Following a special hearing at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the board ruled that the marine should be given an other-than-honorable discharge, stripping him of benefits.
If the ruling passes, Stein will also be banned from any U.S. military base.
Stein’s lawyers insist that their client, who superimposed images of President Obama’s face on a poster for the movie “Jackass“, was merely exercising his right to free speech.
“We are 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,” said Stein’s defense lawyer marine Captain James Baehr.
Baehr emphasized that Stein had, in fact, not broken any existing laws.
However, prosecutor Captain John Torresala told the panel that Stein had repeatedly violated Pentagon policies which limit the free speech rights of service members. He said Stein should be dismissed after ignoring a warning from his superiors about his Facebook activities.
According to Torresala, the marine’s improper anti-Obama Facebook comments and postings could have influenced junior marines.
On his “Armed Forces Tea Party” Facebook page, Sgt. Gary Stein also superimposed Obama’s face onto a movie poster for the movie “The Incredibles“, renaming it “The Horribles”. The Marine Corps board decided to take action after Stein declared on Facebook that he would not follow any unlawful orders from Obama.
Sgt. Stein insists that all Facebook views were his own and not those of the military. He has also put a disclaimer on his Facebook page.
Until a final decision has been reached, Stein has been moved from his job at the marine recruiting depot in San Diego to a desk job with no computer access.
Pentagon policies limit the military’s freedom of speech, which includes criticizing the president.
Military personnel are prohibited from setting up a political club and must refrain from supporting any political party or candidate on TV or at any public event. Commissioned officers are also banned from using contemptuous words against senior officials.
- Board: Marine Should Be Dismissed for Obama Posts (foxnews.com)
- Military board: Marine should be dismissed (news.yahoo.com)
- Military board says Marine should be dismissed (newsok.com)