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Meet the Man Pushing the Trump Administration to Pardon War Criminals

In the year since Marine veteran David Gurfein took over United American Patriots, it's raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal defense.

by Joshua Hersh
May 29 2019, 7:35pm

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas — Derrick Miller walked out of the Fort Leavenworth military detention barracks last week a free man for the first time in nearly a decade.

Nine years ago as a Maryland National Guardsman on his third tour of duty, Miller shot and killed an unarmed Afghan during a battlefield interrogation. Miller said he shot the man in self-defense, after a scuffle over his weapon; prosecutors said Miller always planned to kill the man. He was charged with premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In the years since, his case was taken up by an organization called United American Patriots, which advocates for service members accused of crimes in war zones. Its director, David Gurfein, is a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan and both Gulf Wars. In the one year since he took over the organization, it's raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal defense and public outreach, including to members of Congress.

And the efforts seem to be paying off. In early May, President Trump granted clemency to Michael Behenna, a former soldier convicted of murdering an Iraqi prisoner in 2008. United American Patriots worked on his case.

More recently, the president indicated he was considering looking into several other cases raised by the group. One of them — the case of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who allegedly killed a wounded ISIS captive with a hunting knife in 2017 — hasn’t even gone to trial yet.

This segment originally aired May 28, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

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