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Tri-State Marine released from brig after demanding ‘accountability’ from military leaders over Afghan response

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 2:49 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Marine from Anderson, Ohio, has been released from confinement after being locked up in pretrial confinement for making several videos demanding “accountability” for the deaths of 13 U.S. troops in Kabul.

Lt. Col. Stu Scheller was released Tuesday as part of an agreement between himself, his defense counsel, the Commanding General and Training Command, according to Marine Corps Training and Education Command Spokesperson Sam Stephenson.

Lt. Col. Scheller posted videos of himself last month online criticizing military leadership for its response in Afghanistan.

He was put in the brig at Camp Lejeune on court-martial charges for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Stephenson said. Lt. Col. Scheller was accused of violating Article 88 (Contempt toward officials), Article 89 (Disrespect toward superior commissioned officers), Article 90 (Willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer), Article 92 (Dereliction in the performance of duties), Article 92 (Failure to obey order or regulation) and Article 133 (Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman).

Scheller’s parents reached out to Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) for help getting their Marine son out of military prison.

“Knowing he is from the district, I had an opportunity... a chance to speak with his family who reached out to me, and you know, I wanted to be a little bit consoling,” Wenstrup said. “I’m still a member of the military. I’m in the Army Reserves and there are certain things you can and can’t say. And you know, as I looked into this, he came out and said things like ‘I know that I’m going to be in trouble for this, but I need to speak up.’”

Northern Kentucky House Representative Thomas Massie also came to the aid of Lt. Col. Scheller when he and 11 other members of Congress signed a letter calling for an expedited review and his removal from pretrial confinement.

His parents told Laura Ingraham, host of Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle,” that “something inside of our son snapped” when 13 troops died at the Kabul Airport.

Here is part of what Lt. Col. Scheller said in his videos:

“I have been fighting for 17 years. I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders: I demand accountability. People are upset because their senior leaders let them down and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability and saying, ‘We messed this up.’”

“To recap my position in the fallout of Afghanistan, I demanded accountability of my senior leaders and I stated then that I understood that I might lose my commander seat, my retirement and my family stability. As it has played out, I have, in fact, lost all three of those things,” he said in his last video.

“Looking at the organizations that are so dear to me... the military establishment and the political establishment of the American government I was seeing key leaders who weren’t being held accountable and abusing their positions of power at the expense of the everyday American.

“Everything that I’ve fought for is countered to that. The future that my sons are going to grow up in is contingent upon the organization being able to evolve - which only happens through accountability.”

A Marine does have the right to free speech. However, Stephenson says there are proper channels a Marine needs to take when raising concerns.

“In the military, there are proper forums to raise concerns with the chain of command. In a general sense not specific to any case, posting to social media criticizing the chain of command is not the proper manner in which to raise concerns with the chain of command and may, depending upon the circumstances, constitute a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“Orders and directives regulate the conduct of members of our military and ensure good order and discipline.

“Adhering to these orders is every service member’s obligation, backed by an oath of enlistment or commissioning that each service member takes when entering the service and at various times throughout their career, and a service member’s failure to adhere to such orders and directives may subject them to prosecution for that failure under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” Stepheson stated.

The charges Lt. Col. Scheller was facing were referred to special court-martial on Wednesday, according to Stephenson.

No further hearings are scheduled at this time in this case, Stephenson said.

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