- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Marine still outspoken despite facing dismissal
SAN DIEGO (AP) - A Marine facing dismissal for running a Facebook page called Armed Forces Tea Party that criticizes the Obama administration is still speaking out but has been getting little support from military law experts and free speech advocates who say he may have crossed the line.
Sgt. Gary Stein planned to speak at a tea party meeting in San Diego County later Thursday, a day after the Marine Corps notified him that it is moving to dismiss him for violating the Pentagon’s policy barring troops from engaging in political activities.
The military has had a policy since the Civil War limiting the free speech of service members, including criticizing the commander in chief.
David Loy, of the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego County, said he has not followed Stein’s case closely, but that based on what he has seen in the media he thinks there may be a legitimate concern on the part of the Corps about Stein appearing to be speaking as a member of the armed forces because of his Facebook page’s name.
“The military has a very strong interest and appropriately so to remaining neutral,” he said. “The last thing we want is our military taking side on political issues.”
“He’s really rubbing the government’s nose in it,” he said. “It’s really hard to have sympathy for him.”
Stein said he is not swayed. He said he received hundreds of emails from service members and the public in support of him.
“They’re entitled to their opinions but I still think this is a freedom of speech issue,” Stein said. “I’m standing up for the Constitution.”
The Marine Corps said in a statement that it decided to take administrative action after Stein declared on Facebook that he would not follow unlawful orders from Obama. He later criticized the comments of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
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.
Stein said his statement about Obama 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.
Stein said in addition to being discharged, he would have his rank reduced to lance corporal if he is proven to be in violation. 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.
Stein was first cautioned by his superiors at Camp Pendleton 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.
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Obama engages in Ukraine diplomacy from Fla. resort as Russia digs in
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
- EDITORIAL: Senate rejects Adegbile for Justice post
- Italy outraged over U.S. gun dealer's 'David' ad
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again