeals within the Marine Corps but anticipates the effort will fail. He said he planned to file an amended complaint in federal court.

“As long as he wants to pursue this, we will be supporting him,” said Kreep, who is executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, an advocacy group.

The Marines acted after saying Stein stated March 1 on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists, “Screw Obama and I will not follow all orders from him.” Stein later clarified that statement, saying he would not follow unlawful orders.

Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo, the commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, said in a brief statement Wednesday that evidence supported an administrative board’s recommendation to discharge Stein.

Tom Umberg, a former Army colonel and military prosecutor, said Stein persisted even after being warned.

“The Marine Corps gave him the opportunity to think about his actions, yet Sgt. Stein continued to undermine the chain of command,” said Umberg, who was not involved in Stein’s case. “I think his purpose was to leave the Marine Corps in a dramatic fashion in order to begin a career in talk radio or what have you.”

Umberg believes the decision to discharge Stein will have limited impact because the vast majority of Marines would never consider such postings.

“I think 99 percent of the soldiers and Marines currently on duty understand the duties of supporting the chain of command and understand their rights of free speech are limited,” he said. “To that 1 percent who don’t know their rights to free speech are limited once they take the oath, this is a loud and clear message.”

During a hearing, a military prosecutor 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 a “Jackass” movie poster. Stein also superimposed Obama’s image on a poster for “The Incredibles” movie that he changed to “The Horribles,” military prosecutor Capt. John Torresala said.

At the hearing this month at Camp Pendleton, Torresala argued that Stein’s behavior repeatedly violated Pentagon policy and he should be dismissed after ignoring warnings from his superiors about his postings.

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.

Original Story

6 Comments → “Marines discharge sergeant for Facebook posts”

  1. D ee

    8 years ago

    I’m sure sorry the Marines saw fit to discharge this Marine. As far as I’m
    concerned obama is not fit to be president.

  2. Randy

    8 years ago

    Our military serves and fights for our Constitutional freedoms. One of those, perhaps the most fundamental one, is the freedom of speech. Unless they’ve amended the Constitution in this regard, I don’t think they should lose this right to any degree while serving their country and protecting our rights. I know some will say this is a necessary discipline. To me it seems like being found guilty before the fact and unconstitutional.

  3. John Null

    8 years ago

    That is what happens when the military is run by a bunch of “sensitive” liberals. Between me, mt father and son-in-law there is 44 years of HONORABLE service to this country, for what to wind up protecting a bunch of weakminded politicians who bully and use our military for their own personal agenda? Sounds like something other then a democracy our forefathers designed. Didn’t take us very long to shred the constitution and become a quasi-dictatorship. Open you eyes folks or remember The Third Reich and look at the African nations that where once peaceful and now run by War Lords. Look at the history of man, we are repeating the history of power and destroy. Pray for a BIG change in November. May God once again protect us from US. Old Navy John

  4. Mary

    8 years ago

    If Obama is re-elected, this is only the beginning! So every dollar and effort is needed to defeat him! This is why I was disgusted with The Tea Party who acted like the Democrats when they wasted money on a cruise instead of doing something local that would have cost a lot less! Our financial future is in serious trouble and they pull nonsense like that!

  5. Kevin

    8 years ago

    Wow guys, do you not understand that they take an oath that limits their freedom of speech? It is like signing a contract. They are bound to that chain of command. How terrible would it be to let the military do whatever they wanted from the ground up? They can say anything they want after they are done. Wouldn’t you get in trouble for being a huge jerk to your boss at work? The answer is yes. So yeah, guy’s gone and good riddance.

  6. John Ward

    7 years ago

    Yeah, we give up some free speech as warriors but this is a prime example of using a 12 pound sledgehammer when a jeweller’s hammer would suffice. He went way over the line but a less than honorable for saying this?? Surely in light of his otherwise honorable service & combat duty as well, a more appropriate punishment should have been handed down.

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