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Army Lied about how Pat Tillman died


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http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/23/tilman.probe.ap/index.html

Parents: Army disrespected Tillman's memory

Monday, May 23, 2005 Posted: 9:10 AM EDT (1310 GMT)

Cpl. Pat Tillman was killed in a firefight in Afghanistan in April 2004.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The family of former professional football player Pat Tillman says the Army disrespected his memory by lying in its investigation of his death in Afghanistan last year.

In interviews with The Washington Post, the Army Ranger's mother and father said they believe the military and the government created a heroic tale about how their son died to foster a patriotic response across the country.

"Pat had high ideals about the country; that's why he did what he did," Mary Tillman told the Post. "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."

Tillman, a player for the Arizona Cardinals, left the National Football League after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to join the Rangers with his brother. After a tour in Iraq, they were sent to Afghanistan in 2004 to help hunt for the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

Shortly after arriving in the mountains to fight, Tillman was killed in a barrage of gunfire from his own men, mistaken for the enemy as he got into position to defend them.

After a public memorial service, at which Tillman received the Silver Star, the Army told Tillman's family what had really happened.

The separate interviews with Tillman's parents, who are divorced, appeared on the Post's Internet site for Monday's editions.

Patrick Tillman Sr., a lawyer, told the Post he is furious about 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," the father 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."

"In the case of the death of Corporal Patrick Tillman, the Army made mistakes in reporting the circumstances of his death to the family," Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks told the Post. "For these, we apologize. We cannot undo those early mistakes."

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Here's the link to the Post's article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/22/AR2005052200865.html

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Former NFL player Pat Tillman's family is lashing out against the Army, saying that the military's investigations into Tillman's friendly-fire death in Afghanistan last year were a sham and that Army efforts to cover up the truth have made it harder for them to deal with their loss.

More than a year after their son was shot several times by his fellow Army Rangers on a craggy hillside near the Pakistani border, 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."

Tillman, a popular player for the Arizona Cardinals, gave up stardom in the National Football League after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to join the Army Rangers with his brother. After a tour in Iraq, their unit was sent to Afghanistan in spring 2004, where they were to hunt for the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. Shortly after arriving in the mountains to fight, Tillman was killed in a barrage of gunfire from his own men, mistaken for the enemy as he got into position to defend them.

Immediately, the Army kept the soldiers on the ground quiet and told Tillman's family and the public that he was killed by enemy fire while storming a hill, barking orders to his fellow Rangers. After a public memorial service, at which Tillman received the Silver Star, the Army told Tillman's family what had really happened, that he had been killed by his own men.

In separate interviews in their home town of San Jose and by telephone, Tillman's parents, who are divorced, spoke about their ordeal with the Army with simmering frustration and anger. A series of military investigations have offered differing accounts of Tillman's death. The most recent report revealed more deeply the confusion and disarray surrounding the mission he was on, and more clearly showed that the family had been kept in the dark about details of his death.

The latest investigation, written about by The Washington Post earlier this month, showed that soldiers in Afghanistan knew almost immediately that they had killed Tillman by mistake in what they believed was a firefight with enemies on a tight canyon road. The investigation also revealed that soldiers later burned Tillman's uniform and body armor.

That information was slow to make it back to the United States, the report said, and Army officials here were unaware that his death on April 22, 2004, was fratricide when they notified the family that Tillman had been shot.

Over the next 10 days, however, top-ranking Army officials -- including the theater commander, Army Gen. John P. Abizaid -- were told of the reports that Tillman had been killed by his own men, the investigation said. But the Army waited until a formal investigation was finished before telling the family -- which was weeks after a nationally televised memorial service that honored Tillman on May 3, 2004.

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."

Army spokesmen maintain that the Army has done everything it can to keep the family informed about the investigation, offering to answer relatives' questions and going back to them as investigators gathered more information.

Army officials said Friday that the Army "reaffirms its heartfelt sorrow to the Tillman family and all families who have lost loved ones during this war." Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, an Army spokesman, said the Army acts with compassion and heartfelt commitment when informing grieving families, often a painful duty.

