When I enlisted in the United States Air Force years ago, I was never told that when I put on the uniform that I was giving up my constitutional rights as a citizen of the United States. Evidently, that must be the case these days as one marine is finding out.
Sergeant Gary Stein is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton, California where he works as a weather forecaster. In 2010, he launched a Facebook page titled Armed Forces Tea Party. He operated the Facebook page when he was off duty and believed it was okay to express his personal political views on the page. Armed Forces Tea Party has been very popular since its launch in 2010 with around 18,000 followers.
However, Stein’s commanding officer received a report that Stein had posted statements that were critical of President Obama and immediately launched an investigation. After the initial investigation was made, the commanding officer decided that Stein had violated military policy and initiated formal administrative action against the sergeant.
According to a Marine spokesman, Stein is being accused of violating Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice along with a Defense Department directive that states members of the military may,
“Register, vote, and express a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces.”
The complaint against him stems from a post he made via his personal Facebook page that said something to the extent that he would not follow any orders given him by Obama. Only a few minutes after making the post, he realized how the wording could have been taken wrong so he added the comment that he was referring to any unlawful orders given him by Obama. The comment has since been deleted, but not before word of it got back to Stein’s commanding officer.
Stein says he has done nothing wrong by expressing his opinion on his own time while not in uniform and that the Marines have taken his one comment out of context in an effort to end his nine years of service to his country. He feels that he has the right to the freedom of speech while off duty and that the Marine Corp is violating his First Amendment rights stating,
“Whatever happened to freedom of speech? There is not a document in this world that trumps the United States Constitution. … To say that the UCMJ somehow trumps the First Amendment is completely inaccurate.”
The notice that Stein received from the Marine Corp states that they are in the administrative process of discharging him from the Corp under “other than honorable” status. He may also be faced with having to pay back $45,000 in education fees and bonus money.
Sgt Stein says that when his hearing takes place that he will do his best to educate the review panel on the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He also said that he had planned to re-enlist in July when his current tour of duty was up, adding,
“I love the Marine Corps and the Marines I work with. … I love America and I want nothing more to do than to serve my country. That means protecting the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.”
The question one has to ask is what is the real reason Stein is being less than honorably discharged from the Marine Corp? Did he actually violate the military code of conduct or was it because he posted something negative about President Obama? If his Facebook page was against Defense Department regulations for appearing to represent the military, then why was nothing done in the past two years until just after his personal post about Obama? The timing is just too coincidental to be a simple violation of military code. Rather it reeks of political pressure to shut up one more person who chose to openly criticize King Barack the Last!