Mat’s Story

Mathew Golsteyn, a Major from the 3rd Special Forces Group in Fort Bragg, NC, was charged with premeditated murder by the Headquarters and Headquarters Company Commander LTC Todd Sunday on 12DEC18.  The series of events leading to the preferral of charges began when Major Golsteyn was deployed to Afghanistan in January of 2010 and returned from that deployment to seek employment within the Ground Branch of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  He is represented by his attorney Phillip Stackhouse who first joined the case in December of 2011.

                Major Golsteyn (referred to as MG) was recruited and ultimately hired by the CIA; however, statements made during a polygraph administered by the CIA during the employment process were passed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Secretary of the Army [1], the latter of which directed  the Army Criminal Investigative Division (CID) to review [2].  These statements were in response to a line of questioning about the engagement of unarmed persons.  Neither the memorandum from the CIA Office of General Counsel [1] nor the request for investigation from CID headquarters to the Ft. Bragg CID office [2] used the terms ‘detainee’, ‘civilian’, ‘noncombatant’, ‘ROE violation’, ‘war crime’, ‘confession’ or ‘admissions’.  The investigation, which began on 10/3/2011, concluded on 11/27/2013 [3] shortly after the Army’s response to the formal inquiry made by Congressman Duncan Hunter, represented by his then Chief of Staff Joe Kasper, and Congressman Adam Kizinger [4].  Although the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) CPT Lori Lincoln found probable cause existed to charge MG with murder and conspiracy, no charges were filed until the conclusion of the second investigation five years later.

                Over the subsequent 18 months following the conclusion of the first CID investigation, MG was administratively punished by: 1) a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMOR) [5]; 2) the revocation of his Special Forces Tab [6]; 3) the suspension of his security clearances [7]; 4) the revocation of his interim Silver Star Medal and upgrade to the Distinguished Service Cross [8]; and 5)  administrative separation [9] initiated by the Army G-1 Major General Richard Mustion.  These punishments were based on reports written by CID agents who watched a video of MG’s interview with the CIA.  A verbatim transcript was never created by investigators.  After receiving the administrative separation packet, MG elected to request a formal Board of Inquiry (BOI) to contest the allegations made against him.  The BOI presented the first opportunity for MG and his legal counsel to view the CID investigation which the Army used to justify the punitive actions taken against him.[PS1] [GM2] 

                Arguments at the BOI closed after six days of testimony.  The prosecution’s case was based on four witnesses and a transcript of his polygraph interview [10] which was created at the direction of MG’s attorney in the months leading up to the BOI.  The CID investigative lead (SA Adam Armstrong), the 3rd SFG(A) SJA (MAJ Edward Martin), and two individuals from the 3rd SFG(A) legal office comprised the prosecution’s witnesses; all were present to testify to the video contents of the CIA interview. The prosecution elected to not enter the CID investigation into evidence despite making references to the punishments upon which they say were justified [11].  On cross examination, the SA Armstrong admitted to critical misrepresentations of MG’s CIA interview [12].  On cross examination, MAJ Martin admitted to knowing nothing about the contents of the investigation and that he was biased to believe MG committed murder.  The defense consisted of nearly two dozen witnesses.  To augment testimony from Major Golsteyn’s teammates, the defense offered expert testimony on the Rules of Engagement and the Laws of Armed Conflict [13] as well as testimony from Major Golsteyn’s immediate commanding officers in Afghanistan [13].  With the full contents of the CIA transcript, defense testimony consistently showed that Major Golsteyn’s actions, as described in the transcript, did not violate the ROE or the LOAC.  Prior to breaking for deliberations, the prosecution was unprepared to produce a charge sheet for the three-member panel to consider during deliberations because it had not been done.  After being directed to create this document, the board entered into deliberations with two charges: 1) the war crime of murder and 2) conduct unbecoming of an officer.  Prior to breaking for deliberations, the board followed the legal advisor’s opinion that the two charges were linked in that the conduct unbecoming charge referred to the conduct of war crimes.  Inexplicably, the board found that Major Golsteyn had committed conduct unbecoming of an officer while being acquitted of the allegations of murder, war crimes, and violating the rules of engagement.  The Army would later reopen the BOI in April of 2016 for the sole purpose of specifying the conduct which the board found unbecoming of an officer [14].  The panel members produced a hand-written paragraph which amounted to a new allegation of a ‘failure to report’.

