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Facebook posts leave US marine facing dismissal

Gary Stein criticised Barack Obama and pasted the president’s face onto unflattering posters.

Image: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

A US MARINE is facing dismissal from the military after posting unfavourable comments about President Barack Obama on Facebook.

Sergeant Gary Stein went as far as superimposing images of President Barack Obama’s face on a poster for the movie Jackass, a prosecutor said yesterday.

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 Obama on the Jackass movie poster.

Stein also superimposed Obama’s image on a poster for The Incredibles movie that he changed to The Horribles, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor, Captain John Torresala, said anti-Obama comments by Stein that were posted on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists were prejudicial to good order and discipline, and could have influenced junior Marines.

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 Marine Corps community views the command’s lack of action as some kind of knock on good order and discipline,” Torresala said. “Our own people are questioning why this Marine is not being held accountable.”

Stein’s defense attorney, Marine Captain James Baehr, said during the hearing that prosecutors were trying to dredge up any damaging information they could against Stein.

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“There is no basis in this case,” Baehr said. “Sgt Stein has broken no law.”

The military has had a policy since the Civil War limiting the free speech of service members, including criticism of the commander in chief.

Pentagon directives say military personnel in uniform cannot sponsor a political club; participate in any TV or radio program or group discussion that advocates for or against a political party, candidate or cause; or speak at any event promoting a political movement.

Commissioned officers also may not use contemptuous words against senior officials.

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