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Marine discharged for Obama Facebook criticism

By 문예빈

Published : April 27, 2012 - 09:29

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A sergeant will be discharged for criticizing President Barack Obama on Facebook in a case that called into question the Pentagon’s policies about social media and its limits on the speech of active duty military personnel, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.

Sgt. Gary Stein will get an other-than-honorable discharge and lose most of his benefits for violating the policies, the Corps said.

The San Diego-area Marine who has served nearly 10 years in the Corps said he was disappointed by the decision. He has argued that he was exercising his free-speech rights.

“I love the Marine Corps, I love my job. I wish it wouldn’t have gone this way. I’m having a hard time seeing how 15 words on Facebook could have ruined my nine-year career,’’ he told The Associated Press.

Gary Kreep, an attorney for Stein, said he would pursue administrative appeals within the Marine Corps but anticipates the effort will be denied. He said he planned to file an amended complaint in federal court.

“As long as he wants to pursue this, we will be supporting him,’’ said Kreep, who is executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, an advocacy group.

The Marines acted after saying Stein stated March 1 on a Facebook page used by Marine meterologists, “Screw Obama and I will not follow all orders from him.’’ Stein later clarified that statement saying he would not follow unlawful orders.

During a hearing, a military prosecutor submitted screen grabs of Stein’s postings on one Facebook page he created called Armed Forces Tea Party _ a reference to the conservative Tea Party movement _ which the prosecutor said included the image of Obama on a “Jackass’’ movie poster. Stein also superimposed Obama’s image on a poster for “The Incredibles’’ movie that he changed to “The Horribles,’’ military prosecutor Capt. John Torresala said.

Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo, the commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, gave no explanation for the decision in a brief statement.

At the hearing this month at Camp Pendleton, Torresala argued that Stein’s behavior repeatedly violated Pentagon policy and should be dismissed after he ignored warnings from his superiors about his postings.

A federal judge previously denied a request to block military discharge proceedings against Stein. (AP)

<관련 한글 기사>

해병대원, 페이스북에 오바마 ‘잭애스’라더니…
대통령 비난한 해병대원 불명예 제대

페이스북 등을 통해 버락 오바마 대통령을 비난한 미국 해병대 병사가 불명예 제대를 하게 됐다.

미국 해병대 서부지구 인사 사령관 대니얼 유 준장은 해병대 징계위원회가 상신한 게리 스타인 병장에 대한 불명예 제대 징계를 25일(현지시간) 승인했다.

불명예 제대는 군이 형사 처벌을 제외하고 내릴 수 있는 가장 수위 높은 징계다.

불명예 징계를 받으면 계급은 일등병으로 강등되고 연금 등 퇴역 군인에게 주는 모든 혜택도 박탈된다.

스타인 병장은 ‘군(軍) 티 파티’라는 페이스북 계정에 오바마 대통령의 사진을 영화 ‘잭애스(Jackass)’에 겹쳐 놓는 등 대통령을 노골적으로 비난해 징계위원회에 회부됐다.

미군은 남북전쟁 이후부터 군 통수권자에 대한 비난을 포함해 군인에 대해서는 표현의 자유를 제한하고 있다.

해병대는 지난 6일 스타인 병장에 대한 징계위원회를 열어 스타인 병장이 군법을 위반했다면서 불명예 제대 징계를 상신했다.

미군 징계위원회의 결정은 지휘관이 승인해야 효력을 발휘한다.