By Jack Minor
The Marine Corps Times is reporting that Barack Obama has more than one sergeant who is critical of his performance as commander-in-chief.
The report from the Marine newspaper comes just as the corps is trying to dismiss Sgt. Gary Stein for making unflaterring comments about Obama on a personal Facebook page.
It was in a March 26 article called “Anti-Obama Marines that the paper reported, “Stein is not alone in his disdain for the president. Published in early March, the most recent Military Times survey of active-duty service members shows the lowest approval ratings for Obama’s job as commander in chief since he took office in 2009: 25 percent, down from 35 after Obama’s first year on the job. And rank-and-file Marines are hearing considerably more anti-Obama talk on the job than they noticed in the past.”
The report noted this year’s Military Times poll revealed that 44 percent of respondents disapproved of the way Obama is handling his job as commander in chief.
Last week a Marine Corps administrative board recommended that Stein be given an other-than-honorable discharge after receiving a complaint over statements posted on his personal Armed Forces tea party page. The discharge would prevent Stein from receiving any benefits for his nine years of service.
However, if the Marine Corps did not want Stein to remain in the Corps, there is another option available that would have avoided all of the publicity. Stein’s enlistment is up in July, and if they chose to do so, Marine Corps officials simply could have him wait out his enlistment for the next few months and give him an honorable or general discharge.
Instead, taking the lengthy legal steps to discharge him has caused a retired JAG officer to question the reasoning for the discharge under these circumstances.
Lt. Col. John Eidsmoe, a retired Air Force officer who works for former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore at the Foundation for Moral Law, said, “It is obvious that someone higher up wants to bring the military into line.”
The statement echoes that of Stein’s attorney Gary Kreep with the United States Justice Foundation.
“I don’t think the Marine Corps has any intention of treating him fairly in any appeal,” he said. “It’s my opinion, but I believe Obama sent orders down from above to get rid of this guy.”
One of the complaints is that Stein published statements that he would not obey illegal orders issued by Obama. Stein testified the statement was in reference to a discussion about letting U.S. troops be put on trial for the Quran burnings in Afghanistan.
WND reported that the Afghan government issued a statement saying NATO had agreed to put the soldiers on trial. When asked if the U.S. would commit to ensuring the soldiers would not face trial in an Afghan court a Pentagon spokesman said, “No. The only commitment we have made is that we will take any appropriate disciplinary action deemed necessary by the investigation.”
Eidsmoe said there was a time when such a statement would have been praised.
“In my active duty days if I had said ‘If I was given an order to gas Jews, I would obey it without question’ I would have been kicked out for that statement.”
Marine lawyers argued that Stein should be kicked out of the corps for comments critical of Obama saying they were “prejudicial to good order and discipline.”
One of the comments noted by Marine lawyers called Obama “the domestic and religious enemy.”
“This is what he’s putting out to the public, and he’s a sergeant of Marines, on active duty,” Capt. John Torresala, representing Stein’s commander said. “How can this not be prejudicial to good order and discipline?”
However, according to a Marine Corps training manual on the subject, Stein does not appear to have done anything wrong with his postings.
In “The Social Corps,” a 48-page manual instructing Marines in the use of social media, it says Stein has a perfect right to speak out on any political issue or candidate.
On page 12 it says, “The Marine Corps encourages Marines to carry out their obligations as citizens. This includes politics. However, there are limitations to your political activity. You can express your political views on public issues or political candidates online, but not as part of an organized communication campaign.”
The manual also says any comments a Marine posts are considered an unofficial Internet post and that when expressing personal opinions Marines “must make clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the Marine Corps.”
Stein fulfilled this requirement by clearly posting a statement on the page saying, “We do not represent, and are in no way affiliated with the military, or the United States Armed Forces.”
Additionally, despite Torresala’s comments at no time did Stein post any pictures of himself in uniform.
The Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 which deals with social media postings also appears to support Stein’s right for the postings.
Among the list of acceptable activities for member of the armed forces are to “write a letter to the editor of a newspaper expressing the member’s personal views on public issues or political candidates as long as the purpose is not to solicit votes for or against a political party, cause or candidate.”
On Stein’s webpage there are no actual statements encouraging people to vote against Obama.
“From what I see so far hear, it doesn’t seem as if he is in violation of the regulation,” Eidsmoe said. “So long as he was out of uniform, his comments were not disrespectful, he did not disclose classified information and he made it plain he was not speaking for the Marine Corps, he was perfectly within his rights.”
Eidsmoe suggested that if it becomes evident that pressure was exerted from the administration to remove Stein for his comments it could be a violation of the Hatch Act which prohibits government officials in the executive branch from engaging in partisan political activity.
He said while discipline is a vital part of military culture, another key part is for leaders to not surround themselves with “yes men,” noting that Obama does not respond well to any criticism.
“We have to have discipline, but in our officer training we say ‘you want a subordinate officer who will tell you the truth, not what you want to hear.’ We don’t have that kind of commander-in-chief now.”