A Camp Pendleton Marine has relaunched his Facebook page criticizing President Obama’s health care policy after prompting a controversy over free speech that won him the support of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Sergeant Gary Stein took down his “Armed Forces Tea Party” page on Tuesday after he was called back to base.
Stein, 24, of Temecula, California said his superiors asked him to review Defense Department policy on political activities after they learned he was scheduled to give an interview to MSNBC about his Facebook page.
For some of you civilians out there, here’s a lesson in what active duty military can & cannot do PUBLIC political activism.
Bottom line, if you are in uniform, presenting yourself as a military member, you MAY NOT PUBLICLY advocate a political position, campaign for a candidate, etc. You may (with command permission) participate in public service events (Toys for Tots, ARC, things like that. But you better have approval from your commanding officer before you do so.)
When off duty and out of uniform, you can vote how you want, communicate to your elected reps, volunteer in a campaign (IN CIVILIAN ATTIRE). You MAY NOT do so while passing yourself off as military personnel. That implies a DOD/Govt sanctioned support. While in uniform/on duty, you are representing that military branch. You are expected to act accordingly.
The Pentagon’s directive states that military personnel are not allowed to write anything to solicit votes for a political cause, sponsor a political club or speak before any gathering that promotes a political movement. Sergeant Stein’s supervisor was concerned that his activities could give the appearance or impression that the Marine Corps is endorsing the group and its messages.
There are restrictions on time, place and manner. For instance, service members can’t go to political rallies in uniform. This kind of stuff is covered extensively in boot camp.
And let’s make it clear, when you sign on the dotted line and raise your hand for military service, your ass belongs to the US government! Whether the Commander In Chief is Obama or Bush, he’s your boss! It’s not a democracy in the armed forces! You follow orders! If this Marine was under my command, he’d be looking at an article 15 for insubordination!
The Marine is wrong and he should know better!