President Donald Trump used Twitter on Saturday morning to come to the defense of an army officer charged with murder and said the man's case was now under review at the White House.
Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, a decorated Green Beret, is charged with committing premeditated murder of an Afghan man he suspected of being a Taliban bomb maker on Feb. 22, 2010, while deployed near Forward Operating base McQuery in Marjah, Afghanistan.
A conviction of premeditated murder carries a maximum penalty of death.
Golsteyn disclosed the shooting during a CIA polygraph test. He was applying for a job at the spy agency and admitted to killing the man, who he claimed was a suspected Taliban bomb maker, military officials said when the officer was charged.
"Mathew is a highly decorated Green Beret who is being tried for killing a Taliban bombmaker," Trump tweeted. "We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill!"
The alleged murder occurred just days after two U.S. Marines, Sgt. Jeremy McQueary and Lance Cpl. Larry Johnson, were killed after they entered a building rigged with explosives. Golsteyn was present when the Marines were killed and three others were injured, he said.
According to military documents, the Afghan man was taken into custody over suspicion that he was responsible for planting the explosives that killed the two Marines. He was later released.
Golsteyn admitted to killing the suspected bomb maker publicly during an appearance on a Fox News Special Report entitled, "How We Fight" two years after he was given an official reprimand for his actions in April 2014, which brought the case to public attention.
He was officially charged in December 2018, nearly nine years after the murder occurred.
A spokesperson for U.S. Army Special Operations Command said at the time that "Golsteyn's immediate commander has determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant" the charge against him.
Golsteyn sent a letter in January to the commanding general of the Army Special Operations Aviation Command pleading his case and insisting that his answers during his CIA polygraph had been misrepresented.
"There is no question that the charge of premeditated murder grossly misrepresents my conduct in Afghanistan and exposes me to the death penalty for serving this nation in accordance with the requirements of my mission," Golsteyn wrote. "The military justice system has been compromised in my case."