Saturday, March 31, 2007

AP : Army Gen. Warned Superiors to Tell Bush About Tillman Weeks Before Circumstances of His Death Were Made Public

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Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal sent a memo to his superiors just seven days after the death of Army Ranger Cpl. Pat Tillman warning that President Bush and other political leaders that the former Arizoma Cardinals safety was NOT killed in an ambush, but by friendly fire. Among other things in the memo to Gen. John Abizaid, he wrote:
I felt that it was essential that you received this information as soon as we detected it in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country's leaders which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Cpl. Tillman's death become public.
The Tillman family believes that their son's death was used by the Army and the Bush administration to stem the growing tide of anti-war sentiment in the United States at a time when public opinion was turning more and more against the war. The circumstances of Tillman's death are unusual, and the family believes they have not been fully investigated. Some believe he might have been targeted.


Paul Boyce, U.S. Army said...

Army Acting Quickly to Resolve Remaining Concerns in Cpl. Tillman's Death

Army Ranger Cpl. Pat Tillman died a hero April 22, 2004, in Paktika Province, Afghanistan. At great personal risk, he acted immediately to save others by attempting to identify his position when he, another Soldier and an Afghan Military Forces member came under “friendly fire.” “On that tragic day, the Tillman family lost a loved one, a son, a brother, a husband,” Acting Army Secretary Pete Geren reminded the American public March 26 during a nationally televised press conference. On that April day three years ago, “Cpl. Tillman joined the hallowed ranks of the now more than 3,000 men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror,” Geren said. “Our Army grieves the death of every one of those Soldiers and shares the grief of every bereaved family.”

On March 26, the Defense Department Inspector General recommended the Army consider appropriate corrective action with respect to those Army officials identified in the report. Mr. Geren immediately directed Gen. William S. Wallace, commanding general of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, to review the DoD IG report and take appropriate action with regard to the Army officers identified. Gen. Wallace, a four-star general officer and combat veteran, has at his disposal a full range of investigative and disciplinary options. An initial progress report should reach the Army leadership later this month.

“We have investigated, taken corrective action and will continue to hold ourselves as an Army accountable not only to the Tillman family, but to every Army family,” Army Vice Chief of Staff Richard Cody said during the same Pentagon press conference.

“We as an Army failed in our duty to the Tillman family, the duty we owe to all families of our fallen Soldiers: give them the truth, the best we know it, as fast as we can," Mr. Geren explained. Timely and accurate family notification is a duty based on core Army values. As an Army, we already have incorporated lessons learned from this tragic event and from other casualties over the past three years. “Our failure in fulfilling this duty brought discredit to the Army and compounded the grief suffered by the Tillman family,” Geren said. “We pledge to do better.”

Very respectfully,
Paul Boyce
U.S. Army, The Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Fallon said...

Thank you, Mr. Boyce (are you a civilian employee of the US Army, or do you hold rank?).

In the interest of full disclosure, You perhaps might have mentioned that you are a public relations officer with the US Army. You were most recently the focus of a story about alleged "gag orders" on injured vets at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

My full disclosure: I teach in a department (Communication) whose student body and faculty are distributed, more or less equally, between journalism and "integrated marketing communication" which includes both advertising and public relations.

To make my biases completely public, I believe that one discipline is concerned with pursuing and publicizing truth, the other with hiding and denying it.

Having said all that, I wonder if the Army cares to comment on the original San Francisco Chronicle story by Robert Collier that details some of the more suspicious circumstances of Pat Tillman's death both the media and the Army have largely ignored? For instance:

Yet other Tillman family members are less reluctant to show Tillman’s unique character, which was more complex than the public image of a gung-ho patriotic warrior. He started keeping a journal at 16 and continued the practice on the battlefield, writing in it regularly. (His journal was lost immediately after his death.) Mary Tillman said a friend of Pat’s even arranged a private meeting with Chomsky, the antiwar author, to take place after his return from Afghanistan — a meeting prevented by his death. She said that although he supported the Afghan war, believing it justified by the Sept. 11 attacks, “Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq war.”

Baer, who served with Tillman for more than a year in Iraq and Afghanistan, told one anecdote that took place during the March 2003 invasion as the Rangers moved up through southern Iraq.

“I can see it like a movie screen,” Baer said. “We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq) watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we weren’t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ‘You know, this war is so f— illegal.’ And we all said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s who he was. He totally was against Bush.”

Another soldier in the platoon, who asked not to be identified, said Pat urged him to vote for Bush’s Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry.

And this, from CNN:

Mary Tillman said she was not excluding the possibility that her son was shot intentionally.

I'd be interested to hear what, if anything, the US Army has to say about this.