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Green Beret charged with murdering suspected Taliban bomb-maker will finally get his day in court
Nearly a decade after he allegedly murdered an unarmed Afghan civilian during a 2010 deployment, the case of Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn is finally going to trial.
Golsteyn's court-martial on charges of premeditated murder will begin on Dec. 2 at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina, according to a Thursday news release from U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
In February 2010, Golsteyn allegedly executed an Afghan villager who an Afghan tribal leader had identified as bomb-maker who had killed two Marines earlier that month. According to the Washington Post, Golsteyn and two other soldiers later exhumed the victim's remains and burned them.
But while Army documents indicated that Golsteyn had admitted during a 2011 CIA polygraph test that he'd killed the man, it took eight years and two separate Army investigations to actually bring the decorated Special Forces officer to trial.
Following the 2011 polygraph, Army Criminal Investigative Command opened an investigation into Golsteyn's alleged admission, which civilian lawyer Philip Stackhouse dismissed as a "fantasy," per Army Times. The Army closed its investigation in 2013, and the polygraph only became public knowledge in 2015.
"At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a 'U.S. Military hero,' Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder," Trump wrote. "He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas."
Trump's announcement appeared to come in reaction to a segment by Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth that asked whether the Army was "betraying Maj. Matthew Golsteyn."
"A decorated war hero who fought for our country overseas, now a suspected war criminal," Hegseth said in opening the segment. "Former Green Beret Maj. Matt Golsteyn could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Taliban bomb maker while overseas in 2010."
Indeed, Golsteyn claimed during a February 2019 interview with Hegseth that he had "conducted an ambush" when he engaged the unarmed target.
"Over these years, what the Army – particularly this time, the United States Army Special Operations Command – seems to be intent on doing is characterizing an ambush as murder," Golsteyn said. "What Army special operators and regular Army, like infantry soldiers, have done over the last 15 years, those routine combat actions are now being characterized as murder."
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has confirmed that a nightmare scenario has come to pass: Captured ISIS fighters are escaping as a result of Turkey's invasion of Kurdish-held northeast Syria.
Turkey's incursion has led to "the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees," Esper said in a statement on Monday.
Video footage of a purported "bombing of Kurd civilians" by Turkish military forces shown on ABC News appeared to be a nighttime firing of tracer rounds at a Kentucky gun range.
The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.
On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.