"In the case of the death of Corporal Patrick Tillman, the Army made mistakes in reporting the circumstances of his death to the family," Brooks said. "For these, we apologize. We cannot undo those early mistakes."

Brooks said the Army has "actively and directly" informed the Tillman family regarding investigations into his death and has dedicated a team of soldiers and civilians to answering the family's questions through phone calls and personal meetings while ensuring the family "was as well informed as they could be."

Mary Tillman keeps her son's wedding album in the living room of the house where he grew up, and his Arizona State University football jersey, still dirty from the 1997 Rose Bowl game, hangs in a nearby closet. With each new version of events, her mind swirls with new theories about what really happened and why. She questions how an elite Army unit could gun down its most recognizable member at such close range. She dwells on distances and boulders and piles of documents and the words of frenzied men.

"It makes you feel like you're losing your mind in a way," she said. "You imagine things. When you don't know the truth, certain details can be blown out of proportion. The truth may be painful, but it's the truth. You start to contrive all these scenarios that could have taken place because they just kept lying. If you feel you're being lied to, you can never put it to rest."

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."

That their son was famous opened up the situation to problems, the Tillmans say, in part because of the devastating public relations loss his death represented for the military. Mary Tillman says the government used her son for weeks after his death, perpetuating an untrue story to capitalize on his altruism -- just as the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was erupting publicly. She said she was particularly offended when President Bush offered a taped memorial message to Tillman at a Cardinals football game shortly before the presidential election last fall. She again felt as though her son was being used, something he never would have wanted.

"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."

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So sad! They should have known the truth.

Yes they should have - we all should have - but in post 9/11 America, a large number of people don't want to hear the truth. And certainly the Army and the Bush administration don't want them to know it.

The public wants to hear stories that meld with their ideas of the USA as noble conquerors, bravely fighting off evil doers wherever they may hide. A football player who gave up his career to fight in Afghanistan? That's a great story, and the Army realized that it is a public relations dream. Unless it ends the way it did - then it's a nightmare. So they put out a story that they believe the public wants to hear - and in fact, the public at large does want to hear it.

This is the same reason why millions of reasonably intelligent people actually believe that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. Because that's want they want to believe, even if nothing could be further from the truth. So that's the story coming from the administration - Iraq was a breading ground for terrorists. Run with completely flimsy evidence, ignore any evidence that contradicts your version of reality, package it up in a nice, "official" package, and sell it to the American people.

And the American people will buy it, which, clearly, they did.

See this story that the Army fabricated isn't really about the Tillman family. It's about gaining approval ratings, and its sick what they did.

But if I have this opinion, then I must hate freedom, and I don't support our troops. Right? No, not right - that's just another BS story, like so many others.

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OTOH, if we could somehow magiclly resurrect Tillman, and ask him "Son, the Army could get a lot of public support for the war effort, if we create some heroic fable about your death. It'll mean lieing to your friends and parents, but it will help the war effort. Do we have your permission?" What do you think he would've said?

(OTOOH, was this story concieved because the Army wanted a PR boost? Or was it just a way of covering a f*ckup?)

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Originally posted by E-Dog Night

Yes they should have - we all should have - but in post 9/11 America, a large number of people don't want to hear the truth. And certainly the Army and the Bush administration don't want them to know it.

The public wants to hear stories that meld with their ideas of the USA as noble conquerors, bravely fighting off evil doers wherever they may hide. A football player who gave up his career to fight in Afghanistan? That's a great story, and the Army realized that it is a public relations dream. Unless it ends the way it did - then it's a nightmare. So they put out a story that they believe the public wants to hear - and in fact, the public at large does want to hear it.

This is the same reason why millions of reasonable intelligent people actually believe that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. Because that's want they want to believe, even if nothing could be further from the truth. So that's the story coming from the administration - Iraq was a breading ground for terrorists. Run with completely flimsy evidence, ignore any evidence that contradicts your version of reality, package it up in a nice, "official" package, and sell it to the American people.

And the American people will buy it, which, clearly, they did.

See this story that the Army fabricated isn't really about the Tillman family. It's about gaining approval ratings, and its sick what they did.

