Last Updated:November 25 @ 06:33 pm

Marine critical of Obama faces charge

By Julie Watson

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The Marine Corps on Wednesday notified a sergeant who has been openly critical of President Barack Obama that he is violating Pentagon policy barring troops from political activities and that he faces dismissal.

Camp Pendleton Marine Sgt. Gary Stein started a Facebook page called Armed Forces Tea Party to encourage fellow service members to exercise their free speech rights. He declared a few weeks ago that he would not follow the unlawful orders of the commander in chief. Stein also criticized Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for his comments on Syria.

Stein, a nine-year member of the Corps, said he did nothing wrong and planned to fight the charges. He had applied to extend his service, which was set to expire in a few months.

"I'm completely shocked that this is happening," he said. "I've done nothing wrong. I've only stated what our oath states that I will defend the constitution and that I will not follow unlawful orders. If that's a crime, what is America coming to?"

The Marine Corps said in a statement Wednesday that Stein's commanding officer ordered a preliminary inquiry on March 8 after receiving allegations that Stein posted political statements about Obama on Facebook in violation of the Pentagon's directives.

"After reviewing the findings of the preliminary inquiry, the commander decided to address the allegations through administrative action," the Corps said.

Stein said in addition to being discharged, he would have his rank reduced to lance corporal if he is proven to be in violation of the rules. He said he was removed from his job at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego on Wednesday and given a desk job with no access to computers.

According to Pentagon directives, 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, including the defense secretary or the president.

In January, an Army reservist wearing camouflaged fatigues got into trouble for taking the stage during a rally in Iowa with Republican presidential candidate and Texas congressman Ron Paul.

Stein was first cautioned by his superiors at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, in 2010, after he launched his Facebook page and criticized Obama's health care overhaul. Stein volunteered to take down the page while he reviewed the rules at the request of his superiors.

He said he determined he was not in violation and relaunched the page. Last week, he said his superiors told him he could not use social media sites on government computers after he posted the message stating he would not follow unlawful orders of the president.

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.

In that context, he said, he was stating that he would not follow orders from the president if those orders included detaining U.S. citizens, disarming them or doing anything else that he believes would violate their constitutional rights.

Another Marine alerted his command about the statement, Stein said.

Stein said he respects the office of the president, but he does not agree with Obama's policies. He said he is within his rights to speak up.

The Marine Corps said Stein is allowed to express his personal opinions as long as they do not give the impression he is speaking in his official capacity as a Marine.

Spokesman Maj. Michael Armistead said earlier this month that the Corps was taking a closer look to determine whether Stein had crossed that line.

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  1. linfComment by lin
    March 22, 2012 @ 7:11 am

    So where are the official actions against the service people who came out for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? Yeah, not going to hold my breath; no doubt the rules allow and encourage liberal speech.

    Only a hypocrite could support Gingrich while decrying the moral decay of our society.

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    • Bill from MiddletownComment by Bill from Middletown
      March 22, 2012 @ 8:51 am

      You should have left out the hypocrite comment. It ruined the whole thing.

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  2. Bill from MiddletownComment by Bill from Middletown
    March 22, 2012 @ 8:49 am

    Sgt. Gary Stein should be given a medal for having the courage to speak.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      March 22, 2012 @ 8:57 am

      But he had better watch his back Like Uriah failed to do with King David.

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  3. retiredmarinepilotComment by retiredmarinepilot
    March 22, 2012 @ 11:40 am

    This has always been Marine Corps policy, I’ve just never seen it enforced.

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    • davnkatzComment by davnkatz
      March 22, 2012 @ 6:13 pm

      Not JUST Marine Corps policy, but UCMJ policy. It is also a legal precedent. UNLESS YOU PRIMARILY LIST A DISCLAIMER, wearing the uniform – or any part of it – and using official title, such as U.S. Marine, U.s. Marine Corps, U.S. Army Master Sgt, etc, makes your action appear to be sanctioned “under color of law”.

      THAT is the legal objection and the Catch 22. The question by LIN above is spot on. Where was the official sanction against those people in uniform protesting “don’t ask, don’t tell”?

      In fact, that can be the SGT’s stongest defense. If the government, and military services in particular, did not sanction those who wore the uniform and cited military policy while advocating total acceptance of “gays” in the military, the lack of such response gave tacit approval for their behavior. Since they utilized official military equipment, uniforms, etc., in a politically active manner, then the SGT could only interpret an official change in military policy – although not published as such.

      The only remaining question is when the SGT used military computers – and when he was told to stop using them – and IF the military protestors (mentioned above) also used military computers – with or without permission.

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  4. Leslie JohnsonComment by Leslie Johnson
    March 22, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

    WHAT is Barack Obama trying to hide? WHAT is he afraid of? WHY doesn’t he just release these documents to prove that he is a natural-born citizen and, therefore, According to published reports, Barack Obama’s legal team has been paid over one million dollars, so far, to STOP anyone from seeing ANY of his actual identification documents, or many other documents:

    —Actual long-form birth certificate (NOT an easily-forged electronic copy of a short-form document that is not even officially accepted in Hawaii)
    —Passport files
    —University of Chicago Law School scholarly articles
    —Harvard Law Review articles
    —Harvard Law School records
    —Columbia University records
    —Columbia University senior thesis, “Soviet Nuclear Disarmament”
    —Occidental College records, including financial aid that he may have received
    —Punahou School records, where Mr. Obama attended from the fifth grade until he finished high school
    —Noelani Elementary School records, where Barack Obama attended kindergarten (according to the Hawaii Department of Education, students must submit a birth certificate to register — but parents may bring a passport or student visa if the child is from a foreign country)
    —Complete files and schedules of his years as an Illinois state senator from 1997to 2004
    —Obama’s client list from during his time in private practice with the Chicago law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Gallard
    —Illinois State Bar Association records 
    —Baptism records
    —Obama/Dunham marriage license
    —Obama/Dunham divorce documents
    —Soetoro/Dunham marriage license
    —Soetero/Dunham Adoption records

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    • Bill from MiddletownComment by Bill from Middletown
      March 23, 2012 @ 6:59 am

      Come on, stay on-topic, please!

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  5. cxComment by genesal
    March 22, 2012 @ 11:51 pm

    Actually, the Marine didn’t break any UCMJ regulations, initially. What he can be, in trouble for, is his continuation after being told to ‘cease and desist’.

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  6. Mark SellersComment by Mark Sellers
    March 23, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

    Mr.stein I commend you and anyone who stands against the current administration. Its a joke and a farce. Never before has the people of the United States had to watch their freedom of speech get thrown out the window and get abused the way this administration is doing to it now. Our rights are being stripped from us at a alarming rate and still people refuse to stand up for themselves. My brother was in Vietnam. My father WWll along with my uncle. I love our soldiers and our country but this so called president and first family make me sick. This whole administration is a slap in the face to any red blooded American that’s every lived. As the apology tour continues, our government continually turns its back on our soldiers. I mean this from the bottom of my heart from the so called president on down, love our country and soldiers or get the hell out of it

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