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Lt. Col. Scheller to remain in the brig until next week without charges

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller will remain in the brig until at least next week following an initial hearing into his insubordination case Thursday at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Lt. Col. Scheller, a combat veteran with 17 years in the Marine Corps, is in pre-trial confinement and facing four possible charges: contempt toward officials; willfully disobeying a superior officer; failure to obey an order, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. The charges stem from several media posts and videos he released in recent weeks openly and sharply criticizing senior military commanders over their handling of the war in Afghanistan.

When given a “gag order” to stop his posts, Lt. Col. Scheller discussed that as well online.

Marine Corps officials and his defense team both agreed to put the next hearing on hold until next week. The delay will allow the parties to seek a joint resolution of the matter, according to someone familiar with the case who asked to remain anonymous because of a Marine Corps-imposed gag order.

While he has yet to be charged, Marine Corps officials say they consider him a flight risk and believe China may intend to use his comments as propaganda. But he has also become a cause celebre for some who support his criticisms.

In addition to almost 23,000 people who contributed to his legal defense, Lt. Col. Scheller has some powerful backers on Capitol Hill. Almost three dozen lawmakers wrote to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger this week questioning how the case is being handled. Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, called the decision to jail the Marine lieutenant colonel before any charges had been filed “completely unwarranted.”

“It is tragic that such swift action has been taken against Lt. Col. Scheller for his demands for accountability from military leadership due to their disastrous and deadly handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Mr. Gohmert said in a statement.

By Friday, supporters raised almost $2 million for his defense. He was three years away from securing a 20-year retirement pension when he released his first video soon after the August 26 suicide bombing at Kabul’s international airport during the rushed U.S. military withdrawal, an attack that killed 13 American military personnel and over 160 Afghan civilians.

Lt. Col. Scheller said he was willing to continue serving his time in the brig if it will give “peace of mind” to Marine Corps officials while allowing negotiations for an “honorable departure” to continue. He told supporters that the staff at the Marine Brig on Camp Lejeune are treating him well, a source said.

In one of his videos, Lt. Col. Scheller said he was considering filing a court-martial case against Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, over his handling of the Afghan endgame. Gen. McKenzie has faced tough questions on Capitol Hill about the end of the Afghan war effort and the rapid collapse of the government and U.S.-trained and equipped army.

Some Republicans in Washington have accused Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his aides of trying to purge anyone with a conservative or traditional viewpoint from the military — a charge denied by the Pentagon. But, the videos and social media posts released by Lt. Col. Scheller were not particularly partisan. He criticized Democrats and Republicans alike, including former Presidents Trump and Obama, along with a number of active-duty and retired generals, such as former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Mr. Gohmert called for the immediate release of Lt. Col. Scheller from pre-trial confinement.

“The military’s treatment of Lt. Col. Scheller has been shamefully political and retaliatory and must not be tolerated,” he said in a statement.

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