Republican lawmakers in both houses of Congress are demanding that the United States Marine Corps release a Lieutenant Colonel who was jailed earlier this week for criticizing military leadership after the failed Afghanistan withdrawal, Breitbart reports.
A Marine spokesperson confirmed that Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller is currently in pre-trial confinement in the Regional Brig of Marine Corps Installations East, in Camp Lejeune, as he awaits an Article 32 hearing. Although he has not yet been formally charged, Scheller faces the possibility of being charged under a handful of articles, including “contempt toward officials” (Article 88), “willfully disobeying superior commissioned officer” (Article 90), “failure to obey lawful general orders” (Article 92), and “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman” (Article 133).
Scheller first made his criticisms in a viral video he posted to Facebook on August 26th, the same day that a suicide attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in the capital city of Kabul claimed the lives of 13 American servicemembers, as well as hundreds of Afghan civilians. Scheller demanded accountability from military leadership for a withdrawal that has been universally viewed, both domestically and internationally, as a disaster.
“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 this up,’” Scheller said in the video. “If an O-5 battalion commander has the simplest live-fire, EO complaint — boom, fired.”
He specifically criticized Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who have both been testifying on Capitol Hill over the last few days with regards to the Afghanistan withdrawal. The video has since been shared over 66,000 times, has 77,000 likes, and has over 10,000 comments.
But on the very next day, the 17-year veteran was removed from his position as a battalion commander. He tried to submit his resignation letter, but the Marine Corps refused to accept his resignation. This Monday, his parents announced that Scheller had been jailed for speaking out.
“It is with a heavy heart that we, his parents, are informing you that our son, Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, has been incarcerated by the USMC this morning, September 27, 2021,” they confirmed in a statement. “Recently, Stu asked to resign; The USMC told us, his parents, that our son serves at the pleasure of the President. They have not accepted his resignation.”
During the hearings involving Milley and Austin, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked Austin why Scheller was jailed, to which the Secretary replied that he did not “have any specifics of what caused him to be held in pretrial confinement,” and that he “would certainly ask the Marines to provide that insight.”
The day after the testimony, over 30 House Republicans signed a joint letter to the Marine Corps Commandant, General David Berger, demanding Scheller’s release.
“Given his excellent record and more than 15 years of dedicated service,” the letter states, “we do not believe and have seen no evidence that LTC Sheller poses a grave risk of criminal misconduct.” The letter was signed by Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), and Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), among others.