Now, I’m not privy to the details of either Captain Matt Golsteyn or the investigation of him, but this revoking of a Silver Star stinks of perfumed princes and their aversion to public criticism as well as the Obama administration’s hatred of the US military:
In 2011, shortly after a book by author and Marine Bing West came out that detailed Golsteyn’s heroism and quoted him making critical remarks about the American strategy in Afghanistan, I learned that the Army had launched a criminal investigation into his actions during the battle. (Again, full disclosure: I was also interviewed for that book, The Wrong War, and make a brief appearance in it.)
The investigation, apparently, had nothing to do with the acts of bravery that earned Golsteyn his medal. Instead, according to the Washington Post, which cited officials familiar with the case, it concerned “an undisclosed violation of the military’s rules of engagement in combat for killing a known enemy fighter and bomb maker.” The investigation stretched on for nearly two years, during which time the Army effectively put Golsteyn’s career on ice. In 2014, Golsteyn and his lawyer were informed that the investigation was finally complete. No charges were filed, but Golsteyn still wasn’t released from administrative limbo.
Alerted about the controversy by another Army officer, Captain Will Swenson, Congressman Duncan Hunter wrote last year to John McHugh, the secretary of the Army, asking about the status of Golsteyn’s seemingly endless career freeze. Apparently the secretary did not take kindly to the inquiry, as he responded in a letter last November that not only would he not be upgrading Golsteyn’s Silver Star to a Distinguished Service Cross, but would be revoking Golsteyn’s Silver Star entirely, a fact that Hunter revealed publicly in an article for the Daily Beast published on Tuesday.
The revocation of an award such as the Silver Star is extraordinarily rare, and typically would happen in the case of the recipient being convicted of a serious crime that in some way dishonored his service. But not only has Golsteyn not been convicted of a crime—he hasn’t even been charged with one.
McHugh would not reveal to Hunter specifically why he was taking his action beyond submitting the innuendo that he was privy to “derogatory information” regarding Golsteyn’s record. What could this information be? Who knows? Having, according to Hunter, spent years threatening Golsteyn’s men, searching for and failing “to find one piece of evidence to corroborate the allegation” that launched the investigation, the Army clearly decided to punish Golsteyn anyway, through publicly dishonoring him in a manner that allows him effectively no recourse or due process.
It is remarkable that the US military can still find anyone willing to serve under the recent Commanders-in-Chief.