A Marine sergeant is facing possible dismissal after criticizing Obama on a Facebook page, according to the Associated Press. Gary Stein, a nine-year member of the Corps at Camp Pendleton in California, recently said that he would not follow the unlawful orders of the commander in chief.
Stein says he started a Facebook page called Armed Forces Tea Party to encourage fellow service members to exercise their free speech rights. His controversial statement, he says, was made in relation to an online discussion about U.S. troops being tried for the burning of Qurans in Afghanistan. Stein said that he would not follow the president's orders if doing so entailed detaining or disarming U.S. citizens — or doing anything else that he felt violated their constitutional rights.
The Marine Corps, which opened a preliminary inquiry on March 8, said that Stein is allowed to express his personal opinions as long as they do not give the impression that he is speaking in his official capacity as a Marine. The Pentagon prohibits military personnel in uniform from participating in political activities or discussions, such as on a TV or radio show. Commissioned officers also cannot use disparaging or disrespectful words toward senior officials, including the president.
"After reviewing the findings of the preliminary inquiry, Stein's commanding officer decided to address the allegations through administrative action," the Corps said in a statement.
Stein's rank could be reduced to lance corporal if he is proved to be in violation of the rules. He has also been removed from his job at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot and given a desk job with no access to computers.
"I'm completely shocked that this is happening," Stein said. "I've done nothing wrong. I've only stated what our oath states, that I will defend the Constitution and that I will not follow unlawful orders. If that's a crime, what is America coming to?" Stein, who said he respects the office of the president but doesn't agree with Obama's policies, plans to fight the charges. He had applied to extend his service, which was due to end in a few months.
Read more at the Associated Press.