Updated Oct 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Judge accepts guilty plea of Marine who criticized Afghanistan withdrawal

A C-17 Globemaster takes off from Kabul.

A C-17 Globemaster takes off from Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 29, 2021. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty

A U.S. military judge on Thursday accepted the guilty plea of a Marine who publicly criticized the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The latest: Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller faces the possibility of a letter of reprimand and forfeiture of two-thirds of one month’s pay for a year, according to The Washington Post.

  • In a legal document accepted by the judge Thursday, Scheller acknowledged that he had disrespected his superiors and called his actions "wrongful," per Task & Purpose.
  • Sentencing is scheduled for Friday, according to U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Sam Stephenson. Pre-sentencing arguments were heard Thursday at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Catch up quick: Scheller's five charges include disrespect toward superior commissioned officers, willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, and dereliction in the performance of duties, Stephenson said.

  • Scheller gained notoriety at the end of August after he posted a video to social media lambasting the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after news broke of a Kabul airport bombing that killed 13 American service members and dozens of Afghans, per the Post.
  • Scheller was ordered to stop posting criticism on social media but went on to share more videos.
  • As part of his guilty plea, Scheller acknowledged "service members do not have the same freedom of speech to criticize senior U.S. officials as civilians," the Post reported.
  • He also levied criticisms against some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with details throughout. It has also been corrected to show Scheller faced five charges, not six.

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