Matt Gaetz's military affairs aide served time for shooting Afghan civilian in the head: report
Congressman Matt Gaetz speaking with supporters at a "Liberty for Trump" event. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Derrick Miller, who serves as a military policy aide for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), was convicted in a military trial for shooting an Afghan civilian in the head during an interrogation, The Intercept reported on Wednesday.

"While on a combat mission in Afghanistan’s Laghman province on September 26, 2010, Miller shot 27-year-old Atta Mohammed in the head during an interrogation," reported Ken Klippenstein. "Miller has maintained that he was acting in self-defense, alleging that Mohammed, who had walked through a defensive perimeter established by Miller’s unit, could be a threat to his unit and that he had tried to grab Miller’s weapon during the interrogation. But another National Guard member testified he heard Miller threaten to kill Mohammed if he did not tell the truth; and then sat on top of him — Mohammed was lying prone — before shooting him in the head, killing him. According to the prosecutor, Miller then said, 'I shot him. He was a liar.' Mohammed’s body was left in a latrine, in violation of military standards."

According to the report, Miller received a life sentence for premeditated murder of a civilian from a military jury at court-martial. He served eight years, but received parole after an aggressive lobbying campaign for his freedom.

"In 2017, Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to review the case. 'As you know, our troops face extremely difficult decisions while serving in the heat of battle,' the letter stated," said the report. "Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, also testified in his defense. By 2018, following a clemency hearing, the Army reduced Miller’s sentence to 20 years, making him eligible for parole. He was released on May 20, 2019." Miller served as an aide to Gohmert before taking the job with Gaetz.

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Asked for comment, a Gaetz spokesperson was unapologetic. “He was wrongfully convicted and served our country with honor.”

Gaetz represents Florida's 1st Congressional District, in the far western portion of the Florida Panhandle, which includes Eglin Air Force Base and has a large military population. He came under intense national controversy when he was caught up in a federal sex trafficking investigation, although he was never charged in that probe.