Sgt Gary Stein – Separation Hearing Other Than Honorable: What If…A Soldier is Directed to Violate His Oath

Sgt. Gary Stein was not directed to violate his Enlistment oath, but he has stated publicly that if ordered to do so, he would not. He clearly said he will not follow “unlawful orders.” For that statement, the Camp Pendelton Marine is facing a separation hearing, today,  and an “other than honorable’ discharge. See below remarks from retired Military about Sgt. Stein and the matter of respect and unlawful orders. Here’s the question, and I ask it completely removing this President from the conversation, removing Republicans and Democrats, and ask this about the future.

What if the President is an enemy of this Country and issues an unlawful order?

What if that order(s) flow(s) down the chain, and the unlawful order(s) comes to a soldier who refuses?

What if any Officer in the field issues an unlawful order to the soldier under him?

What if soldiers are ordered to disarm American citizens for the “safety” of the country, to avoid riots or civil disobedience?

What if…

Oath of Enlistment:

I (state your name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

The only possible answer is that the soldier(s) refuses and takes the consequences which will at least be a less than honorable discharge, which will come close to ruining the rest of the soldier’s working career. Or, the soldier can retire. Stein had already requested to re-up.

How will we know when tyranny begins?

Stein’s situation went to a civilian court, and a judge has refused to stop the separation hearing:

The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties, along with lawyers from the United States Justice Foundation and Oath Keepers, filed suit on behalf of Sgt. Gary Stein earlier in the week seeking to halt the hearing.

They argued that the U.S. military was violating his right to free speech as a private citizen.

“The military may be different from the civilian world, but it’s not exempt from the First Amendment,” David Loy, legal director for ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, said in a statement. “Sergeant Stein didn’t say anything for which the Marine Corps has any right to punish him. He did not threaten order or discipline or take positions that anyone would attribute to the Corps. Indeed, the Corps is threatening loyalty and morale by persecuting a good Marine for exercising his free speech rights.” Source: Daily Caller

From a previous post on Sgt. Stein I had a conversation with some retired Military in the comments section. I want to pass some of that on to you here:


Maggie, military members have never been allowed to criticize the President or SecDef publicly. We never criticize our superiors publicly. It’s one thing to do it among yourselves and another in public. It has nothing to do with political party.

When Bill Clinton first took office, he visited an aircraft carrier wearing a flight jacket. The Navy personnel on board ship laughed and mocked him. An order went out directing us not to mock the president if he visits your instillation. That was the first time in my career I ever heard of an order being given.

Many NCO’s and officers felt they couldn’t support Bill Clinton and got out of the military. I personally know two MSgt’s who tuned down promotion to Senior Master Sgt and got out rather than serve under Bill Clinton. USAF Chief of Staff, General Fogelman, retired when he felt he could no longer support President Clinton’s policies. That is the honorable thing to do.

Concerning our Oath of Enlistment. To support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Throughout most of my career, I asked the question, “who determines the domestic enemies.” I not only asked this of fellow NCO’s and officers but also at Professional Military Education Academies. Nobody had an answer for this and neither did I.

I recently spoke with a young Army E-4 who’s going to college to be a history teacher about this. I asked him if he would obey an order he personally believed was unconstitutional. His reply was “I don’t know, I guess I would trust my superiors to make that determination if it was lawful or not.”

How can our young enlisted force know for sure their superiors are making the right decisions when their superiors don’t know how to make the determination.

The main problem Maggie is that I would say, 98% of our military personnel have never read the Constitution of the United States. I was at the 16 year point in my career when I first read it. Although I swore an oath to defend it numerous times, the only reason I read it was because a copy was given to me and my supervisor had recently read it and was upset because of what it said and what was actually taking place in the country…this was during the late 80′s.

Geo: Maggie: Like Bob I also served a career in the Military [the Army]. Bob’s explanation [above] pretty much nails the issue regarding a Military Service members participation in Political Activity.

By DOD Directive and the UCMJ personnel are strictly prohibited from participating in political activity which “may” reflect on their position in the Military and what might be perceived as questioning the authority of their Superiors. This week one of the magazines [might have been Newsweek, I’ll check on it] [MarineTimes] has published an article on the dissension within the USMC Rank and File with the President. I believe it is spreading amongst most of the Branches.

This young man has taken a very public position questioning the Chain of Command [the President] and political positions that the Country faces today. It was inevitable that “some” discipline actions would be initiated against him for this and I expressed those concerns in your previous posts.

A “Lawful” order has always had a certain amount of intrigue that service members have questioned, where the lines are drawn. During my career it was never satisfactorily resolved in my opinion and when asked about it, I never could given a definitive answer. Back when Clinton was elected several of my fellow Senior NCO’s and myself felt we could not question his authority, yet couldn’t follow his orders and decided to retire.

