Marine Who Posted Viral Videos Online Criticizing Afghanistan Withdrawal Sentenced

Marine Who Posted Viral Videos Online Criticizing Afghanistan Withdrawal Found Guilty

( – Although members of the armed services put their lives on the line to fight for America’s freedoms, they don’t enjoy the same rights as ordinary citizens under military law. For instance, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), service members forfeit their First Amendment right to free speech due to a need to maintain discipline. Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller Jr. recently learned the hard way that military tribunals play for keeps when prosecuting offenses related to public statements made by active-duty officers.

On October 6, military prosecutors charged Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller Jr. with six UCMJ violations after he posted a series of viral videos criticizing his chain of command’s role in the botched Afghan withdrawal and evacuation. Scheller walked into a military courtroom at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune on Friday, October 15, to learn his fate in the wake of his decision to plead guilty.

Marine Corps Judge Col. Glen Hines ordered Scheller to forfeit $5,000 pay. Prosecutors had recommended forfeiture of his $5,000 salary for six months and an official letter of reprimand. Judge Hines said he would have ordered the forfeiture for two months but decided to give Scheller credit for the nine days he spent in the brig.

Additionally, under his agreement with prosecutors, Scheller will resign his commission and receive either an honorable or a general discharge under honorable conditions provided Navy Secretary Carlos de Toro approves it.

Judge Hines also lashed out at prosecutors, stating Scheller’s pretrial confinement in the brig and a panoply of leaks to the press raised the “specter of unlawful command influence” over the trial. However, he didn’t give Scheller a free pass either. He noted Scheller’s “contemptuous words” against civilian leaders like Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were extremely “serious” and could “degrade public trust” in military and civilian officials.

What do you think about Scheller’s sentence?

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