Republican elected officials and their supporters are going to bat for Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, known for his viral Facebook video criticizing the Biden administration.
Republicans and right-wing media figures are lionizing a Marine lieutenant colonel who has been accused of violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice after he used social media to criticize the Biden administration's withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
A spokesperson for the Marines told the website Task & Purpose that Lt. Colonel Stuart Scheller could be charged with contempt toward officials; willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer; failure to obey an order; and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Scheller is in pretrial confinement in the brig at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina as he awaits the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing after violating direct orders prohibiting him from posting to social media accounts on Facebook and YouTube.
In a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) called Scheller an "American patriot who dared to speak the truth."
"Today, right now, this very second, he sits behind bars in my home state of North Carolina shackled in a military brig while those who orchestrated Biden's incompetent Afghanistan withdrawal walk free," Cawthorn said. "This is a stain on our nation's conscience. Lt. [sic] Stuart Scheller must be released."
Other Republican officials have weighed in as well. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) tweeted on Wednesday, "Release Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller!" Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) alleged that Scheller had been "locked up for expecting leadership."
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Tuesday asked Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about Scheller's status during a congressional hearing with military leaders on Afghanistan. Austin referred the inquiry to the Marines.
On Aug. 26, Scheller posted a video of himself, appearing in his uniform, condemning President Joe Biden and U.S. military leadership for the withdrawal from Afghanistan. The video went viral.
Military law experts say that while members of the armed services can participate in political activities, protests, and speech, they are prohibited from doing so while in uniform.
In his postings, Scheller not only expresses his opposition to Biden's actions but argues that he views "revolution" as a viable response. In an Aug. 29 video, Scheller told viewers, "Follow me and we will bring the whole fucking system down."
On Aug. 29, a spokesperson from the Marines reportedly told Politico the service had concerns over Scheller's mental health.
Scheller continued to post to social media.
In a Sept. 16 video, Scheller announced his intention to charge Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., who is the head of U.S. Central Command, for dereliction of duty.
In a Facebook post on Sept. 25, he shared what appeared to be the contents of an order sent to him: "Effective immediately upon your receipt below, you are hereby ordered to refrain from posting any and all material, in any form without exception, to any social media. In this context, the term 'social media' shall be construed very broadly to include any medium by which you may share information with groups of people." Continuing with a long list of criticisms of political and military officials by name, he concluded, "Col Emmel please have the MPs waiting for me at 0800 on Monday. I'm ready for jail."
"If the government doesn't serve the interests of the people, it's the people's obligation to throw off the old form of government," Scheller wrote that same day.
Scheller's story has been promoted in right-wing media, particularly on Fox News. On Tuesday night, his parents appeared on "The Ingraham Angle" in what host Laura Ingraham described as an "exclusive."
Introducing the segment, Ingraham said of Scheller, "While he's in jail, the craven leaders he called out peddled excuses for their failures in Afghanistan on the Hill today."
During their appearance, Scheller's parents promoted the Pipe Hitter Foundation, a nonprofit led by disgraced Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was charged with war crimes, was convicted of posing for pictures with the corpse of a dead ISIS fighter, and was later pardoned by President Donald Trump, which has been raising money for him.
On Aug. 31, Fox News host Tucker Carlson described Scheller as "the only military leader to suffer so far for this disaster."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.