If a Green Beret Is a War Criminal, then So Is Obama

One would think that in war the duty of a soldier is to kill the enemy before he kills you or your fellow soldiers. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are different in that the enemy doesn’t usually obey the rules of war, like wearing uniforms and rank insignia, and there are no “front lines” per se, only improvised explosive devices and sniper fire from second-floor windows or civilians used as human shields.

That is where Mathew Golsteyn found himself in 2010 when the Green Beret killed a Taliban bomb-maker who had  killed two Marines, Sgt. Jeremy R. McQueary and Lance Cpl. Raymon A. Johnson,  in a war where only one side obeys the rules and the other is trapped by rules of engagement that make no sense and an Obama administration treating the whole thing as a law enforcement matter:

Golsteyn, in 2010, had been deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Special Forces Group. During the Battle of Marja, two Marines in his unit ended up getting killed by booby-trapped explosives hidden in the area, and Golsteyn and his men later located the suspected Taliban bomb maker.

But there was a problem: the alleged terrorist was not on a list of targets U.S. forces were cleared to kill, Fox News previously has reported. After the man was detained, Golsteyn said the suspect refused to talk to investigators.

Under the rules of engagement, Golsteyn was ordered to release him. However, Golsteyn was concerned that if he did so, the suspect would have in turn targeted Afghans who were helping U.S. soldiers…

Golsteyn told Fox News he ended up killing the suspected Taliban bombmaker -- although details of where and when the killing occurred are in dispute. Two years later, he's facing a murder charge for it.

“Major Mathew Golsteyn's immediate commander has determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant the preferral of charges against him,” U.S. Army Special Operations Command spokesman Lt. Col. Loren Bymer told Fox News in a statement Friday. “Major Golsteyn has been charged with the murder of an Afghan male during his 2010 deployment to Afghanistan.”

If the bomb-maker had been targeted with a drone strike, would that have been murder? Does not being on official kill list make it murder? Yet killing suspected terrorists and those who made war on America and its allies from high altitude was an official policy of the Obama administration, most notably resulting in the death of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki , the 16-year-old son of terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki:

Cornered by reporters with video cameras, former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to President Obama's reelection campaign, attempted to defend the kill list that the Obama Administration uses to determine whose body should next be blown apart. American drone strikes have resulted in hundreds of dead innocents in the last four years, even as the program has killed a number of high-level al Qaeda terrorists…

Asked how their kill list can be justified, Gibbs replies that "When there are people who are trying to harm us, and have pledged to bring terror to these shores, we've taken that fight to them."…

He was the son of Anwar al-Awlaki, who was also born in America, who was also an American citizen, and who was killed by drone two weeks before his son was, along with another American citizen named Samir Khan. Of course, both Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were, at the very least, traitors to their country -- they had both gone to Yemen and taken up with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al-Awlaki had proven himself an expert inciter of those with murderous designs against America and Americans: the rare man of words who could be said to have a body count. When he was killed, on September 30, 2011, President Obama made a speech about it; a few months later, when the Obama administration's public-relations campaign about its embrace of what has come to be called "targeted killing" reached its climax in a front-page story in the New York Times that presented the President of the United States as the last word in deciding who lives and who dies, he was quoted as saying that the decision to put Anwar al-Awlaki on the kill list -- and then to kill him -- was "an easy one."

So, no doubt, was Mathew Golsteyn’s decision not to wait till he was added to a “kill list” to kill the Taliban bomb-maker before he could kill more American soldiers. But why wasn’t he charged with murder in 2011 when he took a polygraph test for a job at the CIA and volunteered the information?

The US Army launched a criminal investigation into the incident in 2011 but no formal charges were filed at the time because of a lack of physical evidence, military officials said.

In 2014 Major Golsteyn was stripped of his Silver Star medal, the third highest award for valor in the US military, and received an official reprimand for his actions.

Yet he was not charged with murder in 2011. Would it have jeopardized the reelection chances of President Obama in 2012 to have a Green Beret charged with murder while you are using drones to kill other bomb-makers from high altitude? So why charge him now? Has the military justice system become as corrupted by political correctness as the civilian version, and come to embrace the liberal notion that terrorists are not enemy combatants but merely civilians who need to be read their Miranda rights? 

Few are rushing to Mathew Golsteyn’s defense as they did with  deserter Bowe Bergdahl, with Obama willingly trading terrorist Taliban leaders who slaughter Americans for such a traitor, and welcoming and consoling Bergdahl’s parents at the White House while he ignored Bergdahl’s desertion in the heat of battle in Afghanistan.

Golsteyn's mission was to support Marine and Afghan forces by targeting Taliban command, logistic, and intelligence units. As allied forces struggled to win government control over central-northern Helmand province, Moshtarak saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the Afghan war. He had seen his comrades die, blown apart by bombs such as those made by the bomb-maker he killed. Unlike Obama, he was reluctant to put a Taliban killer back on the battlefield to kill again. Like Obama, he killed a terrorist in wartime without a trial. The only difference is that Obama used drones from high altitude firing missiles to which no Miranda warning had been attached.

President Trump is right to say he will investigate this prosecution of an American war hero. Mathew Golsteyn should be pardoned, then invited to the White House with his parents to receive the thanks of a grateful nation.

Daniel John Sobieski is a free lance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.               

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