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Trump says White House is reviewing case of Green Beret accused of killing unarmed Afghan man in 2010
The case of Army Maj. Matthew Golsteyn is "now under review at the White House," the president tweeted on Saturday.
The tweet came soon after a Fox News segment highlighted the case on Saturday morning. Host Pete Hegseth claimed that Golsteyn was turned from a "military hero to enemy of the state" before interviewing his mother, Nancy, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) about recent developments.
"This is going to take President Trump doing something about this and calling this off, and looking at the Army prosecutors and lawyers and how they abuse the system to put guys like Matt in jail," said Hunter, who was indicted in Aug. 2018 on charges he used campaign funds for personal expenses (Hunter goes to trial in Jan. 2020).
"Matt deserves better than what the government is doing to him right now," Hunter said.
Golsteyn, a decorated Special Forces officer, admitted during a CIA polygraph test in 2011 that he had killed an unarmed Afghan during a 2010 deployment, after a tribal leader said the man was a bomb-maker who had killed two Marines.
Since then, he's been on legal hold that has kept him from retiring from the Army. The Army revoked his Special Forces qualification and a Silver Star he earned during that deployment due to the investigation, according to Army Times.
As Task & Purpose's Jeff Schogol previously reported:
Golsteyn believed that the Afghan man would kill the tribal leader in retribution for identifying him, so Golsteyn executed the man off base, the Washington Post reported. After initially burying the man, Golsteyn and two other soldiers later dug up the remains and burned them.
Army Criminal Investigation Command initially did not find enough evidence to charge Golsteyn, but an investigation was re-opened after the Green Beret talked about the killing during an October 2016 interview with Fox News' Bret Baier.
When Baier asked Golsteyn if he had killed the Afghan man, Golsteyn replied, "Yes."
That the killing occurred is not in dispute. The Army maintains that the man — who was captured and subsequently released due to lack of evidence against him — was murdered by Golsteyn, who said in his CIA interview that he shot him and then buried the remains in a shallow grave. Later that night, Golsteyn and two other soldiers returned and dug up the remains so they could be burned, The Washington Post reported.
Golsteyn argues that he conducted a legal ambush of the man, who he said was walking toward Taliban positions.
It's not clear what other evidence the Army has against Golsteyn. A CIA polygraph test is inadmissible in court, and other service members who were potential witnesses had previously refused to testify even after being offered immunity, the Post reported.
Prosecutors recently sought to travel to Afghanistan to speak with four people in Afghanistan about the case. The judge approved their request and ordered them to be finished within 30 days.
"We appreciate the intensifying scrutiny by the President and others of this runaway investigation and prosecution," Philip Stackhouse, Golsteyn's civilian attorney, said in a statement to Task & Purpose.
"Major Golsteyn was cleared in this incident years ago, yet the Army's secretive prosecution will violate Matt's constitutional rights if he doesn't return to a kinetic Taliban battle zone to defend himself. These betrayals leave the Golsteyn family in a state of constant uncertainty and fear."
A spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command referred Task & Purpose to The White House for questions regarding what the president meant by the case being under review. The spokesman, Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, said on Saturday that the trial is currently set to begin on Dec. 2.
Trump previously said he was reviewing the case in Dec. 2018. In a tweet at the time, which tagged Hegseth and Fox News, Trump said he was "reviewing the case of a 'U.S. Military hero,' Major Matt Golsteyn, "at the request of many."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.