"Holy Toledo!"

April 24, 2007

The Truth Is Worse Than Fiction

Filed under: News & Politics — Bill @ 10:40 pm

I had planned on writing about the upcoming NFL Draft, the injury riddled A’s, & an exciting Mets win vs. Colorado.  Instead I made the mistake of checking the headlines and I saw a report that really pissed me off.

Here is the lowlights of what occurred today in Congress (taken from the AP article).

– An Army Ranger who was with Pat Tillman when the former football star was cut down by friendly fire in Afghanistan said Tuesday a commanding officer had ordered him to keep quiet about what happened.

The military at first portrayed Tillman’s death as the result of heroic combat with the enemy. Army Spc. Bryan O’Neal told a congressional hearing that when he got the chance to talk to Tillman’s brother, who had been in a nearby convoy on the fateful day, “I was ordered not to tell him what happened.”

O’Neal said he was ordered not to tell him by then-Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey, the battalion commander who oversaw Tillman’s platoon.  “He basically just said, sir, that uh, ‘Do not let Kevin know.  He made it known that I would get in trouble, sir, if I spoke with Kevin.”  O’Neal said he was “quite appalled” by the order.

(Just wait, there is more….)

– The Army said initially that Tillman was killed by enemy gunfire while trying to help another group of ambushed soldiers. The family was not told what really happened until May 29, 2004, a delay the Army blamed on procedural mistakes.

Tillman’s mother also spoke to Congress, “We’ve all been betrayed … We never thought they would use him the way they did.”.  O’Neal agreed with Mrs. Tillman, “”Roger that, sir,” he replied dressed in his Army uniform.

Also on hand was Jessica Lynch, the former Army private who was badly injured when her convoy was ambushed in Iraq in 2003. She was later 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, took a seat alongside Tillman’s family members and said, “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 lies,”

(Do you remember how the administration used Jessica & Pat to promote patriotism?  The truth is that Lynch feels used, and just imagine the anger that the Tillman family feels.)

– These revelations came as committee members questioned whether, and when, top Defense officials and the White House knew that Tillman’s death in eastern Afghanistan three years ago was actually a result of gunfire from fellow U.S. soldier.

“We don’t know what the secretary of defense knew, we don’t know what the White House knew,” Henry Waxman said. “What we do know is these were not a series of accidents, these stories. They were calculatedly put out for a public relations purpose. … Even now there seems to be a cover-up.”

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.

In questioning what the White House knew about Tillman, Rep. Elijah Cummings cited a memo written on April 29, 2004 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.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sent him a letter around the time Rumsfeld left office last December saying he hadn’t known Tillman’s death was from friendly fire until around May 20, 2004.

Tillman’s family was initially misled by the Pentagon and did not learn the truth for more than a month. Tillman was awarded a Silver Star based on fabricated accounts — who fabricated them still isn’t clear after several investigations.

(We do know that NINE high ranking officers in the U.S. Army, along with FOUR generals chose to not report the truth about Tillman’s death.  Even more surprising is that they did this to one of their own, and by misleading his family they turned their back on Pat Tillman.

It is also hard to believe that Rumsfeld wouldn’t have checked, or been informed, on the details of Tillman’s death given the notoriety it received.  Yet he claims that an entire month went by and he didn’t know a thing.  So either he is incompetent or he is a liar.

Mary Tillman agrees, she said it’s “ridiculous,” and she believes Rumsfeld must have known. “The fact that he would have died by friendly fire and no one told Rumsfeld is ludicrous.”

– Kevin Tillman, in his testimony, accused the military of “intentional falsehoods” and “deliberate and careful misrepresentations” in the portrayal of his brother’s death.

“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,” the brother said.

(And now as if all of this isn’t enough enter Lt. Gen. Phillip Kensinger, who must be a dick.)

– The committee had wanted to hear from retired Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger, who was in charge of Army special operations and came under the heaviest criticism from military investigators for misleading information about Tillman’s death.

Kensinger’s attorney sent a letter saying that if Kensinger were called to testify he would refuse to answer questions, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

– After the hearing, Mary Tillman approached Bryan O’Neal, introduced herself, embraced him and sobbed.

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