Marine officer who criticized Afghanistan withdrawal expected to plead guilty

A Marine officer who criticized the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is expected to plead guilty to several charges against him for his comments. 

Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller Jr. took to Facebook in August after 13 service members were killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport demanding accountability from those in leadership. 

The video, which Scheller took in uniform, led to charges including contempt toward officials, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, failure to obey lawful general orders, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.

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He spent a week in confinement and will appear in court on Thursday at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Tim Parlatore, one of Scheller’s attorneys, told The Hill that Scheller will be pleading guilty in the case.

“This case began with a call for accountability and Lt. Col. Scheller will demonstrate to senior leadership how to accept accountability for his own actions,” Parlatore said.

Parlatore said the team is working on an agreement with the hope of getting Scheller an honorable discharge or a discharge with honorable conditions. 

He added that Scheller should only get a letter of reprimand and no additional punishments following the “totally excessive and unnecessary” week in the brig.

The potential agreement was first reported by The Washington Post, with the possibility of a plea deal first reported by Coffee or Die Magazine.

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“The real big question that remains is whether all the very important messages that he brought out will be adopted because, while the Marine Corp. leadership can sit there and say” he shouldn’t have taken his comments online, “nobody is saying that he said anything that was untrue,” Parlatore stated. 

Many were critical after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, but Scheller’s critique led him to be relieved a day after he posted the video on Facebook in August. 

“The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marines on the battlefield let someone down. ... People are upset because their senior leaders let them down. And none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability or saying, ‘We messed this up,’” he said.