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Tea Party Marine's Troubles Raise Questions About Social Media Rules [Poll & Video]

Sgt. Gary Stein and his supporters believe rules for political speech are too vague, the North County Times reports. In addition, supporters believe Pentagon rules for social media postings are also not clear.

Sgt. Gary Stein, of Temecula, attended a hearing on base Thursday where officers and a senior noncommissioned officer will recommend to a general whether or not to discharge the Marine for saying on Facebook that he would not . 

The Marine, his legal team and supporters believe the Department of Defense's rules for freedom of speech are too vague, the North County Times reports. In addition, the rules for posting on social media sites are too vague, some of his supporters argued at a near the base.

The question of political speech in the military was brought up earlier this year when he attended in uniform.

The Department of Defense quickly reacted with a statement highlighting the rules on political speech in the military.

"Military members ... may attend political meetings or rallies only as spectators and not in uniform. They're not permitted to make public political speeches, serve in any official capacity in partisan groups or participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions. They also are barred from engaging in any political activities while in uniform."

DoD Directive 1344.10, “Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces on Active Duty" doesn't mention Facebook specifically but does state that members of the military may not “publish or allow to be published partisan political articles, literature, or documents that they have signed, written, or approved that solicit votes for or against a partisan political party, candidate, issue, or cause.”

The Marine Corps Social Media Principles booklet doesn’t mention political speech, but does tell Marines to represent the Marine Corps with the “same journalistic excellence the Marine Corps instills in its communicators and public affairs professionals.”

PDFs of the directive and Marine Corps’ social media guide accompany this article.

Do you think the Pentagon has clearly defined the limits of political speech service members can express on social media sites? Vote in the poll and tell us in the comments.  

TVOR April 07, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I believe it is because the leadership realizes it is a case of a guy who simply screwed up. They choose an administrative separation because they don't want to ruin this guy's entire life over his inability to follow these particular rules. His separation is absolutely necessary for a number of reasons but it is not necessary to prosecute him and give him jail time. His actions did not (at least as far as we know) endanger any lives or incite any mutiny among the troops. His actions are inconsistent with continued service in the military and so he will be discharged. I am sure the marine corps wants this to be behind them as much as Mr Stein does.
David B Secor April 07, 2012 at 07:52 PM
My opponent and our Congressman, Duncan Hunter, who himself is a former Marine artillery officer, incredibly defended Stein's behavior. Hunter has also defended troops urinating on corpses, burning holy books in Afghanistan, and said he would use his position as our Congressman to try to make the investigation into the Haditha massacre of unarmed civilians go away. I was not a Marine officer, but I was an enlisted man with the 1st Air Cavalry Division in I Corps, Vietnam in 1968. It would seem to me that a Marine officer, if anyone, would insist that sense of duty, morale, discipline, professionalism, unit cohesion,focus on mission are absolutely necessary for success and survival, and further, are hallmarks of the Marine Corps. If your employee,Mr. Hunter, shows up at the candidates town hall meeting at the Ramona Library Wednesday evening at 6pm, you can ask him. In this live format, voters can ask unfiltered questions of the candidates on any issue. Candidate appearance by telephone will not be accepted. Even if you don't want to ask questions, it will be very informative. You can meet the candidates who have not received enough bribes to put on a high profile campaign. There are - Tea Party, Libertarian and (un-endorsed by the party machine) Democratic candidates with a wide spectrum of political positions that you need to know more about. YOU HAVE REAL CHOICES in whom to support. I hope you will attend.
Daniel Woolfolk April 07, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Hi David. I don't see that event in Ramona's calendar. If you create an event listing on our Patch, I can make sure to cross post to Ramona, feature it on our site and send it out to our readers on Facebook and Twitter. http://camppendleton.patch.com/events/new
David B Secor April 07, 2012 at 10:51 PM
It's done, Daniel. And thanks for passing it on. We will try to get as many live town halls as possible throughout the district before the open primary on June 5. We candidates and the voters appreciate Patch's commitment to a vibrant democracy. That's what makes our nation great!
Daniel Woolfolk April 10, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Thanks David, I added it and featured it on the home page.

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