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The murder charges against Golsteyn

Posted by John T. Reed on

I just heard that the Green Beret now being pursued for murder—Matthew Golsteyn—is a West Point grad. Sorry to hear that. (I am a West Point grad and Vietnam vet.)

All of his supporters, and he seems to only have supporters, essentially say that he is a great guy and the Taliban he killed was a murderous bomb maker, therefore, he did nothing wrong.

That is not relevant to the legal case as far as I can tell.

His wife and father seem to be saying the Army can’t do this because it was investigated before and seemingly ended. Also, irrelevant. Double jeopardy is unconstitutional, but it requires a trial and verdict and prevents a second prosecution on the same charges. It does not apply to whining about multiple investigations.

Awful rules of engagement

I despise the U.S. rules of engagement since WW II. And I note that we have not won a war since WW II. I think the rules of engagement are the reason.

In my novel The Unelected President, during his first hours of being president, my President “Mike Medlock” announces a radically new rule of engagement to the world:

The Unelected President novel

Page 50 “Henceforth, when the U.S.military locates one of our military enemies, they will destroy them and their equipment, materiel, and infrastructure immediately using the smallest munition that is adequate and available without regard to the presence of hostages, human shields, or collateral damage.”

Also on page 49, “Medlock” says, 

“If you don’t want to get hurt, stay away from the Taliban and al Qaeda and any others who declare themselves to be our military enemies.”

Each of these is a radical departure from the post-WW II rules of engagement. The Taliban is even included by name. But even those radically more aggressive rules would not have authorized Golsteyn to kill the Taliban bomber as I understand the facts.

You know next to nothing about the guy you kill in combat

The mere fact that we know the guy Golsteyn killed was a bombmaker goes against Golsteyn’s defense. On the battlefield, you can kill a new enemy recruit who never hurt a flea if he is a fighter, e.g., carrying a weapon and maneuvering around in a tactical way indicating he is in a fire fight with you or about to be. You need not know his Military Occupational Specialty like bomb maker. You almost certainly would not know such things.

The problem in the Golsteyn situation is they captured the guy then released him as I understand the evidence. Golsteyn then hunted him like a police detective and killed him at the point where a detective would have arrested him.

Should not have been released

Obviously, the bomb maker should not have been released. That is on the idiot Pentagon bureaucrats. They ought to be prosecuted for stupidity and for exposing our troops to unnecessary risks.

But given the idiotic rules, upon release, the bomb maker became the Afghan equivalent of a suspect released for lack of evidence at the discretion of a prosecutor who has a limited staff and budget and can only afford to prosecute the best or more important cases.

I am not saying any such was the case here. This was stupidity. But Golsteyn had no authority to kill the guy; only to climb his chain of command complaining about the decision to release the guy. Like I said in another post, if I were in now, I would likely be court martialed for raising too much hell about the blue-on-blue risk of one of our supposed allies murdering one of my men or me. 

I DID have a court martial of sorts—an administrative hearing I think it was called and they forced me out of the Army 11 months before my five-year commitment was up. (I got an honorable discharge and severance pay.) I wanted out, but not until my commitment had been fulfilled. If you asked the colonels who did that to me back then about my risking court martial to fight against letting Afghan allies mingle with my men they would probably say, “Sure, Reed would be raising hell about that or something else.”

Unnecessary legal jeopardy

Also, Golsteyn appears to have unnecessarily put himself in legal jeopardy. The incident in question occurred in 2010. There were some investigations, but no indictment, so it would appear that the Army gave him a pass. He admitted to the killing in an interview for a CIA job.

After my experience with the Army, I wanted no part of a federal government job. Given how the federal government operated in Afghanistan when he was there, I would have asked him, “Why in the hell are you interviewing for another federal government job after you saw how SNAFU, FUBAR, and FUBB the Army was?” Especially if you have to answer questions like “Did you ever kill anyone in Afghanistan?”

He should have not killed the guy. Having killed him, he should have talked to a lawyer about it. Since there generally is no statute of limitations on murder, the lawyer would probably tell him to not ever tell anyone about it and to take the Fifth if ever asked in a formal setting. 

He all but asked for the prosecution on Brett Baier

It seemed to still have passed without prosecution even after the CIA interview. Then Golsteyn went on Brett Baier’s Special Report show on Fox News and answered a “did you kill him” question by Brett. I suspect Brett regrets asking that. Seems to me it was a Geraldo type question. Get the scoop, even if it causes an Army officer to get executed for murder of a Taliban murderer.

Then there is Golsteyn answering, “Yes.” Some would say he had to say that because of the Cadet Honor Code. That would be idiotic. Taking the Fifth is not lying; confessing to murder or something that might be prosecuted as murder is ill-advised in the extreme.

Discourage enlisting?

Some have worried that the way Golsteyn is being treated will discourage people joining the all-volunteer military. Well, duh! I certainly hope so. The solution to that is not to overlook a possible murder. It is to fix all the stupid bureaucratic rules like the one that let the bomb-maker go free after being captured.

I wish Golsteyn good luck. I hope he gets a great legal team and they get him off. And I hope all the teenagers who think war is a cool, war movie adventure will wise up. I believe we should have an all-draft military, not all volunteer.

The job of the military is to kill people in large numbers. No one should be volunteering for such a job. It is like trying to get the job of executioner at your state prison, only more dangerous to you. The Greatest Generation had it right. It is a duty, a dirty job that someone has to do. If you get drafted, you do your duty, they you get out and go back to civilian life.

Should there be a military draft?

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