The internet is abuzz with the story of a Marine in California who was recently asked to remove a Facebook group he created. Many people feel that the Marine’s First Amendment rights are being violated, and are even going so far as to claim that the Obama administration is attempting to silence the opposition.

You can read the articles as covered by Yahoo! and Fox News.

As a Marine currently serving in the Reserves, and active in local politics, this issue raised huge flags for me. I have authored several blogs promoting Republican candidates, am a member of the Republican Party, and have sponsored a Teenage Republican Chapter in my hometown. I have also expressed disagreement and outrage with the current administration. Could I be a potential violator of this directive?

In order to cover my six, I have researched the directive, how it applies to me, and how it applies to this case. DOD Directive 1344.10, dated February 19, 2008 Subject: Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, details what actions individual members of the Armed Forces CAN, and CANNOT engage in. You can read the directive HERE.

Sgt Stein made the mistake of naming the group “Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots.” By naming it so, he implies that the DOD sanctions it. By the rules, they have him dead to rights. In fact, if they so chose, he could be punished subject to the Universal Code of Military Justice under Article 92, “Failure to Obey Order or Regulation,” Chapter 47 of Reference (b).

Now, had he created a group called “Gary Stein and the Tea Party Patriots” or some such, and included a disclaimer that it reflects his opinions, and is not intended to reflect the views of the DOD, he would have been good to go, in my opinion.

We do indeed, have freedom of speech. We just have to be a but more cautious of how we wield it. You can find many a blog on my website that criticizes the current administration. However, I do have the disclaimer that the views portrayed are my own, and are not made as a representative of the USMC, the DOD, or any other agency. They are my beliefs, and mine alone.

When I attend political functions, campaign for a candidate, or work with the community, I do not do so in uniform. I won’t even wear a Marine sweatshirt. While my military service is often mentioned, I stress that I act in the capacity of a concerned citizen, NOT as a representative of the USMC.

I think I’m covered, but if the DOD or my chain of command wants to bring the matter up, I’m willing to defend my position. I would never want to use my uniform to gain political advantage. To do so would be, in my eyes, a discredit to all who have served before me.

I do, however, have a responsibility as a US citizen to be engaged in the political process. The leaders we elect have the power to make decisions that affect the lives of all of us. Those of us in the military are especially affected by the decisions of the POTUS. To sit back and not be involved seems a gross dereliction of my duty as a citizen, and as an NCO. I encourage everyone to get involved, regardless of their political party allegiance.

In closing, I’m glad this matter was brought up. Having read the Directive, I feel that I am acting completely within the guidelines of what the Secretary of Defense has laid out. I would encourage Sgt. Stein to continue to be involved in politics, and make his voice heard. I would just encourage him to do it within the rules laid out before us, and to do so in good taste.

In this case, I have to defend the actions of the Marine’s command. They made the right call, and handled the matter well. Sgt Stein was not punished, and only asked to remove the group from Facebook.

OK, I usually stick to real estate and business topics here, but I’m riled up and looking to vent, so please sit back and enjoy the ride. I’ve got some steam to burn off, so here we go.

Subject Number One: Susan Roesgen Deserves a Sound Flogging

BiasIf you don’t know who Susan Roesgen is, just google her. I’m sure she’s eating up all the publicity she is getting today. Susan is a “reporter” (and I use that term very, very loosely) for CNN who was assigned the task of reporting on one of the Tea Party events held yesterday across the nation. However, instead of being unbiased and reporting the news as it occurred, she decided to incite attendees, twist the story, and even yell at one of the men she “interviewed.” It was all quite disgusting, and you can watch the video here.

Subject Number Two: The Left Wing Media is Still Serving Their Own Agenda

The way mainstream networks and CNN treated the Tea Party events yesterday is despicable. They either minimized the event, ignored it all together, or twisted the meaning and intent of the rallies to something sinister. What ever happened to just reporting the news? Would they have treated this the same way if it had been any other type of rally? Of course not.

TEA

Remember Cindy Sheehan? You couldn’t turn on your TV or radio, or open a newspaper without reading about her or some other Anti-War Protest. They weren’t blasted as “extremist” or “terrorists” in the newspapers. How about when a bunch of New Yorkers painted themselves red and laid in the streets of New York in protest of the war? Media coverage galore. I’m sick of it. Check out what Laura Ingraham and Bill O’Reilly had to say about it here.

Subject Number Three: DHS Secretary Napolitano, Shame on You

The Department of Homeland Security conducted an assessment that stated veterans returning from Iraq are highly susceptible to being recruited by “Right-Wing Extremist Groups” and should be watched. For those of you that haven’t read my profile, I am a Marine, and just returned from Iraq last fall. I spent a year of my life FIGHTING terrorism. My family went without their father and husband so I could defend freedom and liberty.

Now, this administration, comprised of people who KNOW NOTHING about the military OR intelligence, wants to label ME a potential threat? It’s enough to make me remember a bunch of those four letter words I try so hard to forget. It’s apalling and offensive. At least their is public outrage about it as evidenced by Fox News and The American Legion.

In fact the outrage was enough to provoke an apology from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. A very lame, carefully worded apology that left me with the distinct impression that she wasn’t really sorry at all. I’m not alone in thinking this.

“It wasn’t an apology in my view,” said Pete Hegseth, chairman of Vets for Freedom. “It was one of those non-apology apologies. She was sorry that veterans were offended. She should either apologize for the content of the report as it stands or they should rewrite the report and reissue it.”

The Secretary further went on to reference the Oklahoma City Bombing, and how Timothy McVeigh was prior military. Great, one nut in the tree means we must all be psycopaths, right? Irresponsible, ungrateful, and deplorable are a few of the nicer words that come to mind.

shame on you

In Closing

As I said in my intro, I am not prone to ranting on about current events. However, today’s news managed to pull Sgt. White’s string, and I couldn’t stay silent any longer. I think it’s a sad state of affairs when people with a valid and legitimate message are denied the opportunity to air it, and instead have aspersions cast upon them.

I furthermore think it is utterly unacceptable to demean or tarnish the sacrifices that my fellow service members have made for this country by making people think we are potential terrorists. No one values our country more than those willing to bleed for it.

Phew! Yes, I feel better. I’ll feel even better when this gets read a lot and passed around. Thanks for reading, and Semper Fidelis.

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