SAN DIEGO – A Camp Pendleton Marine has removed his Facebook page after his comments fueled a free-speech debate about whether troops are allowed to criticize President Barack Obama’s policies while serving in the military.
Sgt. Gary Stein said he was asked by his superiors to review the Pentagon’s directive on political activities after he criticized Obama’s health care reform efforts and then was asked this week to talk about his views on the MSNBC cable TV channel.
Stein said his supervisor told him of his right to an attorney about the matter. He said he decided to close his Facebook page and review his military code obligations. He also contacted private attorneys who told him he had done nothing wrong.
“There’s this illusion that when we sign our contract and voluntarily commit, that we lose our right to speak out,” Stein told the San Diego Union-Tribune in a story published Wednesday.
The local American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement Wednesday that it has sent a letter to Camp Pendleton’s commanding officer urging the Marine Corps to protect Stein’s right to freedom of speech.
Camp Pendleton spokeswoman Maj. Gabrielle Chapin said the Marine Corps is not considering filing charges and simply wanted him to be aware of the rules so he did not break them.