The parents of Lt. Col Stuart Scheller, a Marine officer being held in military prison for violating a social media gag order, have called for the resignations of Mark Milley, United States Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Hours after Milley and Austin faced tough questioning from senators about the hasty U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Marine’s parents, Cathy and Stuart Sr. Scheller, lamented their son’s imprisonment for critizing the exit from Afghanistan on social media.
“The only one being held accountable for this botched situation is my son, by the generals,” Scheller’s father told Fox News host Laura Ingraham, reported The Daily Mail.
“While Stuart broke the chain of command, General McKenzie and General Milley and Secretary Austin broke the chain of trust and confidence of the American people. For that, they should be embarrassed,” Scheller Sr. said to Ingraham.
“They should resign for that.”
“Today’s hearing showed they won’t accept accountability for the mistakes they made. They wanted to blame everybody else — the Afghan military, the Afghan government, the weather, whoever,” he added.
“We want them to resign and we want Stuart released,” said mother Cathy. “We would like him to have his pension reinstated and his hard-earned medical benefits that he will need after his many deployments. If they won’t do that, at least release him and let him out of the Marines.”
Scheller, based in North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, posted a video criticizing superiors on Aug. 26, the same day that 13 U.S. service members were killed in Kabul.
He has continued to post videos and controversial statements on Facebook. On Saturday, he posted a message that he said he had received from commanders, stating: “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.”
He went on to criticize several current and retired generals across the military service branches, concluding with: “Please have the MPs waiting for me at 0800 on Monday. I’m ready for jail.”
On Monday, his father revealed that his son had indeed been sent to military prison, known as “the brig,” where he is being held as he awaits a military hearing for breaking the gag order set by his superior officers.
The Marine Corps later issued a statement confirming Scheller had been imprisoned awaiting a military hearing and would receive a fair trial.
Scheller, who was relieved of his command after his initial criticism of the evacuations, is being accused of showing contempt toward officials, willfully disobeying a superior officer, failing to obey lawful orders, and committing conduct unbecoming of an officer.
Cathy Scheller, meanwhile, said that her son is being held in solitary confinement and has yet to be given a trial date or be charged with any crime under the UCMJ or other laws. She added that he has been unable to contact them, save for a short phone call on Tuesday in which he asked her to call his lawyer.
Scheller Jr. has gained sympathy from veterans who shared his frustration about Afghanistan. But his public questioning of the chain of command while still an active service member is viewed by some in the military as “an act of unwarranted defiance” and a challenge against civilian control over the armed forces, the Washington Post noted.
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