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Prosecutor: Marine posted negative images of Obama
CAMP PENDLETON, CALIF. (AP) - A Marine facing dismissal from the military for his Facebook comments went as far as posting superimposed images of President Barack Obama’s face on a donkey, a prosecutor said Thursday.
The comments came at a military administrative hearing where Torresala described Stein as irresponsible and said he should be dismissed from the military after ignoring warnings from his superiors about his postings.
The government 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 the “jackass,” and another page used by Marines such as Stein who work as military meteorologists.
“The Marine Corps community views the command’s lack of action as some kind of knock on good order and discipline,” Torresala said. “Our own people are questioning why this Marine is not being held accountable.”
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.
Backed by a team of lawyers and congressmen, Stein has said he is fighting for his constitutional rights and should be allowed to stay in the military. His lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union contend his views are protected by the First Amendment.
Stein has said his opinions are his own and has put a disclaimer on his Facebook page stating that point. His attorneys argued service members have a right to voice their opinions as long as they do not appear to be presenting their views as being endorsed by the military. They say the Pentagon policy is vague and military officials do not understand it.
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