Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller pleaded guilty on Oct. 14, 2021, at a special court-martial after being charged with multiple violations of military law. Photo courtesy of The Pipe Hitter Foundation.
On behalf of all media, on Tuesday morning, Oct. 5, Coffee or Die Magazine urged the US Marine Corps to halt a secret military hearing to decide the fate of Stuart Scheller, the outspoken lieutenant colonel and combat veteran who urged accountability from senior leaders for battlefield failures in Afghanistan.
Alerted that even congressional staffers might be barred entry by the Marines, Coffee or Die called on dozens of the Corps’ top attorneys to stay Tuesday’s initial review officer’s hearing to determine whether Scheller will continue to be held as a “flight risk” at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, pending an upcoming Article 32 hearing.
Marine officials have yet to respond to Coffee or Die’s request or to comment on a series of bombshell files leaked to the magazine that outline internal military efforts to broker a deal that would see the maverick Marine depart the Corps. In exchange, Scheller will plead guilty to some, but not all, charges leveled against him.
Although Scheller has yet to be formally charged for any crime, the Marine Corps has said he’s being incarcerated awaiting charges for allegedly violating Article 88 (contempt for officials), Article 90 (willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer’s orders), Article 92 (failure to obey a lawful general order), and Article 133 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman).
In a letter to the U.S. Marine Corps Commandant, my colleagues and I have asked that LTC Stuart Scheller be released from pretrial confinement: pic.twitter.com/vTSBXTvKvh
— Louie Gohmert (@replouiegohmert) September 30, 2021
Scheller’s offenses allegedly stem from a series of videos and social media posts made by the former commander of the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at the School of Infantry-East in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Scheller rocketed to notoriety in the aftermath of an Aug. 26 viral video, when he voiced his “growing discontent and contempt” for the “ineptitude” of military and civilian leaders during the bungled evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghans from Taliban-controlled Kabul.
His video also spoke to his grief after suicide bombers killed 13 US service members at Hamid Karzai International Airport’s Abbey Gate.
Marine leaders fired Scheller from his Camp Lejeune post after he requested to resign his commission. Critics contend his statements denigrating the chain of command deserve punishment. Supporters, however, say Scheller is being held unlawfully by the Marine Corps as a political prisoner, and his case has sparked an outcry from GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Files leaked to Coffee or Die Magazine indicate that Republican lawmakers also have been battling the Corps over both Scheller’s fate and their own access to upcoming legal hearings involving the 17-year Marine combat veteran.
“Is it under your authority that Members of Congress will be denied access to this hearing? Please confirm so that I know who to direct the Member office letters to,” read one Monday morning email sent by Derrick Miller, a staffer for Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert and the Congressional Justice for Warriors Caucus.
In another Monday morning email to Marine brass, Scheller’s pro bono attorney, Brian Ferguson, urged the Corps to respect his client’s constitutional rights, which include public hearings.
“Conducting a secret detention hearing closed from public view is flagrantly unlawful,” wrote Ferguson. “It denies rights to both the accused and the public at large. Attempting to confine the LtCol after an unlawful hearing will force the defense to seek a writ for his release.”
Carl Prine is a senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He previously worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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