Marine officer who criticized Afghanistan withdrawal pleads guilty to multiple charges
The Marine officer who criticized the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in videos posted to social media pleaded guilty to all the resulting charges Thursday.
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor charges: contempt toward officers, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, failure to obey lawful general orders, dereliction in the performance of duties and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
His plea took place during a court-martial hearing at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Scheller in August posted videos to Facebook and LinkedIn after 13 service members were killed in an suicide bombing at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as U.S. forces were withdrawing from the country. While in uniform, Scheller demanded accountability from those in leadership over the messy evacuation.
The posts led to relief of his command, a week in confinement and the six charges.
“Did anyone raise their hand and say: ‘We completely messed this up?’ ” Scheller said in the video. “All I asked for was accountability, for people to comment on what I said and to say, ‘Yes. Mistakes were made.’ “
Scheller, an infantry officer for 17 years who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, had been warned not to keep posting content critical of the withdrawal after the first video went viral. But he continued to post on social media, and on Sept. 25, he said he was “ready for jail.”
Tim Parlatore, one of Scheller’s attorneys, said his team is working on an agreement with the hope of getting an honorable discharge or a discharge with honorable conditions.