Mat­tis seen as hope to clear sol­dier who killed bomb maker

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

A war vet­eran con­gress­man is cit­ing the words of De­fense Sec­re­tary-des­ig­nate James Mat­tis in a bid to stop the Army’s rein­ves­ti­ga­tion of a Green Beret in the killing of an Afghan Tal­iban bomb maker.

Maj. Matt Gol­steyn was in­ves­ti­gated once but not charged. How­ever, the Army has re­opened the crim­i­nal probe based on state­ments he made in an in­ter­view with Fox News.

Rep. Dun­can Hunter, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can and a for­mer Marine Corps of­fi­cer, wrote to the Army lead­er­ship.

“Ma­jor Matt Gol­steyn is an Amer­i­can hero, and his ex­pe­ri­ence calls to at­ten­tion another hero, re­tired Gen­eral James Mat­tis and some­thing he said: ‘There are some ass­holes in the world that just need to be shot.’ I know you agree that a known Afghan bomb-maker with the blood of Amer­i­can ser­vice mem­bers on his hands fits into that cat­e­gory,” the con­gress­man wrote to Army Sec­re­tary Eric Fan­ning and Gen. Mark A. Mil­ley, Army chief of staff.

Re­tired Marine Corps Gen. Mat­tis is nick­named “Mad Dog” for his ag­gres­sive ap­proach to killing the enemy and win­ning bat­tles. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump has picked him as his de­fense sec­re­tary to de­vise a strat­egy to quickly de­stroy the Islamic State ter­ror­ist group.

In a Dec. 7 let­ter, Mr. Hunter noted that a board of in­quiry al­ready had looked into the killing of the maker of im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices, which have killed more Amer­i­cans in Afghanistan than any other weapons. This Afghan was be­lieved to have killed at least two en­listed Marines. The board did not find Maj. Gol­steyn guilty of a war crime but of con­duct un­be­com­ing an of­fi­cer. It rec­om­mended a gen­eral dis­charge un­der hon­or­able con­di­tions.

Maj. Gol­steyn’s post-Afghanistan prob­lems be­gan when he in­formed the CIA dur­ing a poly­graph job in­ter­view that he had killed the IED pro­ducer. The CIA in­formed the Army, and the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Com­mand launched a probe.

John M. McHugh, Army sec­re­tary at the time, stripped the Green Beret of his pend­ing Silver Star. Maj. Gol­steyn was re­moved from the Green Beret cadre and set for a less-than-hon­or­able dis­charge.

“The Army in­ves­ti­ga­tion demon­strated that Maj. Gol­steyn’s ser­vice dur­ing or af­ter the time of the dis­tin­guished act, achieve­ment or mer­i­to­ri­ous ser­vice was not hon­or­able,” Mr. McHugh told Mr. Hunter.

Maj. Gol­steyn’s Silver Star ci­ta­tion showed that he re­peat­edly risked his life to save his men as his for­ward op­er­at­ing base came un­der sniper fire in Fe­bru­ary 2010. He or­ga­nized a Green Beret/ Marine/Afghan team to leave the rel­a­tive safety of the base and hunt and kill the snipers.

“Cap­tain Gol­steyn was alone run­ning in the open through enemy gun­fire that had over 80 men pinned down, and from the crow’s nest on top of FOB McQueary it looked like Cap­tain Gol­steyn was alone fight­ing 30 enemy fight­ers out in the poppy fields,” the award for valor says.

“With bla­tant dis­re­gard for his own per­sonal safety, Cap­tain Gol­steyn ex­posed him­self again to heavy enemy fire and moved 200 me­ters from the cen­ter of the pa­trol to the east­ern flank in or­der to es­tab­lish a po­si­tion of ad­van­tage from which to en­gage the enemy,” the nar­ra­tive says.

Then-Capt. Gol­steyn later en­coun­tered the IED maker sus­pected of killing two Marines, took him into cus­tody and killed him. The Army says the act vi­o­lated the laws of armed con­flict, but the CID probe did not re­sult in crim­i­nal charges.

The CIA pro­vided the Gol­steyn tran­script to the CID and the board of in­quiry. It also let a CID agent view the video of the in­ter­view, to which the agent tes­ti­fied at the board of in­quiry. Maj. Gol­steyn’s men re­fused to tes­tify against him at the board.

Maj. Gol­steyn’s sup­port­ers say the CID al­ready had him on tape ad­mit­ting to the killing and won­der why another in­ves­ti­ga­tion should be opened. From the CID’s per­spec­tive, the CIA has re­fused to co­op­er­ate in a crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion, which means the tran­script and the video might not be ad­mis­si­ble at trial.

Then came the Fox News in­ter­view in Oc­to­ber. When asked by an­chor Bret Baier whether he killed the bomb maker, Maj. Gol­steyn an­swered, “Yes.”

Now the Army has Maj. Gol­steyn’s own words to use against him via the Fox in­ter­view.

The Wash­ing­ton Post ob­tained Army doc­u­ments from the first probe un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act. The doc­u­ments said the sol­dier told the CIA that he “couldn’t live with him­self” if the bomb maker killed more Amer­i­can troops. Af­ter a tribal leader iden­ti­fied the man as a Tal­iban mem­ber, Maj. Gol­steyn took him off base, shot him and buried his re­mains. He later burned them in a trash pit.

Mr. Hunter’s of­fice main­tains that the Tal­iban bomb maker was an “enemy com­bat­ant” and that the killing was law­ful.

In his Dec. 7 let­ter to the two Army lead­ers, Mr. Hunter said: “Gol­steyn is an Amer­i­can hero — a true war­rior, in fact. Why the Army is hell-bent on de­stroy­ing a com­bat hero’s ca­reer is truly as­ton­ish­ing. I’m con­fi­dent that Army CID has more im­por­tant things to [do] than in­ves­ti­gate Gol­steyn again, and you both have the abil­ity to fix this stu­pid­ity.”

In a hand­writ­ten note, the for­mer Marine said, “Gentle­men, come on! This is a joke. I’m sure you have more im­por­tant stuff to do. This is get­ting old.”

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