A lawsuit has been filed against two officers at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune Marine base for banning a civilian worker – a 25-year Marine whose son was a victim of the U.S.S. Cole attack – from publicly condemning Islamic terrorists.
One of the ‘offensive’ bumper stickers
The lawsuit was filed by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Jesse Nieto after base officials first ordered him to remove bumper stickers from his private vehicle then banned the vehicle from all federal installations nationwide.
In a statement e-mailed to WND, base spokesman Nat Fahy said the action against Nieto was pursued based on “third party complaints regarding the offensive nature of Mr. Nieto’s stickers.”
“After refusing his
supervisor’s informal request to remove the stickers, Mr. Nieto was issued
two separate motor vehicle citations. After being afforded an opportunity to
argue his position in front of the base magistrate, the magistrate told him
to remove the stickers from his car. While he did remove several offensive
stickers off during this period, he refused to remove all of the offending
stickers. Because he remained in violation of the base order, Mr. Nieto’s
DoD registration decal was ultimately removed from his vehicle.”
According to the lawsuit, Lt. Col. James Hessen, the base traffic court officer, ruled that the decals on Nieto’s vehicle were “offensive,” and when asked to explain, said, “‘It’s just what I think,’ or words to that effect,” the complaint states.
Lawyers for the Thomas More Law Center said Nieto served in the Marines for 25 years, including two combat tours in Vietnam. His youngest son, Marc, and 16 of Marc’s shipmates were killed Oct. 12, 2000, by Islamic terrorists who bombed the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen.
Nieto has worked as a civilian employee at Camp Lejeune since 1994. It was about 2001 when he started displaying various decals and bumper stickers on his vehicle “expressing anti-terrorist sentiments,” such as “Remember the Cole, 12 Oct 2000,” “Islam = Terrorism,” and “We Died, They Rejoiced,”
On July 31, he was ticketed on base by two military police officers for displaying “offensive material.”
Another “offensive” bumper stickers
The ticket was issued even though other automobile-mounted slogans such as a Confederate flag with, “If This Offends You … You Need a History Lesson,” a “Darwin fish” mocking Christianity, sexually explicit symbols such as silhouettes of nude women, one with “Your Child May be an Honor Student But Your Driving Sucks,” and several versions of a cartoon character (similar to Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes) urinating on various symbols were allowed, the lawsuit said.
In August, after Nieto refused to remove the “offending” decals, the base magistrate issued a written order that required him to take his vehicle off the base “until all decals were removed” and banning his vehicle from all federal installations nationwide.
The order, the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina said, now prevents Nieto from visiting Arlington National Cemetery, where his son is buried.
The case alleges the military is violating Nieto’s constitutional rights to freedom of speech and equal protection of the law.
“The banning of these decals is political correctness run amok in the military,” said Richard Thompson, president of the law center. “Our troops are being killed by Islamic terrorists, 9/11 was caused by Islamic terrorists, these terrorists want to destroy America, the Islamic countries persecute Christians and now the military is victimizing a father whose son was killed by Islamic terrorists while serving our nation.”
Thompson said the next move on the part of the Marines might be to “eliminate the Marine’s Hymn since the phrase ‘to the shores of Tripoli’ celebrates the Marine victory over Islamic forces in the Barbary Coast War and the Battle of Derne.”
The lawsuit alleges viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment, equal protection violations of the Fifth Amendment and claims there are no objective standards for guiding bumper sticker banishments.
Also named as a defendant is Col. Richard Flatau Jr., the base commander.
The case also alleges that Nieto was threatened with dismissal from his job for having the decals and not only cannot drive to work or visit his son’s grave in Arlington, he also cannot use his vehicle to visit the U.S.S. Cole Memorial in Norfolk, Va.
“During public addresses, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. armed forces, President George W. Bush, has used the terms ‘Islamic terrorists,’ ‘Islamic extremism,’ and ‘Islamic militants,’ noting that the Islamic terrorists responsible for killing Americans on September 11, 2001, are the ‘same murderers … responsible for bombing the U.S.S. Cole,’” the lawsuit said.
“The Commander-in-Chief has indicated that the United States will give no quarter to these terrorists, stating that ‘we must pursue them wherever they are’ and we ‘[w]ill not let up until our enemies are defeated and our people are secure,” the lawsuit said.
“Consequently, it is unreasonable to conclude that the words, terms, or political viewpoint expressed by the Commander-in-Chief or those expressed by Plaintiff are prohibited on federal installations in the United States, including military bases such as Camp Lejeune.”
The lawyer handling the case is Robert Muise, who also has been defending Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, the highest-ranking officer accused in the Rep. John Murtha-instigated prosecution of soldiers for a firefight with terrorists in Haditha, Iraq.