By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times –
SAN DIEGO — The Marine Corps is moving to boot out a Marine for having made “political statements” about the commander-in-chief on a Facebook page.
Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, a nine-year veteran, put comments on a Facebook page called the Armed Forces Tea Party page that said he would not follow unlawful orders from President Barack Obama such as ordering the killing of Americans or taking guns away from Americans. He also criticized comments made by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about Syria.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits uniformed personnel from making comments critical of their chain of command, including the commander-in-chief, or engaging in political activity in a context that suggests that are acting as military members.
An investigation into Stein’s comments was ordered March 8 by the commanding officer of the weapons and field training battalion at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. On Wednesday, the Marine Corps announced that rather than file charges against Stein, the matter is being handled “through administrative action.”
Stein, who hoped to re-enlist, told the Associated Press that he plans to fight the Marine Corps’ intention to dismiss him.
“I’m completely shocked that this is happening,” he told the AP. “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, a weather specialist, had come to the attention of his superiors two years ago for using the Internet to criticize Obama’s health care proposal. At that time, he offered to take down the comments.
His most recent postings came during a Facebook discussion about events in Afghanistan. In one posting, he said he believes that military personnel should be allowed to express their political opinions because they are required to risk their lives to advance political objectives.