CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A Marine facing dismissal from the military for his Facebook comments went as far as posting superimposed images of President Barack Obama’s face on a donkey, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Prosecutor Capt. John Torresala said the behavior by Marine Sgt. Gary Stein repeatedly violated Pentagon policy limiting the free speech rights of service members. Stein’s security clearance was taken away and he has no future in the Marine Corps because he can’t do his job without that clearance, Torresala said.
The government submitted screen grabs of Stein’s postings on one Facebook page he created called Armed Forces Tea Party, which the prosecutor said included the image of the “jackass,” and another page used by Marines such as Stein who work as military meteorologists.
Defense attorney Marine Capt. James Baehr said during the hearing that prosecutors were trying to dredge up any damaging information they could against Stein. “There is no basis in this case,” Baehr said. “Sgt. Stein has broken no law.”
Stein said his statement about Obama was part of an online debate about NATO allowing U.S. troops to be tried for the Quran burnings in Afghanistan. In that context, he said, he was stating that he would not follow orders from the president if it involved detaining U.S. citizens, disarming them or doing anything else that he believes would violate their constitutional rights.
Printed on Friday, April 6, 2012 as: Free speech for military on trial after Marine lambastes Obama