Dozens of members of Congress have demanded the immediate release of Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who was imprisoned for defying orders to stop publicly criticizing the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Scheller, 40, was arrested and imprisoned Monday at the Camp Lejeune brig for allegedly violating four military laws by refusing orders to stop posting critical videos on social media.
He was supposed to appear in court for the first time in North Carolina today, but the public, including elected officials and the media, were barred from attending. The non-partisan Justice Warriors Caucus, an official congressional group that advocates for service members who have been wrongfully imprisoned, is not pleased with the lack of transparency.
‘The fact that they are attempting to do this behind closed doors should worry every American.’
At least 36 members of Congress have signed a letter calling for Scheller’s release, as part of an effort led by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who stated that the Marine’s detention “appears to be for messaging, retribution, and convenience.”
Madison Cawthorn, Paul Gosar, Bill Posey, Buddy Carter, and Bob Good are among the signatories. According to Gohmert’s letter to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David H. Berger, Scheller’s commander is required by law to justify his detention within 72 hours.
‘Given his impeccable record and more than 15 years of dedicated service, we do not believe and have seen no evidence that LTC Sheller poses a serious risk of criminal misconduct,’ Gohmert wrote.
‘We request that LTC Scheller be released from pretrial confinement and housed in the least restrictive form of housing for the reasons stated above.’ Scheller, based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, was three years away from retirement when he posted a scathing video criticizing superiors on August 26, the same day 13 US troops were killed in Kabul.
He ripped into military and civilian leadership again in a Facebook post on Saturday, inviting commanding officers to throw him in the brig after being ordered to stop posting on social media.
Miller emphasized the irony of Scheller’s imprisonment despite the fact that no Americans have been held accountable for the August 26 ambush or a more recent US drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including children. ‘But when you look at the Lt. Col. Scheller case and other cases where someone was directly impacted or raised an issue with the command’s conduct, they are automatically charged or deprived of their freedom behind closed doors, where people can’t see what’s going on,’ he added.
The nature and circumstances of the suspected offenses, the weight of evidence, Scheller’s local ties to the community, his character and mental state, and his service record are all factors to consider.
According to her, the court will also consider Scheller’s likelihood of fleeing and whether he is likely to “commit further serious criminal misconduct” if released. Stuart Scheller Sr., the Marine’s father, stated that he does not believe his son will be released.
His mother, Cathy Scheller, has questioned why he is being treated so harshly despite the fact that he has not harmed anyone.
Scheller is charged with contempt for officials, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, failure to obey order or regulation, and conduct unbecoming of an officer or a gentleman, according to a military charge sheet.
According to a source close to the case, he is being held in a facility normally reserved for suspected murderers.
According to a former employee, the brig at Camp Lejeune’s base brig is not a pleasant place to be. The pre-trial holding facility was rebuilt in 2012 to replace a 44-year-old jail with the ‘latest and greatest features,’ the Marines said in a press release announcing its opening.
According to the Marines, the facility offers a variety of correctional programs, fitness training, counseling, religious programming, and other services.