A U.S. marine who criticized his superiors for mishandling the Afghan withdrawal was detained and placed in solitary confinement. Thousands of Americans have raised millions of dollars as he faces the possibility of a prison term.
In August, Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller published a video on Facebook in which he criticized the U.S. military leadership for how they handled the American exit in Afghanistan. He asked why the higher-ranked officers never questioned the idea of evacuating the strategic airbase at Bagram before America finished pulling out people from the country. The video went viral. The next day, Scheller was informed by the military that he was “relieved for cause based on a lack of trust and confidence.”
In another video, Scheller called for accountability from senior leaders for the “obvious mistakes” made in Afghanistan. “I’m not saying we can take back what has been done. All I asked for was accountability, for people to comment on what I said and to say, ‘Yes, mistakes were made.’ And had they done that I would have gone back into rank-and-file, submitted, and accomplished what I wanted,” he said.
Scheller was eventually sent into confinement by the military and is awaiting a pretrial hearing. His family requested permission to attend the hearing but authorities appear adamant that the matter be confined behind closed doors.
The Pipe Hitter Foundation (PHF) set up a fundraiser to support Scheller and his family. Currently, the fundraiser has received over 33,000 donations. More than $2.5 million has been collected, exceeding the goal of $2 million. The money will be used for potential legal expenses, loss of military benefits and for support for Scheller’s wife and three kids.
“I gravitated towards PHF because in their mission it states, ‘defending the rights and freedoms of our men and women in uniform – the same rights and freedoms they risk their lives to uphold.’ This message is clearly in line with my life’s current path. A partnership with this organization was an easy choice,” Stu Scheller, Stuart Scheller’s father, said in a statement.
Scheller’s parents are concerned for his well-being. The Marine Corps has informed them that their son could face a “long prison term.” In an interview with NTD, Scheller’s mother Cathy called out the injustice that has befallen her son.
“He is an American war hero. He has fought for his men and women that follow him. He’s fought on the battlefield for them. I believe he has risked his life for his fellow service people and Americans. He is now risking his livelihood for them. He saw a misjustice happening at the top and he felt that they should be held accountable for it,” Cathy said.
On Sept. 29, Republican Representative Louie Gohmert together with 32 colleagues wrote a letter to the U.S. Marine Corps Commandant in support of Scheller. The letter was aimed at “expedited review and removal” of Scheller from his pretrial confinement. It accused Scheller’s confinement of being motivated by “messaging, retribution, and convenience” in violation of the Rule for Court Martial (RCM).
According to R.C.M. 305(h)(2)(B), a person shall not be confined “as a mere matter of convenience.” Plus, the person should be accommodated with “less serious forms of restraint.”“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,” the letter said.