The attorney for a highly decorated Army Special Forces officer says the Army is planning on charging him with murder for killing a man in Afghanistan in 2010.
Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn does not deny that he had killed a suspected Taliban bombmaker who had been held as a detainee during the bloody battle of Marja in February 2010.
He admitted during a polygraph test for a CIA interview in 2011 and later during a Fox News television interview that he had killed the unarmed Afghan man.
The suspected bombmaker was not on a list of targets that U.S. forces had been cleared to kill, according to the Washington Post, but Golsteyn contended that letting him go would have endangered the Afghans who were helping U.S. troops.
“It is an inevitable outcome that people who are cooperating with coalition forces, when identified, will suffer some terrible torture or be killed,” he said during his interview with Fox News.
Army documents -obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request- show that the Army closed its investigation due to a lack of evidence to charge him with murder and conspiracy but reopened it in 2016 after the Fox News interview.
In 2010, Golsteyn -a Captain at the time- led a team from 3rd Special Forces Group that had a unit of Marines assisting them during the Battle of Marja.
Two of the Marines, Sgt. Jeremy R. McQueary, 27, and Lance Cpl. Larry M. Johnson, 19, were killed and three more were wounded by a booby trap during the battle.
Golsteyn was allegedly told by a tribal leader the identity of the Taliban bomb maker, who also said that he was worried bomb maker would kill him for being an informant.
According to Task and Purpose, Golsteyn took the bomb maker off the base and shot him. After the man died, Golsteyn buried him but later unearthed the remains and burned them in a burn pit with the help of two soldiers.
Two days later, his actions during an 80-man mission to hunt down a shooter who almost killed a Marine on their base earned him the Silver Star -the military’s third-highest award for combat valor.
As of 2016, no service members would serve as witnesses against Golsteyn, even when investigators offered immunity from prosecution. Despite no charges being brought against him, the army stripped him of his Silver Star, his Special Forces tab, and reassigned him to be regular infantry.
This week, Golsteyn’s attorney Philip Stackhouse said it is possible that the Army is retaliating against him with plans to file a federal lawsuit to force the service to decide whether to retire or separate him.
Stackhouse told Task and Purpose, he does not know why the Army has decided to charge him because there is no new information in the case.
“If it’s true they now want to prosecute me for allegations that have already been resolved — this vindictive abuse of power must know no limit,” Golsteyn said in a statement. “My hope is that Army leadership will stop this vindictive plan and effect the retirement that is pending.”
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