                After the BOI concluded in June of 2015, the Army’s Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) found numerous injuries that disqualified Major Golsteyn from continued active duty service and eligible for medical retirement on 01FEB16 [15, 16].  The Army had the ability, either by force, retirement, or a willing resignation, to facilitate Major Golsteyn’s departure from military service over a three-year period ranging from the close of the first investigation until the start of the second.  Unfortunately, the Army’s decision to not act on the findings from either the BOI or the MEB made is abundantly clear that the Army had no intention of allowing Major Golsteyn to depart active duty service.  As a result, Major Golsteyn requested excess voluntary leave on 7/15/2016 so that he could seek civilian employment and rebuild his life.  The Army approved his request and Major Golsteyn was subsequently employed as the Chief of Operations for the International Association of Fire Fighters in Washington, D.C on 9/17/2016.  He has since moved to Virginia and remarried to his wife Julie.  Currently, he is the father of a 12-year-old son Joshua and a 3 month old son Henry.

                Subsequent to a televised interview with Bret Baier on Fox News, a second investigation was opened in November 2016 headed by Special Agent Mark Delacruz.  Based on the discovery received by the defense, the last investigative activity was logged in September 2017.  The investigation remained dormant until June 2018 when the outgoing USASOC commander, LTG Kenneth Tovo, issued an order to return Major Golsteyn to Fort Bragg based on ‘new evidence’ uncovered in the investigation.  At that point, the investigation had been dormant for nine months.  In the nine preceding months of activity, the investigation’s only contribution to the 1st investigation and BOI was the a transcribed copy of the Fox News interview.  It uncertain what prompted the order from LTG Tovo before he left active service and it is less clear why the order was not followed.  Suddenly, around 27 September 2019, SA Delacruz claimed to have found a family member of the alleged victim who could provide testimony in the case.  The identity of this Afghan was concealed behind a protective order. Subsequently, LTG Beaudette reissued the order from LTG Tovo ordering Major Golsteyn to return to Fort Bragg on 10 December 2019.  On 12 December 2019, LTC Todd Sunday preferred charges of premeditated murder against Major Golsteyn.  

                In January 2019, the defense team uncovered that SA Delacruz had been removed from the case in October 2018 under suspicion of unethical conduct.  The prosecution made no attempt to notify the defense and appeared to be actively concealing SA Delacruz’s role in the case.  While Delacruz was awaiting a courts-martial for charges of stolen valor, he was placed in charge of the evidence room which housed the investigative files pertaining to Major Golsteyn.  When the defense team received the discovery following the referral of the charge to a general courts-martial in May 2019, they found that the Afghan witness identified by Delacruz, as well as the interpreter used to conduct a telephonic interview with that witness were no longer able to be located.  Although this happened on or around 3 April 2019, this fact was omitted by the prosecution in its mandatory disclosures to the defense and possibly the convening authority.

In closing, Major Golsteyn is facing a premeditated murder charge predicated by a fabrication made by CID agents in the first investigation and supported by creative investigative techniques and disappearing evidence.  The case files definitely show that this trial will simply be a rerun of the 2015 BOI as retribution for the Fox News interview in 2016.


1.            110917-Stiles, Crime Report CR 2011-110, C.O.o.G. Counsel, Editor. A6-Exhibits, CIA Investigation – 1. p. 2.

2.            111003-CID, Request for Investigation, R.D.G.C. Reed, Editor. A6-Exhibits, BOI Discovery – 1. p. 452.

3.            CIDInvestigation-1, CID Report of Investigation, U.F. Bragg, Editor. A4-Investigations, CID. p. 196.

4.            UNK, Response to RFI to SecArmy, O.o. SecArmy, Editor. 2013, Email. p. 1.

5.            140424-GOMOR, GOMOR, U. CDR, Editor. A1-Memos&Orders, USASFC. p. 15.

6.            140221-Roberson, Change CMF, r.S. CDR, Editor. 2014, BOI Evidenciary Packet. p. 1.

7.            141014-Golsteyn, Security Clearance Renewal, M.M. Golsteyn, Editor. 2014, Golsteyn, M MAJ. p. 3.

8.            141117-SecArmy, Revocation of DSC and SS, A.a.D. Branch, Editor. A1-Memos&Orders, Memorandum. p. 1.

9.            150203-Initiation, Notification of Elimination, H.A. G-1, Editor. A1-Memos&Orders. p. 14.

10.          Golsteyn-transcript-(redacted-locked), Polygraph Transcript, CIA, Editor. A7-Transcripts, CIA. p. 26.

11.          6.27and28Jun_pages978to1089-unclass, Board of Inquiry Day-6. A7-Transcripts. p. 113.

12.          2.23andmorning24Jun_pages52to267unclassified, Board of Inquiry Day-2. 2015. p. 216.

13.          4.25Jun_pages445to815-unclass, Board of Inquiry Day-4. A7-Transcripts. p. 371.

14.          160428-BOIFindingClarification, Specification of Conduct Unbecoming Charge. A7-Transcripts.

15.          DA-199, MEB Findings. B3-GolsteynInfo. p. 2.

16.          DA-5892, VA disability ratings. B3-GolsteynInfo. p. 4.