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UCMJ v. The Constitution

by coldwarrior ( 6 Comments › )
Filed under Headlines at April 6th, 2012 - 8:28 am

Sorry SGT, you are in violation of the UCMJ, dummy.

Thanks for playing, the Constitution does not apply to Military, even though they are charged with defending it.

(This is a horribly written article as well.)

Board seeks Marine’s dismissal in Facebook case

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — A military board has recommended dismissal for a Marine sergeant who criticized President Barack Obama on his Facebook page, including allegedly putting the president’s face on a “Jackass” movie poster.

The Marine Corps administrative board said after a daylong hearing late Thursday at Camp Pendleton that Sgt. Gary Stein has committed misconduct and should be dismissed.

The board also recommended that Stein be given an other-then-honorable discharge. That would mean Stein would lose his benefits and would not be allowed on any military base.

The board’s recommendations go to a general who will either accept or deny them. If the general disagrees with the board, the case could go to the secretary of the Navy.

Stein’s lawyers argued that the 9-year Marine, whose service was to end in four months, was expressing his personal views and exercising his First Amendment rights.

“We’re 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 attorney Marine Capt. James Baehr said.

Stein addressed board members during Thursday’s hearing, tell them he loved the Marine Corps and wanted to re-enlist, Baehr said.

Baehr expressed hope that the recommendation would be rejected by the general, saying the case will go forward. “The issues are too important for this to end today,” he said.

During the hearing, the prosecutor, Capt. John Torresala, said Stein went as far as superimposing images of Obama’s face on a poster for the movie “Jackass.”

Torresala argued that Stein’s behavior repeatedly violated Pentagon policy that limits the free speech rights of service members, and said he should be dismissed after ignoring warnings from his superiors about his postings.

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.

Torresala also 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.”

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.”

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.

Backed by a team of lawyers and congressmen, 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 views are protected by the First Amendment.

“Think about how dangerous this could be if the U.S. government can prosecute you for something you say on your private Facebook page,” Baehr said.

Stein has said his opinions are his own and has put a disclaimer on his Facebook page saying so. His attorneys argued service members have a right to voice their opinions as long as they do not appear to be presenting their views as being endorsed by the military. They say the Pentagon policy is vague and military officials do not understand it.

The Marine Corps has said it decided to take administrative action after Stein declared on Facebook that he would not follow orders from Obama and later clarified that statement saying he would not follow unlawful orders.

Stein said he was removed from his job at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego last month and given a desk job with no access to computers.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a former Marine, wrote a letter to Stein’s commanding officer stating the sergeant should not face dismissal for an opinion shared by a majority of Marines. Hunter said he was referring to Stein’s statement that he would not obey unlawful orders. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also expressed support for Stein.

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.

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We're not easily offended and don't want people to think they have to walk on eggshells around here (like at another place that shall remain nameless) but of course, there is a limit to everything.

Play nice!

6 Responses to “UCMJ v. The Constitution”
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  1. lobo91
    1 | April 6, 2012 8:51 am

    The Marine Corps has said it decided to take administrative action after Stein declared on Facebook that he would not follow orders from Obama

    That’s what got him into trouble.

    While I agree that it’s not the best-written article ever, it’s correct about the distinction between comissioned officers and everyone else. Enlisted personnel can say pretty much what they want about politicians, including the president, as long as they aren’t doing it in uniform and aren’t trying to influence their subordinates.

    Saying that you’re not going to obey the president’s orders crosses the line, though.


  2. coldwarrior
    2 | April 6, 2012 10:04 am

    Backed by a team of lawyers and congressmen, Stein has said he is fighting for his constitutional rights

    you have no constitutional rights.

    you are governed by ucmj.


  3. huckfunn
    3 | April 6, 2012 10:11 am

    coldwarrior wrote:

    Backed by a team of lawyers and congressmen, Stein has said he is fighting for his constitutional rights

    you have no constitutional rights.

    you are governed by ucmj.

    That’s how it was when I was in. However, given all of the PC stuff and Teh Geahy thingy, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there is a precedent case to the contrary. We used to call it the Uniform Toad of Military Toughness. :grin:


  4. lobo91
    4 | April 6, 2012 10:18 am

    @ coldwarrior:

    you have no constitutional rights.

    you are governed by ucmj.

    Sorry, but that’s not true.

    The UCMJ is part of Title 10 of the US Code. It’s just another section of federal law. Like any other federal law, it has to conform to the Constitution.

    There are some restrictions on how military personnel can exercise some of their rights, but the Constitution does apply to them.


  5. coldwarrior
    5 | April 6, 2012 11:37 am

    @ lobo91:

    to clarify:

    ucmj precludes the constitution for members of the military in questions of law and ‘rights’.

    saw it first hand over and over again as an MP. the provost marshal and the prosecutors were quite clear on that.

    in areas of law not covered in ucmj, then refer to ‘civilian law’

    sgt x cant say things/do things that a civie can.


  6. 6 | April 9, 2012 8:35 pm

    coldwarrior wrote:

    @ lobo91:
    to clarify:
    ucmj precludes the constitution for members of the military in questions of law and ‘rights’.
    saw it first hand over and over again as an MP. the provost marshal and the prosecutors were quite clear on that.
    in areas of law not covered in ucmj, then refer to ‘civilian law’
    sgt x cant say things/do things that a civie can.

    You are correct CW (several times sitting on CM Boards)where this young man crossed the line was pre-judgment of the status of orders.

    Yes, the UCMJ says that you have a duty to disobey an unlawful order, you first have to wait that that order is given.

    Once he stated that he would refuse to obey a CLASS of orders in advance he did indeed cross the line!


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