A military judge gave a slap on the wrist to the Marine who spoke out against military leaders' handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, saying he did not condone what Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller Jr. did but citing his "outstanding record."
Scheller drew a one-month forfeiture of $5,000 and a letter of reprimand, much less than what prosecutors were seeking, after he pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor-level charges at his court-martial. The charges included willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, dereliction in the performance of duties, and conduct unbecoming of an officer and gentleman.
Marine Corps Judge Col. Glen Hines said he had considered giving Scheller two months of docked pay but decided against it after considering the nine days Scheller spent in pretrial confinement before his lawyers and the military agreed to his release, according to Fox News. The judge also noted his positive military record but he said he didn't condone Scheller's remarks.
Scheller, a 17-year infantry officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, gained notoriety for criticizing military leaders for the execution of the Afghan withdrawal, posting the first of his viral videos the day after an ISIS-K terrorist detonated a suicide vest outside the Kabul airport and killed 13 U.S. service members and roughly 170 Afghan allies.
“The reason people are so upset on social media right now is not because the Marine on the battlefield let someone down,” Scheller said in the first of his videos in August. “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.’”
The prosecution recommended that Scheller forfeit $5,000 of pay for six months and a letter of reprimand, while the maximum penalty was a forfeiture of two-thirds of pay for up to a year and a letter of reprimand.
He was charged with the following under the Uniform Code of Military Justice regulations: 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 of an officer and a gentleman.
Scheller will likely receive an honorable discharge or a general discharge under honorable conditions, per the plea agreement, according to CNN.
Since his first video, Scheller grew a fan base among conservatives and others who agreed with his criticism of military leaders and expressed support for him as he goes through the military justice process. More than two dozen GOP lawmakers sent a letter calling for his release from confinement, and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Louie Gohmert spoke at his hearing on Thursday.
The Pipe Hitter Foundation, an organization created by Eddie Gallagher, the Navy SEAL pardoned by former President Donald Trump after being convicted of a war crime, has raised more than $2.5 million on Scheller's behalf.
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Original Author: Mike Brest