Nearly two dozen Republican lawmakers seek to have a senior Marine who criticized the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan released from custody.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller reported to the brig at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Monday. The 17-year veteran was held for violating a gag order last weekend that prohibited him from posting on social media.
Scheller has not been formally charged in an anticipated court-martial for his viral video last month that criticized the administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Kabul, which resulted in 13 soldiers, mostly Marines, being killed in a terrorist attack and stranded hundreds of Americans in Afghanistan. The allegations against Scheller include showing contempt toward officials, willfully disobeying a superior officer, failing to obey lawful orders, and committing conduct unbecoming of an officer.
On Wednesday, 21 GOP lawmakers sent Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, a letter requesting that the lieutenant colonel be released from pretrial confinement.
The letter noted that under military rules governing courts-martial Scheller’s commander must show cause why he would not be present for trial or other proceedings and that “lesser” forms of restraint are inadequate.
“This confinement appears to be simply for messaging, retribution, and convenience,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge you to use your considerable authority to correct this misapplication of law and remove LTC Scheller from his confinement.”
“Given his excellent record and more than 15 years of service, we do not believe and have seen no evidence that LTC Scheller poses a grave risk of criminal misconduct,” the letter continued.
The lawmakers also note that the prosecutor over Scheller’s case has not responded to request for information about his case, which, they add, interferes with their ability to conduct oversight of the military justice system. Accordingly, they ask that Scheller be released and “housed in the least restrictive form of housing.”
Those who signed the letter include Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, and Paul Gosar of Arizona. Two Floridians also signed, Reps. Daniel Webster of Clermont and Bill Posey of Rockledge.
The Free Press posted an article on Wednesday noting that Scheller offered to resign under honorable conditions, but the Marine Corps denied his petition. In his resignation letter, which was sent to Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Scheller cited “a lack of trust and confidence in your ability to lead” as his reason for exiting the Corps.
Scheller’s parents told the Daily Caller that the Marine Corps countered with a verbal offer of less than honorable conditions, which would have denied Scheller a pension and benefits.
After releasing his video in August, Scheller was relieved of command and later ordered to undergo a psychological exam.
As it stands, Scheller would be the only person to face losing his career, and possibly his freedom, for the chaos and death – including 13 soldiers and nearly 200 Afghan citizens slaughtered by terrorists, hundreds of U.S. civilians, and Afghan green-card holders abandoned to the Taliban, and 10 Afghan citizens, including seven children, killed by a U.S. drone strike in retaliation – that ensued in Afghanistan after President Joe Biden ordered U.S. troops to leave by Aug. 31.
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