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Army already lied once about Green Beret’s killing of Taliban bomb maker

Then-Army Capt. Matthew L. Golsteyn in Afghanistan in 2010. (Office of Rep. Duncan Hunter/Released)
February 11, 2019

A new report has cast doubt in the case of Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, the Green Beret accused of murdering a Taliban bomb maker in 2010.

New details indicate that investigators incorrectly portrayed his admission in the initial investigation, leading to damaging mischaracterization, and an overall dishonest investigation, according to an exclusive Washington Post report on Saturday.

Golsteyn deployed to Iraq in 2003, then again to Afghanistan in 2009. While on the second deployment, he commanded Operational Detachment Alpha 3121, with the 3rd Special Forces Group. There, he fought in the Battle of Marja, leading his unit, dozens of U.S. Marines, and some 300 Afghan soldiers against the Taliban.

After returning home, he had aspirations of joining the CIA and deploying again in 2012.

During a recorded job interview with the CIA in 2010, Golsteyn first admitted that he’d killed a Taliban bomb maker who was responsible for the bombs that killed two other U.S. service members, and proved to be “a demonstrated threat to my guys,” Golsteyn had told investigators.

He said he believed he was obeying the rules of engagement for killing the militant due to the bomb components surrounding the man, which made him an “armed combatant.”

Afterward, he burned the body, an act customary for unclaimed bodies.

The Army began probing the incident in Oct. 2011

A U.S. Criminal Investigation Command (UCIC) agent who listened to the recording of the CIA interview claimed that Golsteyn told investigators that he and another service member escorted the bombmaker back to his home and assassinated him there, laying out a context of premeditated murder.

However, it wasn’t until a 2015 administrative hearing that Army officials later revealed that was incorrect – Golsteyn didn’t make that admission at all. They’ve even refused to release the transcript of the CIA interview that sparked the investigation to begin with.

The Army had insufficient evidence to charge Golsteyn at all, despite offering immunity to fellow soldiers in his unit, and the investigation closed in Nov. 2013.

“Over these years, what the U.S. Army seems to be intent on doing is characterizing an ambush as murder. Those routine combat actions are now being characterized as murder,” Golsteyn told Fox and Friends on Saturday.

He was cleared of wrongdoing when the Army determined he had not violated armed conflict law, but exhibited “conduct unbecoming of an officer.”

Instead of charges, the Army leveled administrative punishments against him, including “the suspension of his security clearance, the revocation of his Silver Star and Special Forces tab, and the issuing of a career-ending memorandum of reprimand,” the Washington Post noted.

The case remained closed until Golsteyn’s Oct. 2016 appearance on Fox News with Brett Baer, during which he admitted killing the bomb maker after he identified the militant as the person responsible for the bomb-making and U.S. service member deaths.

“It is an inevitable outcome that people who are cooperating with the coalition forces, when identified, will suffer some terrible torture or be killed,” Golsteyn told Baer at the time.

Now that a second investigation is underway, he faces a premeditated murder charge with potential sentences of life in prison or the death penalty. Golsteyn, his wife, and legal team have spoken out about the Army’s wrongful allegations and reopening a case that was closed despite fabricating Golsteyn’s CIA admission.

“I spent half of this hell quiet, and if there is anything I know, it’s that I will not get any semblance of due process — any ability to defend myself — if it’s not in public,” he said. “Because it’s the only thing these guys respond to. They do not obey their own rules.”

An Article 32 hearing will be held on March 14 to determine if enough evidence exists to proceed to a court-martial.