Skip to comments.Tillman's brother blasts military
Posted on 04/24/2007 10:52:18 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum
WASHINGTON - Pat Tillman's brother accused the military Tuesday of "intentional falsehoods" and "deliberate and careful misrepresentations" in portraying the football star's death in Afghanistan as the result of heroic engagement with the enemy instead of friendly fire.
"We believe this narrative was intended to deceive the family but more importantly the American public," Kevin Tillman told a House Government Reform and Oversight Committee hearing. "Pat's death was clearly the result of fratricide," he said, contending that the military's misstatements amounted to "fraud."
"Revealing that Pat's death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster in a month of political disasters ... so the truth needed to be suppressed," said Tillman, who was in a convoy behind his brother when the incident happened three years ago but didn't see it.
The committee's chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., accused the government of inventing "sensational details and stories" about Pat Tillman's death and the 2003 rescue of Jessica Lynch, perhaps the most famous victims of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
"The government violated its most basic responsibility," said Waxman.
Lynch, then an Army private, was badly injured when her convoy was ambushed in Iraq. She was subsequently rescued by American troops from an Iraqi hospital but the tale of her ambush was changed into a story of heroism on her part.
Still hampered by her injuries, Lynch walked slowly to the witness table and took a seat alongside Tillman's family members.
"The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideals of heroes and they don't need to be told elaborate tales," Lynch said.
Kevin Tillman said his family has sought for years to get at the truth about Pat Tillman's death, and have now concluded that they were "being actively thwarted by powers that are more interested in protecting a narrative than getting at the truth and seeing justice is served."
Lawmakers questioned how high up the chain of command the information about Tillman's friendly fire death went, and whether anyone in the White House knew before Tillman's family.
"How high up did this go?" asked Waxman.
Pat Tillman's mother, Mary Tillman, said she believed former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld must have known. "The fact that he would have died by friendly fire and no one told Rumsfeld is ludicrous," she said.
Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004, after his Army Ranger comrades were ambushed in eastern Afghanistan. Rangers in a convoy trailing Tillman's group had just emerged from a canyon where they had been fired upon. They saw Tillman and mistakenly fired on him.
Though dozens of soldiers knew quickly that Tillman had been killed by his fellow troops, the Army said initially that he was killed by enemy gunfire when he led his team to help another group of ambushed soldiers. The family was not told until May 29, 2004, what really happened, a delay the Army has blamed on procedural mistakes.
In questioning what the White House knew, Rep. Elijah Cummings (news, bio, voting record), D-Md., cited a memo written by a top general seven days after Tillman's death warning it was "highly possible" the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire and making clear his warning should be conveyed to the president. President Bush made no reference to the way Tillman died in a speech delivered two days after the memo was written.
A White House spokesman has said there's no indication Bush received the warning in the memo written April 29, 2004 by then-Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal to Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command.
"It's a little disingenuous to think the administration didn't know," Kevin Tillman told the committee. "That's kind of what we hoped you guys would get involved with and take a look," he said.
Mary Tillman told the committee that family members were "absolutely appalled" upon realizing the extent to which they were misled.
"We've all been betrayed ... We never thought they would use him the way they did," she said.
The Tillman family has made similar accusations against the administration and the military before, but has generally shied away from news media attention. The family had never previously appeared together and summarized their criticism and questions in such a public, comprehensive way.
"We shouldn't be allowed to have smoke screens thrown in our face," Mary Tillman said. "You're diminishing their true heroism to write these glorious tales. It's really a disservice to the nation."
"Our family will never be satisfied. We'll never have Pat back," she said. "Something really awful happened. It's your job to find out what happened to him. That's really important."
Last month the military concluded in a pair of reports that nine high-ranking Army officers, including four generals, made critical errors in reporting Tillman's death but that there was no criminal wrongdoing in his shooting.
Tillman's death received worldwide attention because he had walked away from a huge contract with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the Army after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Lawmakers also planned to press the Pentagon with questions still hovering over Tillman's shooting, including whether a Predator drone was flying overhead when Tillman was killed and whether it videotaped the incident. The military says no such videotape exists.
Associated Press writer Scott Lindlaw contributed to this report from San Francisco.
Again? Isnt this like the third time?
Waxman wouldn't have a clear concept of "basic responsibility" if it stepped up and punched him in the nose.
So the familie's main beef is that the friendly fire aspect wasn't publicized intially or perhaps wasn't publicized quickly enough?
Don’t know what Pat would do. We will never know. I think the family is just upset because of the way they were lied to about the death. I am truly surprised that the Army did this. I typically think they are on the up and up on all information. The Army screwed up on this one.
Another Cindy Sheehan in the making?
I have the utmost respect and sympathy for the Tillman Family, and understand their ire at being lied to by the Government initially. It was a bad move on someone’s part. However, with that said, Friendly Fire injuries and deaths have unfortunately been part of every war and conflict known to mankind. The Government has come clean on the truth, so it is time for the family and everyone else to stop demanding hearings and apologies. I can’t help but think that Pat Tillman would be upset and embarrassed by his brother’s refusal to let the matter go, and his insistance on military bashing. Hopefully he can move forward and honor his brother as the hero he was in life, and try to accept the unbearable grief on his death.
I guess wherever there is a camera....
And justifiably so I would say! The man gave up the life of a millionaire professional athlete and volunteered to serve the country after 9/11 out of pure patriotism. What happened stinks, plain and simple.
It's more about the friendly fire aspect not being told to the family, who apparently got a load of lies instead.
Quite possibly. The moonbats have him under their wing right now "nursing" him.
And justifiably so I would say!
Don’t worry I agree with you 1 million percent. This is a travesty!!!!!
Sadly very true, but the Army lying to the family and the nation about what happened is the issue.
Pat's death was more than a personal tragedy for the family. It was a huge financial loss as well. It would seem some lawyers are working to help the family recoup some of that loss from the taxpayers. Stay tuned for the lawsuit...
There reaches a point where I loose sympathy for the Sheahans of the world. I’m just about there with these narcissists.
I agree that the lying was unjustified and unfortunate, but how many hearings and apologies will it take to soothe the pain of the family? I can’t imagine that keeping up the pressure, and damaging the credibility of the military anymore that it has already been damaged will prove helpful to anyone.
I lost a dear friend to Friendly Fire in Vietnam, and know it is even more painful to know that a loved one was killed by one of our own. But, parading the military leaders around in sack cloth and ashes isn’t helping anyone. Do you really think that any commander will purposely put his troops in danger. Just like with everything else in life, accidents unfortunately happen.
The lie should not have been told, but the bell can’t be unrung, how many apologies and hearings will be necessary to assuage the family’s pain? At some point they just become pawns of those who could care less about the loss of any soldier than they do about their own agenda.
Thanks for posting this! I was in mid-read over on Yahoo, when our power went “poof!” When I got it back, and got the computer rebooted and all, there was a different article on Yahoo.
And now, that I look again...the new article is gone, and there is a 3rd in its place...which seems to be a combination of the other two. But, I am always bugged if I can’t finish reading something I started (especially if it is taken away from me in mid-sentence! :P
Thanks again! :)
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