Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pat Tillman

Hearings were held yesterday on the death of Pat Tillman and if the circumstances of his death from friendly fire were covered up. Here's a story from USA Today and one from the Post.

One of the comments on the story in the Post essential said how come this guy is getting all the press when there are thousands of others who have died and aren't recognized at all. There is some truth to that comment. But I would say that Pat Tillman's death and the inability of the military and the US government to give the real story about what happened. This from former Secretary Rumsfeld:

It was badly handled, and errors were made, but . . . I know that I would not engage in a coverup.

Doesn't that sum up the situation in Iraq: badly handled and errors made.

Further testimony from Richard B. Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Myers testified that he was told in late April, days after Tillman’s death, that he may have died of friendly fire, but didn’t pass along that information or get involved in notifying the family. “This is the responsibility of the Army, not the office of chairman,” Myers said.

Reminds me of the general at Walter Reed. I don't do inspections. Now right after Tillman's death maybe if you were Myers you would not get involved. But considering the fire storm that erupted over this it seems to me you would have done something.

This from USA Today:
The Army censured a retired three-star general for his handling of the friendly-fire death of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who gave up a lucrative career to become an Army Ranger.

Here's the censure order:

SUBJECT: Censure

You are hereby censured for your conduct and failure of leadership in matters relating to the investigation and reporting of the death of Cpl. Pat Tillman. As the commanding general of the United States Army Special Operations Command, you were the senior military officer in the administrative chain of command for the 75th Ranger Regiment, the unit to which Cpl. Tillman was assigned at the time of his death.

You and soldiers under your command failed to follow Army and Department of Defense policy and regulations in the investigation and conduct of the administrative duties required in a case of fratricide. Your failings compounded the grief suffered by the Tillman family, resulted in the dissemination of erroneous information and caused lasting damage to the reputation and credibility of the U.S. Army. You are accountable and responsible for the failures of your command.

When tasked by the acting Secretary of the Army, Secretary Brownlee, to investigate this matter, you failed in your duty to the Office of the Secretary and to the U.S. Army. You subverted the trust vested in you by the Secretary of the Army. To quote Gen. Wallace, “When you chose to lie about what you knew in order to avoid personal responsibility for your actions, you crossed a line that demands serious rebuke.” Your Army leadership relied on the purported accuracy and completeness of the investigation to the detriment of the institutional credibility of the U.S. Army.

Few matters rise to the importance of your handling of next-of-kin notification for our fallen soldiers. You failed in your duty to the Tillman family in the conduct of their notification and failed the Army in your decision to deceive your Army’s leadership regarding your role in the mishandled affair.

I think this is a very sad story. Pat Tillman was an extremely brave man. Pat Tillman could have stayed playing football in Arizona making a great deal of money. But after 9/11 he thought it was important to serve his country. We could all learn a lesson from that.

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