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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Marine discharged for criticizing Obama on Facebook

Former US Marine Corps Sgt. Gary Stein (file photo)
Former US Marine Corps Sgt. Gary Stein (file photo)
A US Marine sergeant has been discharged from the Marine Corps after criticizing President Barack Obama on the social networking website, Facebook.

The Corps said on Wednesday that Sgt. Gary Stein would be subjected to an other-than-honourable discharge for violating a Pentagon policy that limits the military service members’ freedom of speech.

The Corps pointed out that the type of discharge applies to a Marine, who commits a "serious offense" that significantly differs from the conduct expected of him or her.

The punishment means that Stein, a nine-year-long member of the Corps, will lose all military benefits.

The San Diego-area Marine started a Facebook group, called "Armed Forces Tea Party," in 2010. He called Obama a liar in a January 26 post and, two days later, said the president was "the 'Domestic Enemy' our oath speaks about."

Stein has said he was exercising his constitutional right to freedom of speech. He had included a disclaimer on Facebook, saying the comments were his own opinions.

"The allegations drummed up against me are no more than an agenda by the Marine Corps to use me as an example," Stein previously said in a statement posted on his page.

At military hearing earlier this month, a military disciplinary board recommended Stein's dismissal from the Corps. Prosecutors said he had repeatedly ignored warnings from superior officers, and that the postings were in breach of military regulations.

The Defense Department-imposed has been applying the limit to the freedom of speech since the Civil War. Among the prohibitions entailed by the restriction is criticism of the commander-in-chief.


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