Marine Corps sergeant Gary Stein faces a possible discharge after starting a Facebook page openly condemning President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Stein, a nine-year member of the Corps, started the Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page to encourage service members to exercise their free speech rights, a direct violation of Pentagon policy that could lead to his dismissal.
I'm completely shocked that this is happening, Stein said to the Associated Press. 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?
According to the Armed Forces Tea Party Admin page, Stein believes in the core values of the Tea Party movement; fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets. The site sells 'NOBAMA 2012' bummer stickers with the caption Don't tread on me for $4.20.
If discharged, Stein's rank would be reduced to lance corporal and he would lose his job at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego.
Stein wrote in one Facebook posting that he would not follow the president's orders, if he felt an American citizen's rights were being violated.
A fellow Marine reported it and Stein's commanding officer ordered a preliminary inquiry on March 8.
Stein clarified his statement, saying it was part of an online debate on U.S. troops being tried for Quran burnings in Afghanistan, but Marine officials thought otherwise.
After reviewing the findings of the preliminary inquiry, the commander decided to address the allegations through administrative action, the Corps said to the Associated Press.
Stein was pulled from his Marine recruiting job and assigned to a desk job with no computer access.
I am facing an Administrative Discharge from the Marine Corps for simply expressing my right to free speech and stating I would not follow unlawful orders, Stein said in a statement on his Facebook page. Sounds crazy right? It means that military do not rate the same basic rights that all other Americans do. I don't remember reading that in the Constitution.
Military personnel in uniform are not allowed to sponsor a political club; participate in a television, radio, or group discussion for or against political candidates, causes or parties; or speak at political rallies, according to the New York Daily News.
Stein said he does not agree with Obama's policies but he still respects the office of the president. Marine Spokesman Maj. Michael Armistead told the Associated Press that Stein can express his personal opinions as long as it doesn't seem like he is speaking in his official capacity as a Marine.
Stein may have crossed that line with his Facebook postings.
This isn't the first time Stein has been reprimanded for his political views. In 2010 at Camp Pendleton he criticized Obamacare on his Facebook page. Stein was asked to take the posting down by his superiors -- which he did -- but he later relaunched the page because he didn't' think he violated Pentagon policy.
Stein said he did nothing wrong and plans to fight the charges. He also applied to extend his service that was set to expire in a few months, reported the Associated Press.
Again... What is so strange about saying we want President Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to reconstruct and reform this nation so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? We want the country to survive. We want the country to succeed, wrote Stein on a post on the AFTP Facebook page.
If I am guilty of anything it would be that I am American, a freedom loving Conservative, hell bent on defending the constitution and preserving Americas [sic] greatness, he said in a statement on the AFTP Facebook page.