Marine who criticized Obama: Charges 'drummed up against me'
A Marine sergeant in the process of being discharged for making "political statements'' about President Obama said the allegations have been "drummed up against me" to keep other Marines from speaking out.
Gary Stein, 26, in a post on the Facebook page of the Armed Forces Tea Party, said he has always stayed within Department of Defense guidelines about free speech and never "spoken on behalf of the Marine Corps or in uniform."
"If I am guilty of anything," the post said, "it would be that I am American, a freedom loving Conservative, hell bent on defending the constitution and preserving America's greatness."
His superiors at the San Diego boot camp began an investigation March 8 after Stein posted comments saying he would not follow illegal orders from the commander-in-chief, such as killing Americans or taking away their guns. He also criticized the secretary of Defense.
Rather than file criminal charges against Stein, the Marine Corps has begun an administrative procedure, which Stein says is aimed at booting him out before his enlistment ends in July. He had hoped to reenlist.
Two years ago, Stein, a weather forecaster who served a tour in Iraq, started the Facebook page of the Armed Forces Tea Party.
"Now is the time we stand together as a Tea Party (and) put aside the smaller issues that divide us from within, in order to accomplish the greater good of defeating President Obama in 2012 and electing a conservative Senate that will help the GOP Candidate repeal Obamacare and address the nation's economic and spending challenges," Stein wrote in his recent post.
In the post, Stein asserts he is facing discharge "for simply expressing my right to free speech and stating I would not follow unlawful orders...Sounds crazy right?...It means that military do not rate the same basic rights that all other Americans do. I don't remember seeing that in the Constitution."
David Loy, legal director of the San Diego branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said he has exchanged messages with Stein, although the ACLU is not representing him.
While military members retain free-speech rights, Loy said, the military has a right to restrict such speech if it is done in a context that seems to imply the person is speaking as a member of the military.
"Context is everything," he said.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Gary Stein. Credit: Associated Press