General Jack Keane who worked with General Petraeus on the Counter Insurgency rewrite for Iraq has already suggested to Petraeus [before the move to CIA] that it might be high time that some General Officers resign over the threat to National Security and the policies being forced on the Military. General Petreaus disagreed with him saying, that the “Troops didn’t have that option”. [or words to that effect]

I happen to agree with General Keane, it is way past time for the Senior Leadership to display their dissatisfaction with the policy and head for the hills, reform and fight these policies, for the sake of the Country and do it very publicly. I also agree politically with SGT Stein, but, he has made a big mistake taking on this issue while serving in uniform however.

These restrictions go far beyond just the Military and extend into the Civilian work forces of Federal, State and Municipal employees under the “Hatch Act of 1939″. Though rarely used, it is always out there. One must be very careful, especially with this administration. Instead of being thrown under a Bus, one can find themselves on the unemployment line.

 BobF: Geo, I too agree with General Keane. Unfortunately, many of the senior officers are more concerned with their retirement than taking care of the troops. To retire at the 3&4-star level takes approval of an Obama controlled senate. Just look at what they want to do with TRICARE and the health care system for active duty.
Blogger Bob Mack at Be Sure You’re Right, Then Go Ahead: Members of the military follow orders because those who issue them have taken the same oath—to defend the Constitution of the United States. So what is to be done when that oath is violated by the leaders who have sworn to uphold it? “Befehl ist Befehl” (“an order is an order”) as a defense didn’t pass muster in 1945; why should it in 2012?
The cover of Marine Times comes from Doug Ross (thanks to Geo). With the attention grabber: Noisy NCOs who defy the chain of command — and why the brass isn’t stopping them, I would love to have a subscription to Marine Times ‘for the rest of the story.
Surely it can come as no surprise to the anti-American Left — i.e., the Democrat Party — that the U.S. militarydespises Barack Obama. After all, this is the president who promised to “fundamentally transform” America, and started by gutting NASA, all branches of the service, and our nuclear deterrent force.

The question of the day, or perhaps the question of the ages: at what point do Americans recognize tyranny? Will OathKeepers recognize it and sound the alarm? Who and when? November 2012 may forestall the necessity.

Veteran Loan Benefits

Posted by Maggie @ Maggie’s Notebook


  • Geo

    Maggie another great article!

    Sadly, this is the outcome I expected and thought would happen to SGT Stein. They are following the Military Laws and it will serve as a reminder to any others who may think they can do the same thing.

    The problems that we are facing today nationally are not going to be resolved within the Military, it needs to be addressed by retired Military Leaders from the outside.

  • Jvillemannc

    As an ex marine, I am disgusted by the actions of, Marine Sgt. Gary Stein. You sign a contract and vow to defend the United States….Not to pick and Choose what you feel is okay….you have absolutely no knowledge nor comprehension of what the CIC knows. As much as I personally dislike,
    President George W.Bush…I would never have attacked him so publicly, as you have President Obama. You soon to be a civilian, Gary Stein, are a disgrace to the uniform, the United States Marine Corps, and to the Nation. I sincerly hope you are dismissed and branded as a coward and drummed out ot the USMC with a dishonorable discharge.

    • Jvillemannc, I agree with much of what you have said, but keep in mind that Stein did not refuse an order. As much as you dislike Bush, there could have been orders that did not meet the constitutional muster. I’m not talking about small issues. These are big issues that are clearly unconstitutional.

      That’s what the Military today is thinking about in light of some legislation.

      The privilege of ‘one person one vote’ is under assault right now. This President is behind that assault. Some day, if are not very careful, we will have a Hugo Chavez in office. We must know what to do about it.

  • SAK71542

    The enlistment oath says “orders of the President” and officers, it does not say “lawful orders”, so he MUST obey them. That said,if he has a conscientious objection, then he should have classified himself as a “Conscientious Objector”…I think they are still allowing that in the military these days, but things have changed to be so PC since I was in Vietnam. BTAIM, our Country gives a Medal of Honor to someone who disobeys an order from an officer and that situation is praised. Who determines when an order should be followed? Those giving it? Those receving it? We have a bad situation in this case and many others in and out of the military. It’s called situation ethics and that framework is very problematic.

    • SAK71542, yes the Oath says the Constitution and the President. Keep in mind that Stein has never refused to follow an order. One of the problems is the National Defense Act that he has signed, that appears to allude to the power of disarming Americans. There are several things that have military thinking long and hard about this issue.

      Stein is not a Conscientious Objector.

      These were musings, and unfortunately, he mused outloud.

      Notice that this discussion was about the “what if…” As you say, we need the framework examined.

      I agree, it is a bad situation.