Rep. Waltz to Newsmax: Marines Being ‘Heavy-Handed,’ Politicizing,’ Scheller Case

Rep. Waltz to Newsmax: Marines Being 'Heavy-Handed,' Politicizing,' Scheller Case (Newsmax/"American Agenda")

By Charles Kim | Tuesday, 05 October 2021 06:28 PM

Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., told Newsmax Tuesday that the U.S. Marine Corps was acting in a “heavy-handed” way and “politicizing” the case of Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller Jr., who went on social media to criticize military leaders handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

“It is longstanding policy that while in uniform, you can't publicly criticize your chain of command. One could imagine a situation where someone in uniform was criticizing (former) President (Donald) Trump, or their chain of command. That's an issue,” Walt said during “American Agenda” Tuesday.

“What I don't understand is this heavy handed, draconian, ‘just throw the book’ at this colonel, who by all accounts has served his country honorably for his entire career. I've seen when this has happened in the past, it is (usually) some kind of slap on the wrist, or administrative action, but going after his pension, going after his livelihood, now going for a full court martial seems to me to be, you know. something else is going on here and we need to get to the bottom of what it is. That looks highly political.”

Scheller criticized the way military leaders handled the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, a move that caused a chaotic last-minute airlift of thousands of Americans, third country nationals, and Afghan refugees from the airport in Kabul after Taliban forces took over the capital city on Aug, 14, and also led to the deaths of 13 military personnel following a suicide terrorist attack at one of the airport gates by ISIS-K on Aug. 26, and a botched retaliatory U.S. drone strike that ended up killing 10 innocent people including seven children.

He was removed from his command three days before retiring and ended up in the brig at Camp Lejune in North Carolina while awaiting a military court martial for his actions.

The military released him from the brig Tuesday prior to a hearing about his pre-trial detention.

“An IRO hearing was scheduled to review Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller’s pre-trial detention at 1:30 p.m. today. The Marine Corps refused to provide an open hearing or to record the hearing. Media outlets objected and asked that the hearing be delayed to allow for action in federal court,” a statement from Scheller’s legal team Tuesday said.

"Prior to the hearing, the Marine Corps agreed to release Lt. Col. Scheller pending trial by court martial. Lt. Col. Scheller remains subject to the unlawful gag order previously issued by his commander Col. David Emmel. Lt. Col. Scheller has submitted a request for redress regarding the unlawful order to his command. The command has not yet replied to the request. (He) has submitted a request for resignation of his commission in lieu of trial to the Secretary of the Navy. Numerous members of Congress have urged the Secretary to accept this request. (He) appreciates the support of the American people, his legal team, family and friends who have stood by him, members of Congress, the Pipe Hitter Foundation, and the Marines,” the statement continued.

Waltz said he was sure such a high-profile case would be known to the top leaders at the Department of Defense, and while they would likely defer to the Marine commanders to resolve the situation fairly, what they are doing seems to be heavy-handed and “discordant” with what is happening now.

“What most Americans are looking at is then you compare that to what's going on where we have senior leaders in the military talking to highly politicized journalists, and book authors, that are known to be criticizing the chain of command, doing it from their official position,” Waltz said. “Like what we saw from the (Joint Chiefs of Staff) Chairman (Mark Milley,) and it just looks like completely uneven justice in the backdrop of this botched Afghanistan withdrawal, where no one's been held accountable, no one is even apologizing, much less stood up and said, ‘I screwed up.’ That, I think, that's what has people rightly so enraged.”

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