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Marine sergeant faces dismissal for criticizing President Obama

March 22, 2012 |  8:15 am

Stein A 26-year-old sergeant and Iraq veteran is in the process of being dismissed from the Marine Corps after making "political statements" about the commander-in-chief on Facebook.

Such comments are considered detrimental to "good order and discipline" under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Gary Stein, a nine-year veteran, put comments on the Armed Forces Tea Party page that said he would not follow unlawful orders from President Obama, such as killing Americans or taking guns away from Americans.

He also criticized comments made by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about Syria.

Stein had hoped to reenlist in the Marine Corps. Instead he appears headed for dismissal before the end of his enlistment in July. He may also be demoted.

Military law 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 they 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 is married and the father of a 4-year-old daughter, told the Associated Press he plans to fight the Marine Corps' intention to dismiss him.

"I'm completely shocked that this is happening," he said. "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 assigned to Camp Pendleton, had come to the attention of his superiors two years ago for using the Internet to criticize Obama's healthcare 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.

When Stein's comments became public and he gave several media interviews, he was disavowed by the Marine Corps.

"Statements made by Sgt. Gary Stein during recent media interviews are not supported or endorsed by the United States Marine Corps," said a statement issued from Marine headquarters.

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--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Sgt. Gary Stein. Credit: Associated Press

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