But if I have this opinion, then I must hate freedom, and I don't support our troops. Right? No, not right - that's just another BS story, like so many others.

First of all Yes the truth should have been told first. But nothing should have been said or done until all the facts are worked out... Thanks to the media this stuff gets out too fast before all the facts have been reported and statments are made in haste. If the media would just stay out of the battle fields the firts story would have been right...... Many Rangers have died in recent years and NONE OF THEM HAVE BEEN ON THE NEWS......... Rangers who have been in thier units for years serving in harms way in countries we dont speak of.....

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I understand that part but from the sister of a brother who died at the Air Force Academy we NEEDED to know the truth as to how he died. That was the only way to heal to know the facts to try to understand how a 21 year old could die. I was only 12 then and I had a lot of issues with dealing with it (I still do) but I had to know. Just yesterday at my nieces baptism I was wondering if my brother was here would I have already been an aunt etc. The facts mean everything to a family!

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Originally posted by Larry

OTOH, if we could somehow magiclly resurrect Tillman, and ask him "Son, the Army could get a lot of public support for the war effort, if we create some heroic fable about your death. It'll mean lieing to your friends and parents, but it will help the war effort. Do we have your permission?" What do you think he would've said?

(OTOOH, was this story concieved because the Army wanted a PR boost? Or was it just a way of covering a f*ckup?)

You cannot report a FF incident in the same way you report other KIA's.. There needs to be more background work done.
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Originally posted by Larry

OTOH, if we could somehow magiclly resurrect Tillman, and ask him "Son, the Army could get a lot of public support for the war effort, if we create some heroic fable about your death. It'll mean lieing to your friends and parents, but it will help the war effort. Do we have your permission?" What do you think he would've said?

(OTOOH, was this story concieved because the Army wanted a PR boost? Or was it just a way of covering a f*ckup?)

Well, we can't bring back Tillman from the grave, so that's a silly point. And because he's obviously a man of honor, it's more likely that he would want people to know the truth, IMO, rather than a bunch of lies.

And it's pretty clear that this was an attempt by the Army to gain a PR boost. Tillman was the most high-profile person to volunteer for these wars, so when he died, the Army knew this was going to be a story, one way or the other.

So they created a story that they knew would play well to those who supported the war, and more importantly, those who had mixed feelings about it. In situations like this, the original story is usually the one that sticks in the public psyche, and when the details come out about what really happened, it doesn't get the same amount of attention.

But in this case it did, so it's less of a black eye for the Army to claim "mistakes were made" rather than admit they lied. It isn't very likely (to say the least) that any organization accidentally makes up a bunch of details that never happened.

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Originally posted by RyansRangers

First of all Yes the truth should have been told first. But nothing should have been said or done until all the facts are worked out... Thanks to the media this stuff gets out too fast before all the facts have been reported and statments are made in haste. If the media would just stay out of the battle fields the firts story would have been right...... Many Rangers have died in recent years and NONE OF THEM HAVE BEEN ON THE NEWS......... Rangers who have been in thier units for years serving in harms way in countries we dont speak of.....

I don't know that I blame it on the media, but I agree that everything should have been worked out first before any statements were made.

Originally posted by Kilmer17

Didnt everyone already know this?

Some probably did, and some probably didn't. Even if we did, what's it to you? It doesn't make the issue less worthwhile for discussion. I've seen you post this sort of comment before, and I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish. Does it make you feel more informed? Is it an effort to marginalize the issue?

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Originally posted by E-Dog Night

Yes they should have - we all should have - but in post 9/11 America, a large number of people don't want to hear the truth. And certainly the Army and the Bush administration don't want them to know it.

The public wants to hear stories that meld with their ideas of the USA as noble conquerors, bravely fighting off evil doers wherever they may hide. A football player who gave up his career to fight in Afghanistan? That's a great story, and the Army realized that it is a public relations dream. Unless it ends the way it did - then it's a nightmare. So they put out a story that they believe the public wants to hear - and in fact, the public at large does want to hear it.

