MEDIA ROOTS — Proving the power of social networking, online writing, and blogging, the U.S. military is pushing to dismiss U.S. Marine Sergeant Gary Stein with ‘other-than-honourable‘ discharge as well as banning the Marine from all U.S. military bases, in violation of his First Amendment rights, for dissing Obama on Facebook. Until the dismissal is finalised, Stein has been removed from his San Diego post as a recruiter and reassigned to a desk job without computer access.
RT — US marine Sgt. Gary Stein should be dismissed for criticizing President Barack Obama on his Facebook page: that is the verdict passed by a military board looking into Stein’s case.
Following a special hearing at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the corps board recommended that the marine is given the other-then-honorable discharge stripping him of benefits. If the ruling passes, Stein will also be banned from any US military base.
Stain’s lawyers insist that their client, who superimposed images of Obama’s face on a poster for the movie called “Jackass”, did nothing more than exercise his right to free speech.
“We are truly surprised and disappointed but it was an honor to fight for a hero like Sgt. Stein and every other marine’s right to speak freely,” Stein’s defense lawyer marine Captain James Baehr said, as quoted by the Associated Press news agency.
Baehr stressed that Stein had, in fact, not broken any existing law.
Both the American Civil Liberties Union and United States Justice Foundation, two groups of which Stein’s lawyers are members, claim that his First Amendment rights are being violated.
However, prosecutor Captain John Torresala told the panel that the nine-year marine had repeatedly violated Pentagon policies which limit the free speech rights of service members. He said that Stein should be dismissed after ignoring a warning from his superiors about his Facebook activities.
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