October 16, 2019

Golsteyn Case Calls For Pardon

A Special Forces operator still faces trouble from the military’s justice system.

Earlier this year, we covered some cases in the military justice system that were disturbing in more ways than one. Not only were elite special-operations troops accused of serious crimes, there was also disturbing misconduct by prosecutors and investigators.

After stunning testimony during his court-martial, Eddie Gallagher was acquitted of murder charges, but he was convicted over a trophy photo he took with the corpse of an ISIS jihadi. But the case against Major Mathew Golsteyn, United States Army, is continuing.

Golsteyn was with the 3rd Special Forces Forces Group when he took out a Taliban bomb-maker. However, when he revealed some of the details later, the Obama administration tried to hang a murder case on him because he didn’t follow the overly restrictive rules of engagement. They couldn’t and Golsteyn was cleared. Despite being cleared, Barack Obama’s secretary of the Army proceeded to not only revoke a Silver Star Golsteyn had been awarded for heroic actions in Afghanistan unrelated to the allegation, he also revoked Golsteyn’s Special Forces tab.

Just the fact that there is a second go at Golsteyn reeks of double jeopardy. Or at the very least, it’s double jeopardy’s kissing cousin. Just the administrative actions alone seem to be highly prejudicial. That’s before we get to the Army’s conduct of the case.

The investigator wasn’t exactly honest about his own awards. This opens a big can of worms, to put it mildly. If the investigator wore awards he wasn’t entitled to, essentially lying about his service, then where else was he dishonest? Now come revelations that the Army prosecutors are playing fast and loose with due process.

Let’s repeat this: A Green Beret is facing criminal proceedings for taking out a Taliban bomb-maker who was responsible for the improvised explosive devices that left our troops dead, maimed, or suffering from traumatic brain injuries. Stuff like this is a great way to get people to support pulling our troops out of places like Syria and Afghanistan, even when we should be trying to keep ISIS and al-Qaida tamped down.

Why? Because when we send our troops out to fight a war, those who send them should be able to articulate to America what conditions define winning, and they also should stand by our troops when they do try to win the war. George W. Bush, notwithstanding the serious mistakes he made, had an idea of what winning the War on Terror looked like, and he articulated it. He also was willing to let the troops try to win. Obama changed things, and not for the better.

We have seen the heroes who cracked 9/11 “architect” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed get dragged before civil courts by the Gitmo Bar on behalf of al-Qaida terrorists. James Mitchell, Bruce Jessen, and others were asked to do a difficult job. They were told it was legal. It was implied this country would have their back. They were betrayed. Others, like Gina Haspel, have been smeared.

The fact is, President Donald Trump inherited a bad situation in which the ideal victory as articulated by Bush was no longer attainable. So, he laid out his victory conditions — trying to knock out the territory that ISIS held. They’re probably the best we can get, given the other problems around the world — a resurgent Russia and an increasingly aggressive China, as well as the need to deal with an out-of-control bureaucracy and other real threats to Americans’ freedoms from within.

The good news is that President Trump is reportedly reviewing the Golsteyn case. In this case, given the alleged actions of the prosecutors, a pardon may be necessary to avoid a miscarriage of military justice. But the damage done to the perception that America is determined to win the Long War may be far greater, and far harder to undo.

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