(Duncan D. Hunter (left), CNN screenshot photos)
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Sgt. Gary Stein has a friend in another Marine — and it's Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Calif.
Hunter, a reservist who deployed to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once, is not happy that Stein faces discharge from the Marine Corps over comments he made about President Obama on Facebook. He said the Corps needs to sit back and realize that Marines have opinions, too.
Stein is facing a hearing Saturday where an administrative separation board will make a recommendation regarding his possible dismissal from the Marine Corps.
"Every single Marine in his civilian clothes has said something political," Hunter said in an interview with Marine Corps Times. "If you want to admin sep every one of them, you'll lose about 70 percent of your force. From three-stars to PFCs, I've heard them talk that way."
Stein has criticized Obama publicly and on his Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page, citing his right to free speech. And Hunter said Stein's speech should be protected — especially if Stein was talking hypothetically about not following orders given by his commander in chief.
"If you say, ‘Hey, if we colonize the moon like Newt Gingrich wants us to do, I would get a purple house,' so what?" Hunter said. "It's a hypothetical conversation between friends."
Stein said he was referring to hypothetical unlawful orders when he wrote on Facebook that he wouldn't follow certain commands given by Obama. And Hunter said he doesn't know a single Marine who would follow an unlawful order. And running a Facebook page shouldn't get a Marine with a good work record get kicked out of the Corps - even with a name like Armed Forces Tea Party, he said.
"I don't think they should be doing anything," Hunter said about the Marine Corps' response. "From what I can see, he did his job, he sounds like a smart guy and he's done well for the Marine Corps. [Stein's] not sitting there in uniform saluting the flag while he's saying he won't follow certain orders — he was speaking as a private citizen."
Hunter, who has criticized Obama's foreign policy plans including in a recent http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/press-releases?ContentRecord_id=a9a90474-5d27-48c8-b749-a2adea255de5">letter to the president regarding nuclear warheads, said social media sites present new challenges to the military and that they need to talk about what using the sites mean for Marines, soldiers and sailors writing personal thoughts with their friends.
"I think they need to analyze it," he said. "The military works at a snail's pace — it'll probably take them 10 more years to catch up to the technology. But they need to determine what is appropriate — is social media protected speech?"
Stein maintains that he acted within the Corps' guidelines for his online speech.
The Marine Corps has a guide called http://www.marines.mil/usmc/Documents/SocialMedia/Marines-Social-Media-Handbook.pdf">"The Social Corps" that gives Marines tips on how to stay out of trouble online. No. 10 on the tip page is "Don't get political."