Trump Refuses To Stand By as Gov't Accuses Soldier of 'Killing a Terrorist Bomb Maker'


President Donald Trump may be up to his neck in political drama and legal concerns, but it looks like he hasn’t forgotten his role as commander in chief.

On Sunday morning, the president used Twitter to reveal that he intends to personally review the case of an Army officer who is facing serious jail time and possibly even the death penalty for an incident that happened in Afghanistan.

That man is Maj. Matt Golsteyn, a former U.S. Army Green Beret who is accused of murdering a Taliban bomb maker.

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“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 posted.

“He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas.”

Golsteyn’s case is somewhat bizarre, and has ignited a firestorm of controversy. The former Silver Star recipient and Green Beret was previously investigated by the Pentagon for a 2010 incident, but prosecutors declined to bring charges. The Army did revoke Golstey’s Silver Star, however.

Then, an interview Golsteyn gave Fox News in 2016 brought the incident back into the light and pushed the military to re-open the case.

Was Trump right to step in and personally look at this case?

“The service is again scrutinizing former Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn after he appeared in a Fox News television interview in October and acknowledged that he had killed a Taliban bombmaker who had been held as a detainee during the bloody battle of Marja in February 2010,” reported The Washington Post in December 2016.

“The suspected bombmaker was not on a list of targets that U.S. forces had been cleared to kill, according to Army documents; Golsteyn said that letting go of the insurgent meant the Taliban member could later target Afghans who are helping U.S. troops,” the newspaper reported.

Before Golsteyn killed the man, two young Marines whose unit was deployed under Golsteyn’s command were killed by an explosive booby trap.

“Army documents show that Golsteyn’s unit launched a search for bombmaking supplies in the area after the deaths of [Marines] Johnson and McQueary, and detained the man Golsteyn confessed to killing,” The Post stated.

“During Golsteyn’s interview with the CIA, according to Army investigators, he described taking the bombmaker off the base, shooting him and burying his remains in a shallow grave,” the newspaper added. However, the officer’s attorney has disputed that version of what happened.

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Observers are now asking a key question: Was the chain of events all in the line of duty, or did the decorated Special Forces operative wrongfully execute an enemy combatant as revenge for his men?

Many veterans and public officials have rallied to Golsteyn’s defense, and insisted that the incident was a legitimate — if unpleasant — part of war, especially a war against a ruthless guerilla enemy like the Taliban.

“Matt Golsteyn is an American hero. Matt Golsteyn does for the American people what we ask him to do, and the Army is screwing him again,” U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, an outspoken California Republican, told the Post for the 2016 account. “I’m embarrassed for the U.S. Army — and they ought to be embarrassed.”

“I think he’s been betrayed,” the former soldier’s attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, told Fox News last week.

Trump’s involvement may muddy the waters, but could also provide the pressure to ensure that justice — one way or the other — is served.

At the very least, the announcement that he is looking at the matter shows that the commander in chief is taking the fate of America’s men and women in uniform seriously … And no matter the outcome of this case, that’s something to be applauded.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.