A military board recommended Thursday that a 26-year-old Marine be dismissed from service without an honorable discharge for criticizing President Barack Obama on Facebook, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The three-member Marine Corps administrative board at Camp Pendleton found that Sgt. Gary Stein had committed misconduct by posting anti-Obama comments on a Facebook page, calling the comments “contemptuous.”
Stein, a nine-year veteran, posted comments on Facebook calling Obama a coward and “the economic and religious enemy,” the Administrative Discharge Board was told. Stein urged the president’s defeat in the fall election, writing “screw Obama” and superimposed Obama’s face on a poster for the movie “Jackass.”
The board’s decision came after a daylong hearing. The final decision on Stein’s status will be made by the commanding general of the Marine Corp Recruit Depot San Diego.
Capt. John Torresala, the government prosecutor, argued that Stein’s behavior repeatedly violated Pentagon policy limiting the free speech rights of service members, and said he should be dismissed after ignoring warnings from his superiors about his postings, according to The Associated Press.
Torresala said that Stein’s anti-Obama comments posted on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists were not in line with good order and discipline, and could have influenced junior Marines.
Stein has said he is fighting for his constitutional rights and should be allowed to stay in the military. His lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union contend his statements were made while he was off-duty and that his views are protected by the First Amendment.
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