Marine who criticized Obama on Facebook should be dismissed: panel

SAN DIEGO Sat Apr 7, 2012 10:55am EDT

An illustration picture shows the log-on screen for the website Facebook, in Munich February 2, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

An illustration picture shows the log-on screen for the website Facebook, in Munich February 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Michael Dalder

Related Topics

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A Marine who posted on Facebook that he would not follow orders from President Barack Obama should be dismissed from the military with a less-than-honorable discharge, a Marine Corps review board ruled.

Gary Stein, 26, did not comment on the ruling issued late Thursday, one day after his lawyers unsuccessfully sought to delay the review board by seeking an injunction in federal court in San Diego.

The Marines' recommendation to administratively discharge Stein came after a 13-hour hearing and an hour of deliberation by the panel. It will be submitted to Brigadier General Daniel Yoo, the commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot, where Stein is stationed.

Yoo has not said what action he plans to take, if any. He is expected to make a decision within 30 days, according to Major Mike Armistead, a Marine Corps spokesman.

Any discharge from the military that is not honorable can mean the loss of benefits available to most U.S. military veterans.

Stein, who is a meteorologist at Camp Pendleton, served nearly nine years, including a tour of duty in Iraq. He was due to either re-enlist or end his enlistment at the end of July, according to court documents.

Stein had posted comments saying he would refuse to obey orders from the president, who is the commander-in-chief of the military, on a Facebook page called the Armed Forces Tea Party page.

He later removed the comments and said he meant only unlawful orders. In 2010, he got in similar trouble with the Marine Corps and was advised to post a disclaimer that the Armed Forces Tea Party is not affiliated with the Armed Forces.

He also posted comments to a Facebook network called METOC, which is limited to active duty meteorologists and oceanographers, where he described Obama as an enemy to America. Those comments were the basis for some of the allegations reviewed by the board.

Marines and all other military members swear an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States as well as to follow the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which restricts political activities while in uniform. Off-duty, out-of-uniform actions are far less restricted, but there are limits.

A coalition of attorneys support Stein, saying in a written statement that the First Amendment guarantees his freedom of speech.

(Editing by Greg McCune and Stacey Joyce)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (46)
Anthonykovic wrote:
Unless the military has good reason to believe this Marine was seriously planning harm or sedition, he should be left alone.
America is a free country, I think, where everyone is entitled to their opinions.
Is the US government and military trolling the internet spying on citizens’ Facebook pages? Shame ….

Apr 06, 2012 11:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
InMotion wrote:
Being free to express your opinion does not mean that there is no penalty – especially if you are speaking out against someone over you in your job – regardless of whether you are in the military or a civilian job.

Apr 06, 2012 11:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Marla wrote:
This young man is entitled to his opinions, just like everyone else. Unless his job performance warrants a discharge, I say leave him the heck alone!

Apr 07, 2012 5:12am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Pictures