US Marine Gary Stein faces dismissal for criticizing Obama on Facebook


President Barack Obama salutes a US Marine on the White House lawn, on March 30, 2012. The US president is the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces.


Alex Wong

A disciplinary board has recommended that a US Marine who criticized President Barack Obama on Facebook should be dismissed.

The three-member panel advised that Sgt. Gary Stein should receive an "other than honorable" discharge after an all-day hearing at Camp Pendleton yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Stein is accused of undermining "good order and discipline" by posting comments critical of the commander-in-chief on a number of Facebook pages. According to the LA Times, he called Obama a coward and an enemy and urged people to vote against him in this year's election.

And he stated he would not follow orders from the president if he considered them "unlawful." 

Military prosecutors said Stein also posted pictures of movie posters altered to feature the president's face, including one for Jackass and another for The Incredibles which he changed to read "The Horribles," the Associated Press reported.

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Under US military law, uniformed personnel are forbidden from talking "contemptuously" of their superiors, or from speaking publicly for or against a political candidate or cause.

Prosecutors said Stein had repeatedly ignored warnings from senior officers that his Facebook activity could breach those rules. 

In his defense, Stein's lawyers argued he had a constitutional right to free speech. The marine said he had presented his opinions as his own, not those of the US military, and therefore had not violated Pentagon policy, which his attorneys describe as "vague."

A Marine Corps general will now decide whether to follow the board's recommendations. If they are accepted, the AP said, Stein will lose his benefits and be barred from any military base.

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