Maj. Matthew Golsteyn in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of Philip Stackhouse.)
The Army will take Maj. Matthew Golsteyn's case to trial by court-martial on charges of premeditated murder at a date not yet determined, according to a release from U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
President Donald Trump's affection for the military runs so deep that he has repeatedly served as an advocate for service members accused or convicted of murder.
Not only has he pardoned a former Army lieutenant who was convicted of killing an Iraq detainee, the president has also voiced support for two other service members accused of murder while their cases are still pending.
On May 6, the president pardoned Michael Behenna, who had served prison time after being convicted of killing an Iraqi detainee in 2008. Oklahoma's attorney general had requested a pardon for Behenna last year, arguing that prosecutors had withheld evidence supporting Behenna's claim that he killed the detainee in self-defense, according to the Associated Press.
While the president acted within his Constitutional powers, he also risks creating the impression that the United States condones war crimes, said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rachel VanLandingham, a former military attorney who now teaches at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.
"Killing a prisoner you've stripped naked and threatened with a gun ain't a moral or lawful act: It's murder," VanLandingham told Task & Purpose. "One pardon of such a war crime isn't a pattern, and hopefully such pardon will be the only such condonation of a war crime that many, many other soldiers and Marines and sailors in Behanna's shoes had greater moral courage and integrity not to commit."