UncoverDC has previously reported on Marine Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller’s demand for accountability from “American leadership” involved in military activity in Afghanistan. Scheller singled out Central Command (CENTCOM) Chief General Frank McKenzie accusing him of dereliction of duty resulting in the death of 13 servicemembers during the evacuation at the airport in Kabul. He announced he is bringing forth charges against CG McKenzie under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ.)
Many criticized the implementation of the evacuation plan, including those who otherwise welcomed the withdrawal from Afghanistan—a country the U.S. military occupied for two decades. Lt. Col. Scheller’s initial video statement voiced that sentiment, and it went viral.
A second Lt. Col. Scheller video conspicuously featured a chessboard with its pieces arranged in a position well known as “The Trompowsky Attack,” and multiple statements that followed contained commonly understood chess notation, spurring speculation as to any code, riddle, or meaning that might be behind it.
After telling followers he had been advised by “lawyers, family/friends, and the teams of people trying to push [him] into different directions following [his] military career” to stop making public statements, Lt. Col Scheller continued to participate on social media. Scheller released two videos to his YouTube account and posted statements on Facebook and LinkedIn.
In a September 10 video titled “united WE stand,” Lt. Col. Scheller thanked his supporters and apologized to both his lawyer and to a team of people who have political aspirations for him for making another video. While reiterating that he is “not religious,” he again called for “accountability from senior leaders” that he said he still has not received and references an internal voice leading him, saying “something [is] working through me. I don’t know how to put words to it.”
Lt. Col. Scheller continued:
“I feel like I’ve evolved [since my first video]. After I made that video, I felt like the organization that I love and some of the people I trust the most turned their backs on me. I was just filled with rage. I still stand by everything I said in that video, but I was very angry and I acknowledge that. Then it felt like everyone wanted to attack me with projecting PTSD or saying that I was having a breakdown, I was suicidal, I had to go get [a] mental evaluation because I feel like that was easier for them to understand than me just being principled in my stance and very angry. Then I had two days where it felt like everything was being taken from me and my whole world was imploding. I got even more emotional and then when I got through that and my rage dissipated, I was just filled with pain and sadness, and I actually cried, like a little bitch cry, and it’s embarrassing really.”
With a stack of scholarly books in front of him, he tells a story of an experience in Afghanistan he found meaningful, concluding, “We all acknowledge that there’s something in us that wants to connect to the greater good,” and “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s fear.” He then references 9/11, saying the response to it was borne in fear. “Love is not absent of war, but you can’t go to war based on fear. That’s what we’re missing. And right now, we had a 20-year war that just ended, and we didn’t even pause. On bases all across the United States, you wouldn’t even know it because we’re preparing for the next thing, the fear of the next enemy.”
After a long pause, Lt. Col. Scheller continues:
“General officers for the last 20 years have given bad advice consistently, and none of them have been held accountable. I do not believe the American people are as divided as much as you think they are. The people in the establishment right now currently have the power because we allow it to happen. There is change upon us. I love and respect all people with different opinions. I possess the ability to inflict violence. I am asking for accountability of my senior leaders. I love the Constitution, I love America, I love Americans. I love my family, and I believe in myself, and I believe in a higher power. Maybe on 9/11, twenty years later, we as a nation can come together based on mutual respect and love, and then when we do that, there is no stopping us.”
A statement that came soon after shows screenshots of text messages, presumably received after uploading that video, that we have included below. They show a conversation with an unknown person who called him “brother” and said, “I want to make you a congressman and the presidency one day.” The person tells Lt. Col. Scheller, “Take down the video. Grainy cell footage is not a great look. We have assets to make better quality video and with a script,” and “This could adversely affect our exit strategy.”
The screenshot of that conversation is accompanied by a public response from Lt. Col. Scheller. On September 16, Lt. Col. Scheller uploaded another video, this time in uniform, and titled, ‘Accountability. VR/US.’ He made the following statements:
“I am still, as I am making this message, a United States Marine Infantry Officer. To recap my position in the fallout of Afghanistan, I demanded accountability in my senior leaders. I stated then that I understood that I might lose my Battalion Commander Seat, my retirement, and my family stability. As it has been playing out, I have, in fact, lost all three of those things. Would I do it again? I don’t know. But I can explain to you why I made that decision at that moment.
I was seeing key leaders that weren’t being held accountable and were abusing their positions of power at the expense of the everyday American. Everything that I fought for is counter to that. The future that my sons are going to grow up in is contingent upon the organization being able to evolve, which only happens through accountability.
Update on my legal situations. The marine corps has offered me a very fair deal. Instead of court-martial, they’ve offered me non-judicial punishment for violation of two articles, as long as I’m willing to resign my commission, give up my retirement, and accept a general discharge under honorable conditions. The deal hasn’t been signed. I haven’t agreed to it, neither have they. I acknowledge that making this video might destroy that deal. If the Marine Corps, after this video, decides they want to go in a different direction, I am prepared to go in that direction, see where it goes.
Believe it or not, I don’t want to start controversy. I didn’t make it 17 years in the Marine Corps and as a Battalion Commander by saying whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. But as I sat here and looked at the fundamental changes that needed to take place in our key organizations, I just didn’t see anyone else speaking up. To all the retired generals that wrote a very strongly worded letter to the current military establishment asking for resignations, I ask that those General Officers show themselves, be prepared to give up their retirement, and fight with me.”
