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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.
"Pat had high ideals about the country; that's why he did what he did," Mary Tillman said in her first lengthy interview since her son's death. "The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect. The fact that he was the ultimate team player and he watched his own men kill him is absolutely heartbreaking and tragic. The fact that they lied about it afterward is disgusting."
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."
Patrick Tillman Sr. believes he will never get the truth, and he says he is resigned to that now. But he wants everyone in the chain of command, from Tillman's direct supervisors to the one-star general who conducted the latest investigation, to face discipline for "dishonorable acts." He also said the soldiers who killed his son have not been adequately punished.
"Maybe lying's not a big deal anymore," he said. "Pat's dead, and this isn't going to bring him back. But these guys should have been held up to scrutiny, right up the chain of command, and no one has."
"Every day is sort of emotional," Mary Tillman said. "It just keeps slapping me in the face. To find that he was killed in this debacle -- everything that could have gone wrong did -- it's so much harder to take. We should not have been subjected to all of this. This lie was to cover their image. I think there's a lot more yet that we don't even know, or they wouldn't still be covering their tails.
"If this is what happens when someone high profile dies, I can only imagine what happens with everyone else."
FT. BRAGG, N.C. — The Army general investigating the death of Pat Tillman acknowledged that the Army knew almost immediately that he had been killed by fellow soldiers, rather than enemy fire, but blamed confusing regulations — not a cover-up — for its failure to tell his family until after he was buried what really happened.
Brig. Gen. Gary M. Jones, speaking publicly for the first time...
"The evidence from my investigation tells me that no one attempted to cover up or conceal anything in the course of this investigation," Jones said in the interview earlier this week at the Army's Special Operations Command. On Thursday, Army officials issued a statement saying they stood by those findings.
Jones' report represents the Army's latest effort at damage control for omitting from the first public accounts of his death what his fellow Army Rangers said they knew on the day of the shooting: that Tillman's comrades had accidentally killed him.
Mary Tillman, the slain soldier's mother, has been briefed by Army officials, but said she did not accept the Army's latest account, which she said differed from some of the information in the six volumes of its written investigation.
"What the military says in the briefing and what is in the report are two different things, and we're working on getting that document released under [the Freedom of Information Act] so the media can see it," Tillman said Thursday in a telephone interview from her Bay Area office.
"There was a view at several levels of the command that it would be best to wait until the conclusion of the investigation before telling the family about any possible fratricide so that the family was not given what one commander characterized as a half-baked explanation of what happened," Jones said.
In briefings given this spring to Pat Tillman's mother, father and brother and to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jones told them that information pointing to friendly fire initially had been withheld by lower-level commanders in a well-meaning attempt to spare the family's feelings [i/]before all the facts were known.
Withholding the information amounted to "an administrative error," said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the head of Army public affairs.
Jones recommended changes to Army rules, including a more explicit directive that troops not destroy evidence in the event of friendly fire deaths. After Tillman's death, soldiers burned his uniform, saying it was a "biohazard."
Also, Jones said, the commander on the ground should have clear discretion to tell soldiers' families if they are believed to have died under friendly fire even if an investigation is still ongoing.
"In my view, nothing has done more to create suspicion by the family as to the Army's intentions than failing to release that this was a potential fratricide as soon as that became known," Jones said. "Army regulations appear to be in conflict as to whether we should release that information or whether we must withhold it until the conclusion of the investigation."
Unlike earlier accounts in which the Army said that Tillman "probably" died as a result of friendly fire, Jones' report concludes that the evidence leaves no doubt about the cause of his death. Among other things, U.S. ammunition was found embedded in Tillman's ballistic vest, the report said.
Jones also defended the Army's decision to levy relatively light punishment to soldiers and officers in the unit. The most serious reprimand was for dereliction of duty. Four soldiers have been removed from the Rangers.
The Silver Star citation, speedily crafted in time for his May 2004 memorial service, described how Tillman confronted "devastating enemy fire" with his "audacious leadership."
Tillman's platoon split in two because of a disabled vehicle. As the first group — which included Tillman — moved ahead, it made a wrong turn, then heard explosions, which made soldiers believe the second group had come under attack.
Tillman, on foot, climbed a hill with another soldier and an Afghan militiaman, seeking to clear out enemy fighters. However, the arriving second group, seeing the Afghan militiaman and uncertain of who he was, began firing on Tillman's three-man squad. In one of the vehicles, a soldier stood, firing a 50-caliber machine gun at Tillman's squad. Tillman waved his arms, screamed his name and set off a smoke grenade to identify himself as a fellow Ranger, but the gunners continued their barrage.A driver of one of vehicles recognized the group as fellow soldiers, grabbed the 50-caliber machine gunner's leg and shouted, "Cease fire! Friendlies on top." However, Jones said, the machine gunner thought the driver was yelling because he had been hit, and continued shooting at Tillman's group.
Afterward, Tillman's brother, Kevin, who was in the second group of vehicles, was ordered to guard the scene for 45 minutes before another Ranger told him his brother had been killed there.
"If the Army can't even be honest with the family of Pat Tillman, then how can the rest of America expect the Army to be honest with them?" asked Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war veteran and executive director of Operation Truth, a veterans group based in New York. "It's clear that they tried to balloon this story and use it to their benefit at the expense of the family and the American people."
Brooks of the Army's public affairs office called criticism of the Army's motives unfair. "They're talking about intentions, and behaviors and deliberate malfeasance and cover-ups and that sort of thing," he said. "And that is — it is just not right."
bold & italics for futile attempts at further obfuscation & duplicity
Be sure, my posting this is in NO WAY an attempt to dishonor our very bravest, risking their one & only life daily to eradicate the evil Al-Qaida plague that threatens us all. Rather, it is directed towards the dishonest few who decided to rewrite the history of a noble patriot to protect their own careers & image of infallibility.
[edit on 10-6-2005 by Vajrayana]
Pace also said the military has a responsibility to review the details surrounding the death of former National Football League player Pat Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in 2004. The inspectors general in the case decided to open a criminal investigation to review whether the people who shot him had reason to be firing their weapons at the time, he said.
``It's unfortunate that it has to be looked at again, but I'm satisfied that it is being looked at again, because if one of the reviewing officials decided that there was something that had to be looked at, we should do that,'' Pace said on ``Fox News Sunday.''
He was wild, exuberant, loyal, compassionate and driven, they say. He bucked convention, devoured books and debated conspiracy theories. He demanded straight talk about uncomfortable truths.
Nine officers, including up to four generals, should be held accountable for missteps in the aftermath of the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, a Pentagon investigation will recommend.
Dozens of soldiers — those immediately around Tillman at the scene of the shooting, his immediate superiors and high-ranking officers at a command post nearby — knew within minutes or hours that his death was fratricide.
One defense official said it appears the inspector general will not conclude there was an orchestrated cover-up in the investigation.
The other report is by the Army Criminal Investigation Command, which will focus on whether a crime, such as negligent homicide, was committed when Tillman's own men shot him. One defense official said it appears the investigation did not find any criminal intent in the shooting.
Just seven days after Pat Tillman's death, a top general warned there were strong indications that it was friendly fire and President Bush might embarrass himself if he said the NFL star-turned-soldier died in an ambush, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.
The memo reinforces suspicions that the Pentagon was more concerned with sparing officials from embarrassment than with leveling with Tillman's family.
In a memo sent to a four-star general a week after Tillman's April 22, 2004, death, then-Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that it was "highly possible" the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire. McChrystal made it clear his warning should be conveyed to the president.