Marine who criticized military over Afghan withdrawal to plead guilty at court martial, lawyer says
The Marine officer whose online video criticizing senior military leaders over the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan went viral is expected to plead guilty at his court-martial this week, his lawyer said.
Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller is facing several charges ahead of the court-martial set for Thursday at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. They include disrespect toward superior commissioned officers, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
One of Scheller's attorneys, Timothy Parlatore, confirmed to CBS News that his client would be pleading guilty, but would not say which charges Scheller would plead guilty to, since details are still being finalized.
As part of the plea deal, Scheller is hoping for either an honorable discharge or a general discharge under honorable conditions, along with a letter of reprimand, Parlatore said.
Coffee or Die Magazine and The Washington Post were first to report on the possible plea deal.
Scheller posted a video on social media following the August bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 100 Afghans in Kabul. While speaking in uniform, he criticized senior leadership's handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.
"People are upset because their senior leaders let them down and none of them are raising their hands and accepting responsibility and saying 'we messed this up,'" Scheller said in the video.
He criticized Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley for closing Bagram Air Base, the primary U.S. military base in Afghanistan, and for not anticipating the fall of the Afghan National Security Forces.
Scheller felt he needed to speak out to demand accountability, according to Parlatore.
"He would be an absolute hypocrite if he did not plead guilty because if you are going to demand accountability from others, you have to be willing to stand up and accept accountability for yourself," Parlatore told CBS News.
In the wake of the video, Scheller was relieved of duty by the Marine Corps. He was the battalion commander for the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, based in Camp Lejeune.
Scheller was held in pre-trial confinement at the brig at Camp Lejeune for about a week, but was released earlier this month.
A Marine Corps Training and Education Command spokesperson told CBS News they cannot comment on matters involving ongoing legal proceedings.
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