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Judge refuses to delay Marine's dismissal

A federal judge in California has declined to intervene at this point in Marine Corps plans to dismiss a sergeant who posted statements critical of Barack Obama on his personal social media page.

Sgt. Gary Stein’s status has been in the courts and in Marine Corps’ hearings for the last few weeks since he posted on his Facebook page a statement that he would not follow illegal orders.

Gary Kreep, executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, which has been defending Stein, told WND this afternoon U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff again decided not to intervene, instead leaving the proceedings up to the Marines.

The hearing was held on a request by Stein’s attorneys for the judge’s intervention. They filed documents explaining that the Marine Corps hearing failed to follow procedure and failed to protect Stein’s rights.

The newest documents reveal that the Marine hearing ignored testimony from a former staff judge advocate for the commandant of the Marines, a retired brigadier general, stating there was no basis for discharging Stein.

Brig. Gen. David Brahms said in a written statement: “I do not believe that … the behavior in question violates the cited UCMJ provision.”

The statement was among filings presented to Huff asking her to stop the Marine Corps from fast-tracking a discharge of Stein.

The filings also cited other procedural improprieties committed by the separations board that made the recommendation.

The Marine Corps convened a separations board after receiving complaints regarding postings Stein had made on his personal Facebook page that were critical of Obama and his policies. The Marine Corps had recommended that Stein be given the discharge under other than honorable conditions, which would cause him to lose all of his benefits.

On April 4, the day before the separation hearing, the court refused to issue a temporary restraining order stopping the proceedings. The court explained it expected the board would hear and fully consider all matters that Stein would present in his defense, consistent with due process.

Following the hearing, the court again declined to issue the temporary restraining order would have prevented the Marine Corps from going ahead with Stein’s discharge.

Kreep said among the other problems is the fact that one of the prosecution witnesses has “obscene political comments” on his own Facebook page, yet he has not been disciplined.

He said a Marine officer who reportedly was to be a neutral adviser at a disciplinary hearing took on the role of the prosecution.

The hearing also rejected a statement from Brahms, who has been a Marine for over 50 years, with 49 of them as a lawyer. In Brahm’s statement he notes that Department of Defense directive 1344.10, which Stein is accused of violating, is difficult to understand.

“My reading of it indicates it is confusing and quite unhelpful. It is also inherently contradictory,” Brahms said. “If I cannot understand 1344.10 as a 74-year-old retired brigadier general and staff judge advocate to the Commandant of the Marines, there is little hope that a sergeant would understand.”

He also challenged the prosecution’s position that Stein represented the Marine Corps with his postings.

“There is nothing in the circumstances to suggest any influence or reasonable possibility of influence that the public would believe these blatherings were official policy or officially sanctioned. They were only the discussions of a Marine concerned about the direction of this country. There simply is no criminal offense here.”

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a Marine veteran, wrote a letter to Stein’s commanding officer suggesting the sergeant should not face dismissal for an opinion shared by a majority of Marines.

Hunter said he was referencing Stein’s statement that he would not obey unlawful orders. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also supports Stein.

Stein testified that a statement that he would not obey unlawful orders from Obama was part of a discussion about letting U.S. troops be put on trial for the Quran burnings in Afghanistan.

He explained he was saying he would not follow orders if they included detaining U.S. citizens, disarming them or otherwise violating the Constitution.