Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller pleaded guilty Oct. 14 to all charges against him at a special court-martial trial related to his criticisms about how senior military officials handled the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, although he didn’t backpedal from his calls for accountability.
Scheller’s punishment has yet to be finalized. U.S. Marine Corps Judge Glen Hines accepted his plea agreement and stipulation of facts, and witnesses testified about Scheller’s character to inform his sentencing decision.
Scheller spoke just before this article’s publication, and The Epoch Times obtained a copy of his written testimony. Closing arguments are still scheduled before Hines renders his punishment.
According to the written testimony, Scheller apologized for the unprofessional nature of some of his comments, but he still criticized senior leadership for failing to accept accountability for the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.
“I believe the General officers have demonstrated that they are unable or unwilling to hold themselves accountable. As a result, I believe fundamental change needs to occur in the military,” he said. “I am being held accountable for my actions. The General officers should be held accountable for their failures.”
Scheller also criticized the Marine Corps for apparently leaking confidential records about him to Task and Purpose.
“I was painted as a violent extremist, fascist, and the journalist even made a connection to Hitler. Obviously, you can understand that I was very angry following the article,” he said. “After everything I’ve been through, I feel it’s reasonable to conclude that the Marine Corps and Task and Purpose were working together in an effort to smear my name.”
The Marine further pointed out that he hasn’t been charged with making false statements “because everything I have said is true.”
“If the Marine Corps could have charged me with it, they would have,” he said.
According to a person familiar with the matter, the maximum punishment Scheller faces is a letter of reprimand. He also faces a potential general discharge under honorable conditions, which can reduce the number of benefits available to him.
The Epoch Times also obtained the stipulation of facts accepted by Hines. The document specifies the statements that put Scheller in hot water with his superiors, as well as Scheller’s reasons for pleading guilty.
The first charge stems from an Aug. 26 video he posted criticizing leaders for abandoning Bagram Air Base.
“Potentially, all of those people did die in vain if we don’t have senior leaders that own up and raise their hand and say we did not do this well in the end,” Scheller said.
Scheller also pleaded guilty to charges related to his continued social media messages made after officials placed restrictions on posting.
By Ken Silva