Republicans are urging the Marine Corps to release marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller after being taken to the Brig for criticizing military leadership on social media over the botched withdrawal in Afghanistan.
Scheller is currently in pretrial confinement in the Regional Brig for Marine Corps Installations East onboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, pending an Article 32 preliminary hearing. The location, date, and time of the proceedings have yet to be determined.
The Marine Corps notes that he has not been charged with anything, but the “general nature” of offenses being considered at the hearing are:
- Article 88 (contempt toward officials)
- Article 90 (willfully disobeying superior commissioned officer)
- Article 92 (failure to obey lawful general orders)
- Article 133 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman)
The nation’s attention was on Scheller after he posted a video on Facebook criticizing his leadership on August 26, the day that 13 service members were killed during Biden’s hasty evacuation operation in Kabul.
Scheller, a battalion commander who had 17 years of active duty, acknowledged he was risking his career by demanding accountability.
The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down. … 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.’ If an O-5 battalion commander has the simplest live-fire, EO complaint — boom, fired.
His video calling out Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of Joint Cheifs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, and others went viral on September 30; it has been shared roughly 66,000 times and has 77,00 likes and 10,000 comments.
The next day, Scheller was fired; he became the only military officer to be punished for the Afghanistan withdrawal. He submitted his resignation letter, but his parents state the Marine Corps rejected his resignation letter.
On Monday, his parents wrote in an update:
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. He was issued a Gag order which he broke this weekend by posting on social media.
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.
Army veteran Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Austin about Scheller during a Senate hearing on the withdrawal on Tuesday:
Obviously, this is an issue on which many of our troops and our veterans feel very passionately…One of those service members, Marine Colonel Stuart Scheller, posted a very critical video on social media last month, and he was relieved of his command for that posting. Media reports today indicate that he is being held in pretrial confinement. Why is that?
Austin referred Cotton to the Marine Corps, saying, “I don’t have any specifics of what caused him to be held in pretrial confinement, and I would certainly ask the Marines to provide that insight.”
The next day, more than 30 House Republicans issued a letter to the Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger asking that Scheller be released from confinement. Led by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), they wrote:
The purpose of this letter is to request an expedited review and removal of LTC Scheller from pretrial confinement.
As you know, Rule for Court Martial (RCM) 305 (h) (2) (B) outlines that within 24, 48, and 72 hours of confinement, the service member’s commander must make a determination or show just cause that it is reasonably foreseeable that the service member: will not appear at trial, pretrial hearing, or investigation, or will engage in serious criminal misconduct, and that lesser forms of restraint are inadequate.
In fact, this confinement appears to be simply for messaging, retribution, and convenience in flagrant violation of RCM 305(h)(2)(B) “a person should not be confined as a mere matter of convenience.” Furthermore, RCM 305(h)(2)(B) also states that LTC Scheller should be accommodated in the “less serious forms of restraint.” For the above reasons, we urge you to use your considerable authority to correct this misapplication of law and immediately remove LTC Scheller from his 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. It is our understanding that some member offices have emailed the governments counsel Mr. Troy Campbell [email protected] with no response or feedback on the upcoming reevaluation hearing. It is imperative that Members of Congress be afforded an opportunity to conduct their oversight duties with respect to military justice. For the aforementioned reasons we request that LTC Scheller be released from pretrial confinement and be housed in the least restrictive form of housing.
GOP Reps also signed the letter. Madison Cawthorn, Lauren Boebert, Jeff Duncan, Buddy Carter, Ben Cline, Andy Biggs, Bob Good, Diana Harshbarger, Paul Gosar, Thomas Massie, Bill Posey, Barry Moore, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Daniel Webster, David Rouzer, Dan Bishop, Mary Miller, Andrew Clyde, Randy Weber, Matt Gaetz, Glenn Grothman, Debbie Lesko, Ralph Norman, Andy Harris, Doug LaMalfa, Barry Loudermilk, Billy Long, John Carter, Matthew Rosendale, James Comer, Warren Davidson, and August Pfluger.
Many of the members tweeted their statements on Twitter: