Marine Officer Who Criticized US Military Officials Over Afghanistan Withdrawal To Plead Guilty As Part Of Plea Deal
Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times,
A Marine Officer who faces trial by court-martial on Oct. 14 for criticizing senior military officials over the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is set to plead guilty to several charges, his lawyers said.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller has been charged with contempt toward officials, disrespect toward superior commissioned officers, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, dereliction in the performance of duties, failure to obey an order or regulation, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
Scheller will allegedly plead guilty to some charges in the hopes of avoiding a prison sentence and secure instead either an honorable discharge or a general discharge under honorable conditions.
The possibility of such a plea deal was first reported by Coffee or Die Magazine.
“Our hope is for him to get a letter of reprimand, and no more,” Tim Parlatore, one of Scheller’s attorneys, told The Washington Post.
Scheller was placed in confinement at the Regional Brig for Marine Corps Installations East at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, on Sept. 27.
Two days later, a number of Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, requesting an expedited review and removal of Scheller from pretrial confinement.
“Given his excellent record and more than 15 years of dedicated service, we do not believe and have seen no evidence that LTC Sheller poses a grave risk of criminal misconduct,” lawmakers wrote in their letter.
The Marine was released from confinement on Oct. 5, as part of a mutual agreement between Lt. Col. Scheller, his Defense counsel, and the Commanding General, Training Command, Captain Sam Stephenson, Training and Education Command, spokesperson confirmed.
Scheller gained viral fame back in August when he posted a video on social media alleging that top military leaders were not taking responsibility for how the military withdrawal from Afghanistan was handled, including the ISIS terrorist attack that left 13 service members dead in Kabul.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller—the U.S. Marine jailed for criticizing senior military officials—has been released from detention but could still face charges, The Epoch Times understands. (screenshot)
“The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down,” Scheller said in the video.
“People are upset because their senior leaders let them down. And none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, ‘We messed up.’”
A U.S. Marine passes out water during the evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 21, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps/Isaiah Campbell/Getty Images)
He then continued to release further videos on LinkedIn and Facebook as well as written statements criticizing military officials, and was reportedly told by his superiors to stop posting on social media entirely.
However, he appeared to defy that directive in a further post, in which he announced he had been relieved from his position as the battalion commander for the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at School of Infantry East at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, based on a “lack of trust and confidence.”
At the time, Scheller’s mother, Cathy Scheller, said she believed the military was treating her son unfairly, and confirmed he has been taken to a lockup pending a hearing.
“He is an American war hero. He has fought for his men and women that follow him. He’s fought on the battlefield for them. I believe he has risked his life for his fellow service people and Americans. He is now risking his livelihood for them. He saw a misjustice happening at the top and he felt that they should be held accountable for it,” Cathy Scheller said on NTD’s “The Nation Speaks.”
Parlatore told The Post that details about the plea deal are “still up in the air” but that he is willing to take accountability for his actions, in light of the fact that he is demanding military officials also take accountability for their own actions regarding the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The lawyer also noted that Scheller went through an “emotional roller coaster” after posting his first video, noting that this is something many other veterans experience in a more private manner.
“There is no question that there is some severe emotional distress throughout, and he definitely went to some very dark places,” Parlatore said.
“This is unfortunately not uncommon for a lot of the veteran community.”
On Oct. 9, Task and Purpose published a story based on leaked documents that purported to show Scheller’s support for the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach.
Scheller’s defense team has criticized military officials for leaking the case documents ahead of his trial, saying that the leak is designed to harm Scheller’s reputation and distract people from his calls for accountability for senior leadership’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.
Parlatore told The Epoch Times that the alleged conversation was taken out of context and that Scheller was only commenting on how the Jan. 6 situation could have been worse.
Scheller’s hearing is set to take place at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.