Monday, May 23, 2005
In NFL news
Former NFL player Pat Tillman's family is lashing out against the Army, saying that the military's investigations into Tillman's friendly-fire death in Afghanistan last year were a sham and that Army efforts to cover up the truth have made it harder for them to deal with their loss.
More than a year after their son was shot several times by his fellow Army Rangers on a craggy hillside near the Pakistani border, Tillman's mother and father said in interviews that they believe the military and the government created a heroic tale about how their son died to foster a patriotic response across the country. They say the Army's "lies" about what happened have made them suspicious, and that they are certain they will never get the full story ...
Tillman, a popular player for the Arizona Cardinals, gave up stardom in the National Football League after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to join the Army Rangers with his brother. After a tour in Iraq, their unit was sent to Afghanistan in spring 2004, where they were to hunt for the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. Shortly after arriving in the mountains to fight, Tillman was killed in a barrage of gunfire from his own men, mistaken for the enemy as he got into position to defend them.
Immediately, the Army kept the soldiers on the ground quiet and told Tillman's family and the public that he was killed by enemy fire while storming a hill, barking orders to his fellow Rangers. After a public memorial service, at which Tillman received the Silver Star, the Army told Tillman's family what had really happened, that he had been killed by his own men ...
Over the next 10 days, however, top-ranking Army officials -- including the theater commander, Army Gen. John P. Abizaid -- were told of the reports that Tillman had been killed by his own men, the investigation said. But the Army waited until a formal investigation was finished before telling the family -- which was weeks after a nationally televised memorial service that honored Tillman on May 3, 2004.
Patrick Tillman Sr., a San Jose lawyer, said he is furious about what he found in the volumes of witness statements and investigative documents the Army has given to the family. He decried what he calls a "botched homicide investigation" and blames high-ranking Army officers for presenting "outright lies" to the family and to the public.
"After it happened, all the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this," Patrick Tillman said. "They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realized that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."
Army spokesmen maintain that the Army has done everything it can to keep the family informed about the investigation, offering to answer relatives' questions and going back to them as investigators gathered more information.
Army officials said Friday that the Army "reaffirms its heartfelt sorrow to the Tillman family and all families who have lost loved ones during this war." Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, an Army spokesman, said the Army acts with compassion and heartfelt commitment when informing grieving families, often a painful duty.
"In the case of the death of Corporal Patrick Tillman, the Army made mistakes in reporting the circumstances of his death to the family," Brooks said. "For these, we apologize. We cannot undo those early mistakes."
Well, I suppose the statement is true as far as it goes, but usually when such a statement is made, the mistakes were accidental. In this instance, there was clear malice aforethought.
This episode is pretty much emblematic of the depravity of the Bushies, who will use anything—even a serviceman's death—to advance their hideous agenda.
But I guess we already knew that.