Authored by Ken Silva via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
The pretrial confinement initial review hearing for Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller—the U.S. Marine Corps officer jailed for criticizing senior military officials over the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan—could be held in secret, The Epoch Times has learned.
Members of Congress and Scheller’s family are seeking to attend the hearing, but the military’s position is that such matters should be held behind closed doors, according to a source familiar with the situation. The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid backlash from the military, provided The Epoch Times with documentation supporting these claims.
The public affairs office for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina—where Scheller is confined at the regional brig—didn’t respond to media inquiries by press time. USMC spokesperson Samuel Stephenson also didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time, nor did government counsel Troy Campbell.
Scheller’s attorney, Brian Ferguson, declined to speak publicly about the case.
When Scheller was initially jailed, a Marine Corps spokesman said he would be “afforded all due process.”
The hearing, set for Oct. 5, will decide only whether Scheller is to remain in confinement. Either way, military officials must still decide whether to bring charges against him.
Scheller captured headlines in late August for criticizing senior military leadership on the handling of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. His initial video was posted on the same day that 13 U.S. troops and more than 100 Afghans were killed in an attack outside of the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
He published another video on Sept. 16, saying that he was calling for “accountability of my senior leaders” over “obvious mistakes that were made.” In that video, Scheller also said he was “submitting charges” against Central Command (CENTCOM) Commander Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie for his role in the disastrous withdrawal.
Scheller was reportedly thrown in the brig on Sept. 27, sparking outrage from some lawmakers and members of the public.
In a Sept. 29 letter to Marine Corps Gen. David Berger and Gen. David Bligh, 35 members of Congress called for Scheller’s release.
“In fact, this confinement appears to be simply for messaging, retribution, and convenience in flagrant violation of R.C.M. [Rule for Court Martial]: ‘a person should not be confined as a mere matter of convenience,’” says the letter, whose signers include Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).
“Furthermore, R.C.M. 305(h)(2)(B) also states that LTC Scheller should be accommodated in the ‘less serious forms of restraint.’ For the above reasons, we urge you to use your considerable authority to correct this misapplication of law and immediately remove LTC Scheller from his confinement.”
In a separate letter, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) questioned Berger about why Scheller is being detained.
“Requirements for pretrial confinement are very specific. Restraint is not every case and should be no more rigorous than required to ensure the person’s trial or to prevent foreseeable serious criminal misconduct,” Wicker said. “Please provide the rationale, including any associated administrative or judicial records, used by Lt. Col. Scheller’s chain of command to justify and document the decision to place him in pretrial confinement.
“Regardless of the accusations, he deserves the same rights as any other service member.”
According to online publication Task and Purpose, the pretrial confinement hearing was initially scheduled for Sept. 30, but was delayed until Oct. 5 so that the defense and prosecution could “seek a joint resolution of the matter.” Scheller has agreed to stay in the brig in the meantime as a show of solidarity with fellow Marines in far worse conditions around the world, according to a person familiar with the matter.
During a Sept. 29 hearing on the Afghanistan withdrawal—the same hearing at which McKenzie provided false information about the Aug. 29 drone attack that killed Afghan citizens—Gaetz lamented the fact that senior military officials are still in positions of power while Scheller sits in the brig.
“When people in the military like Lt. Col. Scheller stand up and demand accountability, when they say you all screwed up, when they point out General Milley’s statement that Afghanistan’s not going to be defeated by the Taliban—well, he ends up in a brig, and you all end up in front of us,” Gaetz said.
“And your [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s] former employer Raytheon ends up with a lot of money, and we have poured cash and blood and credibility into a Ghani government that was a mirage.”