Prosecutors headed to Afghanistan to interview witnesses in case of Green Beret who allegedly murdered Taliban bomb-maker

Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)

Prosecutors plan to argue that the man a former Special Forces soldier is accused of killing in February 2010 was a farmer, not a bomb-maker for the Taliban.

A military judge heard motions Monday in the case against Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who in June pleaded not guilty in the killing of an unarmed Afghan national named Rasoul. The trial is set for Dec. 2.

Golsteyn was a Green Beret captain with Fort Bragg's 3rd Special Forces Group. He contends the killing was justified under the wartime conditions in Afghanistan because the man was thought to be an insurgent who made a bomb that killed two Marines.

A prosecutor, Maj. Brent Goodwin, said Rasoul was a poor farmer with no connection to the Taliban. The man was uneducated and had no training in explosive devices, Goodwin said.

"Rasoul was not a bombmaker," Goodwin said.

Capt. Nina Hillner, a defense lawyer, said Rasoul's brother said Rasoul was a member of the Taliban.

Goodwin sought a motion to allow prosecutors to take depositions from four people in Afghanistan because they are not available to come to Fort Bragg for the trial. He said their testimony is needed to show the unlawfulness of the killing, to show that a death occurred and to corroborate statements made by Golsteyn.

Rasoul's body was dismembered and burned, Goodwin said. An agreement between the United States and Afghanistan does not include a requirement for someone to leave their country to testify in a court case, he said.

"The government does not have the capability to compel these witnesses," he said.

Hillner opposed Goodwin's request.

The prosecutors had not shown that the witnesses' testimony would be relevant or that there were exceptional circumstances that showed their depositions were needed.

"They haven't met that burden," she said.

The judge, Col. Tyesha Smith, approved the request for depositions and said they should be done within 30 days. She denied prosecutors' request for permission to depose other individuals if they showed up and said they were eyewitnesses.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Hessler, who is the assistant operations officer for Fort Bragg's Criminal Investigation Command office, testified Monday that he had interviewed Rasoul's son and cousin in Afghanistan. Hessler, who was the agent in charge of the investigation, said that he thought he was going to interview Rasoul's widow, but she was sick and the cousin showed up instead.

At the prosecutors' request, Smith ordered to keep secret the names of the people that Hessler interviewed and the names of others that prosecutors want to question.

Hessler testified Rasoul's son and cousin were both in one room when he interviewed them because there was little space at the compound where he was working. He used an interpreter and a transcript was created from a video of the interviews, he said.

The son and cousin are not able to travel to the United States because they fear retribution from the Taliban, Hessler said.

"They feared the Taliban would find out they were cooperating and talking," he said.

Also at Monday's hearing, Maj. Joseph Morman, another military prosecutor, said a CIA employee involved in the case has agreed to be interviewed by prosecutors and defense lawyers. Both will be present during the interviews and the employee will have a personal lawyer present, he said.


©2019 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.) - Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron taxis down the runway during Sentry Aloha 20-1 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 15, 2020. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Beaux Hebert)

A 26-year-old man died after he failed to surface from waters off Molokai while participating in a scuba diving tour over the weekend.

He has been identified as Duane Harold Parsley II and was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, according to the Maui Police Department.

Read More
Manzanar, the first of ten such concentration camps established by Executive Order No. 9066 on February 19, 1942. (Dorothea Lange for the War Relocation Authority)

LOS ANGELES — For decades, Japanese American activists have marked Feb. 19 as a day to reflect on one of the darkest chapters in this nation's history.

On that date in 1942, during World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized the forced removal of over 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent from their homes and businesses.

On Thursday, the California Assembly will do more than just remember.

Read More
(Air Force photo / Tech Sgt. Oneika Banks)

Kirtland Air Force Base isn't much different from the world beyond its gates when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses, a base clinical psychologist says.

Maj. Benjamin Carter told the Journal the most frequent diagnosis on the base is an anxiety disorder.

"It's not a surprise, but I anticipate about anytime in the population in America, about 20% of the population has some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder, and it's no different in the military," he said.

Leading the way among the anxiety disorders, he said, were post-traumatic stress disorder "or something like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder."

Read More
(National Archives / Marine Corps Photo / WO Obie Newcomb, Jr., November 1943)

The DNA of a niece and nephew, who never met their uncle, has helped identify the remains of the Kansas Marine who died in WWII.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Raymond Warren was identified using DNA and circumstantial evidence. Warren had been buried in a cemetery in the Gilbert Islands, where he was killed when U.S. forces tried to take secure one of the islands from the Japanese.

The Battle of Tarawa lasted from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23, 1943, and claimed the lives of 1,021 U.S. marines and sailors, more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and an estimated 1,000 Korean laborers before the U.S. troops seized control, the agency said.

Read More
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff. Sgt. Daniel Snider)

Arizona lawmakers are vowing to fight a plan by the Air Force to start retiring some of the nation's fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack jets — a major operation at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base — as part of a plan to drop some older, legacy weapon systems to help pay for new programs.

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former A-10 pilot, and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., both vowed to fight the move to retire 44 of the oldest A-10s starting this year.

During a press briefing last week, Air Force officials unveiled plans to start mothballing several older platforms, including retiring some A-10s even as it refits others with new wings.

Read More