Defense

Military Levels Final Judgement On Marine Who Criticized Military Leadership Over The US Afghanistan Withdrawal

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Jennie Taer Investigative Reporter
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  • The Marine whose outspoken social media posts criticizing military leaders for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan received a final judgement in his case Friday.
  • Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was given a letter of reprimand and ordered to forfeit $5,000 of pay for one month, Fox News reported, after being found guilty of multiple charges including showing contempt and disrespecting officers following a social media video where he criticized senior military officials over the Afghanistan exit.
  • A member of Scheller’s defense team told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the judge “was clearly disturbed by the government’s conduct in this case.”

The Marine whose outspoken social media posts criticizing military leaders for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan received a final judgement in his case Friday.

Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was given a letter of reprimand and ordered to forfeit $5,000 of pay for one month, Fox News reported.

The judge said in court Friday that he would have given a two-month forfeiture of pay had Scheller not spent nine days in pre-trial confinement, according to Fox News. The judge also recognized Scheller’s 17-year career as a Marine, but did not excuse his offenses.

Scheller pled guilty to six charges Thursday in a court-martial hearing and was later found guilty of all charges, including showing contempt toward officials, disobeying an officer, disrespecting officers, failing to abide by regulation, abandoning his duties and displaying behavior unbecoming of an officer.

A member of Scheller’s defense team told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the judge “was clearly disturbed by the government’s conduct in this case.”

“It was outrageous to place him in confinement as a flight risk for a charge that did not even carry the possibility of confinement,” the member of the defense team said. “The judge highlighted how impressive the Lieutenant Colonel’s military service was and he was clearly impressed with it, especially compared to what you normally see in a court martial. The other thing that he really picked up on, and this is probably the most important thing, when you looked at the charging documents versus the actual videos, it was very clear that the government had selected snippets that made him look far worse than he was, that they had overcharged and that they had painted him in a false light that when the judge went back and watched the actual videos and was like ‘oh, well this is it?,'”

He added: “Ambitious prosecutors make this mistake when they come and they overcharge, and judges don’t like it because it doesn’t look fair, it’s not judicious and it goes against the whole reason the judges are there, which is to try to get a just outcome. And so I think the reason that he basically completely ignored their sentencing recommendation was because he was agitated with what they had done. So, yes, Scheller broke the rules. Yes, he admitted he broke them and yes, he [the judge] had to do something to admonish him for that, but he came in at the very low end because he understood the context.”

Scheller posted a video in August criticizing senior military officials over the Afghanistan exit. He said at the time that he was willing to “throw” away his years of military service over it.

Scheller later posted that he had been “relieved for the cause.” He subsequently said that he was “ordered to refrain from posting” and was later thrown in the brig. Scheller was released from the brig last week before his trial.

Jeffrey Addicott, who served as an active duty Army officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for twenty years, told the DCNF that the punishment was appropriate in this case. (RELATED: Marine Jailed After Criticizing Military Leaders For Afghanistan Withdrawal Found Guilty Of All Charges)

“In my opinion, the Colonel did the right thing in the wrong way, and that’s his problem,” Addicott said. “The right thing is he’s demanding accountability. He did it in a wrong way, you know if you’re in uniform, that’s not the way to do it. So, I think the judge recognized that and gave an appropriate punishment.”

He added: “You see, as an officer you have a commission that you’re given, so they’re different than enlisted folks and if you want to, you have to get permission to basically resign your commission. In most cases, officers that have medical issues, they’ll allow you to retire early and receive a pension. It is possible for them to allow him to retire and get a pension, but they’ll probably just accept his resignation of his commission and they will not give him a pension, in my opinion.”

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