Prosecutors say a California Marine facing discipline and possible discharge for criticizing President Obama on Facebook is coming up against a Pentagon policy that limits the free speech rights of service members.
According to prosecutors, Marine Sgt. Gary Stein posted Photoshopped images of Obama superimposed on the “Jackass” movie poster and a picture from “The Incredibles” renamed to “The Horribles.”
Prosecutors also say Stein sold “Nobama” bumper stickers and stated he would not follow unlawful orders from Obama.
The military policy against criticizing the commander in chief allegedly has existed in some form since the Civil War. Stein is accused of threatening good order and discipline with his Facebook comments.
It seems more believable that what Stein has really threatened is Obama’s own narcissism. This president has a notoriously thin skin. Probably goes along with being handed a kingdom he really didn’t earn.
This administration has been marked by its fervor in trying to control online information about the president. First, the Democratic National Committee dedicated scores of people to the task, then the White House itself took over the job, appointing Jesse Lee the “director of Progressive Media and Online Response.”
While big names like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are perpetual targets, even some small-time bloggers have felt heat from the White House hounds.
The staff devoted to manipulating Obama’s online image is considerable. If you ever want to test it, just try making a minor change to Obama’s Wikipedia entry. Nothing major is necessary; all it takes is rewording a sentence or two to reflect the reality of Obama’s deeds in office. The smart money says it will be changed back within five minutes, if your change hits the Web at all. If you are particularly talented, you may even find your Wikipedia privileges restricted. It’s kind of a fun party game.
In addition to paid staff, Obama has legions of zealous followers, many of them current or former journalists, who keep their long knives out to defend their hero Obama.
Sgt. Stein’s defense attorney says the sergeant has broken no law and the prosecution is just trying to dredge up whatever it can to make Stein look bad.
If he’s convicted, Stein could lose his rank and face a dishonorable discharge. He has already lost his security clearance and been reassigned to a job where he has no access to computers.
Ironically, as a Marine, Stein has been in a position of defending the rights of Americans, including free speech, and now he’s had his rights essentially stripped from him because of a president with no respect for the Constitution. A Marine can’t say anything bad about the president, but the feds will gladly drag a Marine’s name through the mud.
It smacks of Orwell’s Thought Police.
Reps. Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa have expressed support for Stein. Hunter said Stein should not be punished for expressing an opinion that is shared by many Marines.
Stein’s comments about not following orders came in an online discussion about NATO allowing U.S. troops to be prosecuted for Quran burnings in Afghanistan. Stein said he wouldn’t follow orders if he felt they violated U.S. citizens’ constitutional rights, such as arresting or disarming them unlawfully.
It’s hard to buy into the accusations that criticism of Obama on Facebook is a major threat to security or discipline.
Clearly, someone at the office of Progressive Media and Online Response has been working overtime to stroke the boss’s ego.