This is the same reason why millions of reasonable intelligent people actually believe that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. Because that's want they want to believe, even if nothing could be further from the truth. So that's the story coming from the administration - Iraq was a breading ground for terrorists. Run with completely flimsy evidence, ignore any evidence that contradicts your version of reality, package it up in a nice, "official" package, and sell it to the American people.

And the American people will buy it, which, clearly, they did.

See this story that the Army fabricated isn't really about the Tillman family. It's about gaining approval ratings, and its sick what they did.

But if I have this opinion, then I must hate freedom, and I don't support our troops. Right? No, not right - that's just another BS story, like so many others.

exactly. It is really sad that such a brave man died for such a worthless cause

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Originally posted by dfitzo53

I don't know that I blame it on the media, but I agree that everything should have been worked out first before any statements were made.

Some probably did, and some probably didn't. Even if we did, what's it to you? It doesn't make the issue less worthwhile for discussion. I've seen you post this sort of comment before, and I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish. Does it make you feel more informed? Is it an effort to marginalize the issue?

Simply trying to figure out who follows the news as it happens and who follows the news when lead by their ideological masters.

And it doesnt make me FEEL more informed, but it certainly shows that I AM more informed. At least in this specific instance.

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Originally posted by Brooklynskinsfan

exactly. It is really sad that such a brave man died for such a worthless cause

Dont Say that..... When you say that you are spitting on all the people who have died in war... When you serve your country you swear to protect your country.... even if the soldiers dont agree with why they are where they are, a soldier NEVER DIES for a worthless cause..
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I have a hard time believing in the military for reasons like this,

This was the all-time all American Boy, He took pride in his country's decision and supported them(when alot of people didn't), but gave up playing football to do so, and this is how he was repaid- the Army lies about how THEY KILLED HIM,

Makes you think twice about putting your life on the line for this Country-Or the people that run this country-

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Originally posted by dahurt002

I have a hard time believing in the military for reasons like this,

This was the all-time all American Boy, He took pride in his country's decision and supported them(when alot of people didn't), but gave up playing football to do so, and this is how he was repaid- the Army lies about how THEY KILLED HIM,

Makes you think twice about putting your life on the line for this Country-Or the people that run this country-

To be fair the Army didn't kill him. He died as a result of friendly fire, but the two aren't the same thing.

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Originally posted by dahurt002

I have a hard time believing in the military for reasons like this,

This was the all-time all American Boy, He took pride in his country's decision and supported them(when alot of people didn't), but gave up playing football to do so, and this is how he was repaid- the Army lies about how THEY KILLED HIM,

Makes you think twice about putting your life on the line for this Country-Or the people that run this country-

The Army didnt Kill him...... and lets take a second to reflect on the ranger who accidently shot one of his brothers... He will never be the same for it.... Crazy things happen in battle.....

as for you 2nd part...... "Makes you think twice about putting your life on the line for this Country-Or the people that run this country"

nope

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Originally posted by E-Dog Night

Well, we can't bring back Tillman from the grave, so that's a silly point. And because he's obviously a man of honor, it's more likely that he would want people to know the truth, IMO, rather than a bunch of lies.

I certainly wasn't claiming any particular psychic knowledge.

But the fact that he went, implies, to me, that he thought the war was important enough to sacrifice for.

(Which also brings up another point to me about "war heros". To me, people don't become heors when they lead a charge up a hill, or cross a field of fire to reach a buddy. They become heros when they join up. The guy who stood next to the "hero", but didn't get shot, took just the same risks.

To me, Tillman became at least a partial hero when he went.

And when he went, he knew that he might die.

He knew that he might die from friendly fire.

He knew that he might die in training. (Face it, sometimes people die practicing war.)

And he went.

(Now, if you want to get mad because the US lied to him, before he signed up, . . . )

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After a public memorial service, at which Tillman received the Silver Star, the Army told Tillman's family what had really happened.

This part of the story is confusing to me.

If I am reading this correctly, the only reason that Tillman's family knows that the Army 'lied', is because the Army made a point to tell them the 'truth'.

Does anyone else see the irony here, or am I misunderstanding something?

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