Lt. Col. Scheller called out Central Command Commander General Frank McKenzie as an example of one who has not faced accountability. While Secretary of State Antony Blinken was called to testify on September 13 and 14 about the Afghanistan withdrawal, General McKenzie was not.
“Afghanistan has been a DoD-run and led mission for the last 20 years. Why the Department of State is taking the face shots in the fall is beyond me.”
Lt. Col. Scheller takes time in the video to explicitly address General McKenzie directly:
“Sir. You made comments that are public record on August 31st that stated you made bad assumptions, that you left hundreds of Americans in Afghanistan. Then you itemized pieces of equipment that total hundreds of millions of dollars. I know you are a great American. I know you didn’t intend to fail. I know you have served very honorably and are probably a great leader. That doesn’t absolve you from the accountability of your bad assumptions.”
Scheller goes on to explain what he has planned next:
“I read the entire UCMJ the last two weeks of my purgatory… it turns out that all military officers are subject to UCMJ. Because it appears to me that no General Officers are willing to hold each other accountable, I am submitting charges against General McKenzie for his bad assumptions. Not because I’m vindictive, but because the senior leaders need to be held accountable to the same standard as us.”
Later in the video, Scheller explains that he is starting a foundation to raise money for his family and legal fees for the legal argument he’s making against McKenzie, promising the website link by Monday, September 20.
Along with the September 16 video, Lt. Col. Scheller posted the following, his first with a chess move signature since our last reporting:
“One Nation. Under God. Indivisible. With LIBERTY and JUSTICE for all. Social media is the last place of unvarnished truth. To all the trolls trying to divide us. We are smarter than you realize. The founding fathers wanted a marketplace of ideas. They assumed we would be smart enough to think through all the noise. We believe the very place where you try to divide us will be the place we unite. To all the Marines and military members who have been threatened to not like or share my content. I only ask that you do what you believe to be in the best interest of your nation, family, and personal situation. We can’t all be wrong. To all the people who have offered me PR/speech writing/and messaging support. Thanks, but no thanks. I prefer the unvarnished truth. #authenticamericans
Later that same day, he posted another screenshot of text messages. These, he says, are from “The senior USMC defense attorney on the east coast.” Scheller also posts, “Imagine a LCpl trying to press charges against a senior officer. What chance does he have? We can’t all be wrong.”
Again that same day, Lt. Col. Scheller posted charges he says he plans to drop against General McKenzie. Lt. Col. Scheller accuses General McKenzie of dereliction of duty inasmuch as he “failed to supervise the withdrawal of the United States Forces from Afghanistan, as it was his duty to do.” Lt. Col. Scheller claims General McKenzie is therefore responsible for the deaths of the 13 fellow U.S. service members at the Hamid Karzai airport in Kabul.
General McKenzie is quoted by CENTCOM Public Affairs / Communication Integration department as saying on August 17 that he “saw firsthand” a “secure” airfield at the Taliban-controlled airport. This statement came prior to the reported airport gate attack, widely attributed to suicide bombers, that killed 13. Lt. Col. Scheller names them:
Lance Corporal David Espinoza, United States Marine Corps
Sergeant Nicole Gee, United States Marine Corps
Staff Sergeant Darin Taylor Hoover, United States Marine Corps
Sergeant Ryan Knauss, United States Army
Corporal Hunter Lopez, United States Marine Corps
Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum, United States Marine Corps
Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola, United States Marine Corps
Lance Corporal Kareem Nikoui, United States Marine Corps
Corporal Daegan William-Tyeler, United States Marine Corps
Sergeant Johanny Rosario, United States Marine Corps
Corporal Humberto Sanchez, United States Marine Corps
Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, United States Marine Corps
Hospital Corpsman Max Soviak, United States Navy
With Lt. Col. Scheller’s new postings, we have one new chess move to consider: bxc4. Here is the chess position that results from taking the initial ‘Trompowsky Attack’ and adding the subsequent moves as instructions, with no assumptions:
Assuming chess rules hold throughout Scheller’s game, three of black’s moves are still not provided. Moving the king side knight out to f6 was the first move for black, followed by moving the queen’s pawn forward two spaces to d5, matching white’s pawn on d4. We know this because it was shown on the initial position board in Scheller’s second video. We are logically certain that black’s d5 pawn took the white pawn on c4—otherwise, Scheller’s newest move, bxc4, would make no sense, as there would be no piece to capture on that square.
Here are just some of the reasonable moves by black that are yet unknown:
The three moves by black that we don’t know are in addition to whatever move might follow Scheller’s latest bxc4. We can narrow down the possibilities and eliminate the impossible as with a logic problem. Then we can analyze what might be most likely—but it is not yet clear whether that exercise would allow for rationally drawing any solid conclusion to apply to reality. Further, each additional unknown move brings exponential growth of possibility, rapidly making accurate deduction of the correct resulting board position unlikely. If one needs to go further to parse and interpret entendre in Scheller’s speech, as internet speculation among the idle are prone to do, the permutations become infinite, and certainty would be impossible.