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Naval officer who posted videos criticizing General Milley, other military leaders face court martial

A Marine Lt. Col. who was thrown in jail for posting videos criticizing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Mark Milley and other senior military leaders for their role in the withdrawal from Afghanistan, will advocate guilty on multiple counts at his court martial on Thursday, his lawyer said.

Lt. Col. Stu Scheller is accused of disrespecting senior officers, willful disobedience to an officer, conduct unbecoming an officer, contempt of his senior leadership, and violation of good order and discipline.

On August 26, Scheller posted a video to social media in which he criticized US military leaders for the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and demanded accountability for the 13 servicemen killed in an ISIS bombing. He made the video hours after the Abbey Gate attack at Kabul airport. Scheller served in Afghanistan and claimed to know someone who was killed in the attack.

Medical and hospital staff bring an injured man on a stretcher for treatment after two explosions outside Kabul airport on August 26, 2021.Wakil Koshar / AFP – Getty Images file

In the video, Scheller said: “People are upset because their top leadership let them down, and none of them are raising their hands and accepting responsibility or saying we messed it up.”

“I have been fighting for 17 years. I am willing to throw it all in to tell my senior leaders that I am demanding accountability. “

Shortly after the video was released, Scheller was relieved of his command at Camp Lejeune Infantry School, North Carolina, “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” a said Marine Corps spokesman Major Jim Stenger. “This is obviously an emotional time for many Marines, and we encourage anyone who is struggling at the moment to seek advice or speak to another Marine. There is a forum in which Marine leaders can express their concerns. disagreements with the chain of command, but it’s not social media.

But Scheller’s video went viral, and despite orders not to continue, Scheller posted several more. In one, he vowed to bring a complaint against the commander of the United States Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, saying: “Senior leaders must be held accountable in the same way as we are.

Scheller’s notoriety grew after he challenged his commanding officer to arrest him. “I’m ready for jail,” he said on Facebook on September 25, and even told the officer to meet him at 8:00 am Monday morning. Military police arrested him and he spent over a week in military prison.

After his arrest, Scheller said he partnered with the Pipe Hitter Foundation, the nonprofit created by former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, which was pardoned by former President Trump for his role in the murder of an ISIS prisoner. Together, Scheller and the foundation have raised over $ 2 million for Scheller and his family.

“He hit a nerve with a lot of people. You screw up, you should admit it, ”said a source close to Scheller’s defense. Naval officers learn moral and physical courage, the source said, and that includes “be prepared to call him what you see and he did.”

Scheller will plead guilty as a sign of liability, said his lawyer Tim Parlatore, who also represented Gallagher. “He will show the generals what responsibility looks like. “

Scheller will lose more than $ 2 million in retirement compensation for the move, according to his lawyer. He asks for an honorable discharge. His special court martial begins Thursday at Camp Lejeune.

As part of the defense, Scheller’s defense team plans to rely on the recent testimony of Joint Chiefs Chairman General Milley, who admitted to speaking with authors of books in which he is quoted disparaging the commander in leader, former President Trump. The defense is considering arguing that while Milley is not held responsible for criticizing his commander, Scheller is being prosecuted for the same offense.

Naval officer who posted videos criticizing General Milley, other military leaders face court martial

A source close to Scheller’s defense said: “[Scheller] is accused of doing this [Milley] and others admitted they did.

Parlatore said: “There is no doubt that there is a double standard here.”

According to the indictments, obtained by the military blog Task and Purpose, the Marine Corps alleges that Scheller made statements that appear to incite protest, such as “every generation needs a revolution.” Pentagon regulations restrict members of the Revolutionary Protest and Advocacy Services. The charges, however, relate to his videos, and his purported statement about the revolution does not appear in the videos.

Parlatore called the allegations that his client was inciting the revolution “a complete distraction.”

“This case is about the responsibility and failure of Pentagon leaders in leading and withdrawing from Afghanistan. The only way to avoid that is to change the subject so that they want to talk about January 6, ”Parlatore said.

He did not challenge Task and Purpose’s characterization of the content of the indictments.

Parlatore acknowledged that Scheller had had conversations about the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising, but described one case as “a casual discussion” with a colleague about the security posture and his belief that the crowd did not have it. intention to engage in violence. He described the conversation as expected for a security and military professional.

Naval officer who posted videos criticizing General Milley, other military leaders face court martial

In a video from September 16, 2021, Scheller called for a change in the military. Speaking directly to the Commander of the Marine Corps, Gen. David Berger, Scheller said a revival must take place at the general officer level.

In the same video, Scheller said the Marine Corps offered him “a very fair deal,” including non-judicial punishment rather than a court martial and an agreement to waive his retirement pay and resign from his commission. Scheller would accept a general discharge under honorable conditions. He admitted that making this video “could destroy this deal.”

Scheller maintains that military leaders should be held accountable for their decision to shut down the Bagram air base, which he says has contributed to the chaos at Kabul airport. His lawyer insists that this is not a political enterprise and that Scheller does not criticize political leaders. He praises two Republican congressmen, Rep. Brian Mast from Florida and Rep. Dan Crenshaw from Texas, in a video, but most of the criticism centers on military leaders.

The Marine Corps declined to comment on Scheller’s court martial or confirm that a deal had been proposed. General Milley declined to comment.