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Marine pleads guilty after viral video criticized Afghanistan withdrawal

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller pleaded guilty Thursday to all charges in a special court-martial, and he'll receive a letter of reprimand and will have to forfeit $5,000 in salary for one month. He's the Marine officer who went viral for videos criticizing senior leadership during the Afghanistan withdrawal

Scheller pleaded guilty to six violations of military law that include contempt toward officials, disrespect toward superior commissioned officers, failure to obey order or regulation and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. 

The special court martial finished Friday morning. Military judge Colonel Glen Hines ordered a letter of reprimand, and a forfeiture of $5,000 for one month. Hines expressed some sympathy for Scheller during the proceeding.

"When I watched Lieutenant Colonel Scheller's videos," Hines said, "I saw a frustrated man and in pain."

Scheller's attorney, Tim Parlatore, spoke to the media outside the courtroom. 

"The judge's decision was very fair. I think that this is a good just sentence," he said. "I think he went far below that the government asked for."

An agreement reached between the Marine Corps and Scheller holds that military judge Colonel Glen Hines can sentence Scheller to no more than a letter of reprimand and seizure of 2/3rds of his pay for up to 12 months. 

In a roughly 20-minute statement in front of the court Thursday, Scheller emphasized what his videos had said from the beginning - Marine Corps leadership should be held accountable and the system needs to change. 

"Military leaders have an obligation to stand up to things that aren't right," he said. "I plead guilty and it pains me that my senior leadership can't do the same."

Six witnesses testified on behalf of Scheller, which began the sentencing phase of his court-martial. Among them were right-wing Republican members of Congress, Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Louie Gohmert of Texas.

Gohmert was Scheller's first witness. "Accountability is lacking," Gohmert said. "When a stand up guy puts his retirement on the line, that guy gets court-marshaled." 

Greene appeared next via Zoom video call.

"It takes courage to make the videos he made," Greene said. "We want to express our outrage… 13 military members were killed needlessly."

Testimony is due to continue on Friday. 

The video that thrust Scheller into the spotlight appeared on Facebook and LinkedIn on August 26 in the video,, Scheller criticized Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley for closing the Bagram Air Force Base outside of Kabul and for failing to anticipate the rapid fall of the Afghan National Security Forces. 

Following that video, Scheller was relieved of duty by the Marine Corps. 

Scheller had been the battalion commander for the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

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A few days later, Scheller addressed social media posts to General David Berger, the commandant of the United States Marine Corps, saying in part, "your problem right now… is that I am moving faster than you. I'm outmaneuvering you."

An attorney for Scheller told CBS News ahead of the court martial that Scheller would plead guilty to some of the charges. 

"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," Scheller's lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said in a phone interview with CBS News. 

Gillian Morley contributed to this report. 

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