In an interview Wednesday night with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the parents of Lt. Col Stuart Scheller — the active-duty Marine officer who caught viral attention after he demanded accountability from military leaders for their handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal — said their son is imprisoned for criticizing military leadership in a way they couldn’t handle.
Father Stuart Scheller Sr. said, “His crime was speaking truth to power, and power couldn’t handle it.”
“They put him under a gag order. They took away his right to post, to talk on social media, to email, to text,” Scheller Sr. told Carlson. “He shared it with America. And he knew this weekend, when he posted again and he broke his silence, that they were probably going to arrest him on Monday. So, he is a very intelligent man. He understands what’s going to happen to him.”
The Marine officer first made headlines for a video he made on August 26, the same day 13 U.S. service members were killed in a suicide bomb attack in Kabul. In that first video, Lt. Col. Scheller called on senior military leaders to accept accountability for their handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal and evacuation and said, “People are upset because their senior leaders let them down and none of them are raising their hands and accepting accountability and saying ‘we messed this up.’”
In his original video and in subsequent comments, Scheller acknowledged he could, and eventually would, lose his command position and put his military retirement in jeopardy.
In another video, Scheller said he would try to bring a court-martial case against Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), over allegations of dereliction of duty.
Over the weekend, Scheller again raised criticisms of military leadership, this time acknowledging he now did so in potential violation of a gag order. and upon arriving at work on Monday, Scheller was placed in a military brig.
“While he broke chain of command,” Scheller Sr. said, “Austin, Milley, McKenzie, they broke the chain of trust and confidence in the American people. We’re mad, we’re mad as hell. And I’m asking the American people to find your voice. Stand up, demand accountability of your Congresspeople.”
Austin, Milley and McKenzie have gone before both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees this week to testify as to the advice they gave President Joe Biden and the decisions they reached during the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Throughout the hearing today I don’t feel like they accepted accountability,” Scheller Sr. said in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Tuesday, after the first Senate hearing. “I am extremely disappointed. It’s no coincidence in my opinion that they put a gag order on him and they put him in prison the day before they had to appear in front of senators and tomorrow in front of congressmen.”
Mother Cathy Scheller also explained why accountability has been such an important issue for her son. “During our war in the last 20 years we lost around 7,000 troops. We have lost in the last 20 years between 30 up to 100,000 troops from suicide. They need that accountability. They need to know what they did mattered. So many lives can be saved on the back side by being held accountable.”
In a Tuesday interview with Carlson, Scheller’s attorney, Tony Buzzbee, said his client had been jailed without any announcement of formal charges against him.
“When somebody tried to speak out and say: look, we could have done a lot better — we owed these Marines, and sailors and Army personnel better than that — they not only told them to shut up, but when he didn’t shut up they put him in jail,” Buzzbee said of his client.