Veteran US Marine Sergeant Gary Stein, 26, is facing dismissal after posting critical remarks on Facebook about President Barack Obama. A Marine Corps board held a hearing last week and recommended that Stein be discharged. Now, a final decision is due from a commanding general. If he doesn’t accept the board’s decision, the case will go to the Department of the Navy. Meanwhile, some politicians said that the scandal has proved once again, that we should revise the rules restricting freedom of speech among the military.
Prosecutors stated that Stein repeatedly criticised President Obama on Facebook and other websites. Stein, a Marine sergeant on active duty, ignored warnings made by his superiors, and he even founded a website called “Armed Forces Tea Party”, in support of the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement. During an online discussion in March about NATO allowing the court-martial of US troops for Koran burnings in Afghanistan, Stein said that he wouldn’t follow any order from the president that involved detaining US citizens or anything else he thought would violate their constitutional rights. After that, Stein’s commanding officer notified him that he was up for administrative disciplinary measures because of alleged misconduct.
On the one hand, there’s nothing unusual about a Marine Corps Board recommending a “less than honourable” discharge for Stein, for President Obama’s the commander-in-chief of the US armed forces, and, thus, one can’t view a sergeant’s refusal to follow orders in any other way but as a violation of military discipline. On the other hand, there’s a tradition in the USA, rooted in the times of the American Civil War, when freedom of speech in the military was severely restricted. A Pentagon regulation prohibits service members from certain political activities. From this point of view, Stein’s attempt to explain that he’d advocated not the disobedience of all of Obama’s orders, but only those violating the constitutional rights of Americans, will hardly be taken into consideration by the board. However, Stein’s lawyers said that such regulations, as well as the allegations faced by the sergeant, violate his right to freedom of speech.
Stein has many supporters, including Republican Duncan Hunter, who urged the Pentagon not to discharge Stein, adding that the military should update its policies to reflect “the changing dynamics of social communication”. The fact that a Republican politician commented on the issue didn’t surprise anybody. Nevertheless, obviously, the Stein case raised some very important issues about the correlation between military regulations and contemporary realities. Meanwhile, Stein, a hero for some, a criminal to others, awaits the final decision in his case.
9 April 2012
Voice of Russia World Service
Let’s keep this simple. Stein stated, in public, without equivocation, that he’d disobey orders coming from POTUS. Nothing else matters in the least. Stein’s CO tried to get him to see reason and withdraw his statement. Stein, being a dumb-ass hard-ass, refused to do so. No one, from general or admiral to lowest recruit, can make a public statement beforehand that they’d disobey an order that they judge “unfit” or “unlawful”… especially not orders coming from the highest level. It’s against all principles of good military discipline. Its one thing to disobey an unlawful order in the field… one still faces a court-martial to “stand and deliver” (there ARE illegal orders, but there’s a “chain of command” to consider, and the effect on discipline and cohesion in general). It’s quite another to state, coldly, without provocation, beforehand, that one would disobey orders from POTUS. That’s insubordination of the grossest sort, and Stein will be lucky to end up with a DD.
I know… I served. We should hang this jabronie from the tallest tree for his endangerment of his fellow grunts. Reflect well that the foremost GOP slimer of them all, Darrell Issa, defends this self-centred and disobedient POS. Duncan Hunter is a former USMC officer… he should know better. He shit on his honour and on that of the Corps for defending this insubordinate SOB. I believe that if a soldier had openly said that he’d disobey George W Bush‘s orders, I believe that he should’ve gotten the drop, too. Even if the orders were clearly criminal, even if they led to acts of aggressive war, as many of GWB‘s orders did, a soldier has NO right to publicly state that they’ll disobey orders. Insubordination is insubordination… and it tells you volumes about Duncan Hunter’s character to see him defend such disgraceful anti-military dishonour, merely because the loud-mouthed creep was a Hard Right Republican.