March 30, 2007

Editorial:

The Manipulation of Cpl. Pat Tillman’s Death

There has been very little, if any, good news about the war in Iraq.

But the revelations of the manipulation of the death of Pat Tillman goes beyond belief, beyond human decency, and shows for all to see how low the president’s men would go to promote their war in Iraq.

The story of Pat Tillman was one that was played out on television for all to see. Tillman was a professional football player, making millions of dollars, who quit the game after the 9/11 attacks. He joined his brother as an Army Ranger. He was sent to Afghanistan, where on April 22, 2004 he died after being shot in the midst of battle. And apparently this is where the story becomes a tool of the president’s men.

Pat Tillman was not killed by Afghan warriors, as we were led to believe, but by friendly fire. This information was known, yet not reported. We were led to believe that Tillman died a hero, receiving the Silver Star. On May 5 his funeral was on national television as he and the war on Iraq were glorified. It also served as a nice distraction to all the negative publicity surrounding the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. After the funeral, the information came out weeks later that Tillman had died by friendly fire, the parents of Tillman and the nation wanted answers.

There were several investigations into the killing with the report from the final investigation being released this past Monday. A finding of no crime being committed by the fellow Rangers, who shot Tillman in April 2004, was the conclusion. The parents of Tillman found this finding incredible in that the rules of engagement had been completely ignored in the shooting of their son. They have called for a Congressional investigation. But what we find even more troubling is the manipulation and cover up of the details and how they used this man’s death to promote their war?

The report went on to state: nine Army officers, including four generals, made errors in reporting the friendly fire death to their superiors and to the Tillman family. The sharpest criticism was leveled at Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger, a now-retired three-star general who was in charge of Army special operations, as to why the Army waited about five weeks after it suspected Tillman’s death was from friendly fire before telling his family. Kensinger knew it was probably friendly fire well before telling the Tillmans, and he “provided misleading testimony” to investigators, according to the Defense Department acting inspector general’s report.

Is this the American way? Is this the way we do things in our country now, use the death of a man to manipulate the facts in order to send more men and women overseas to put their life on the line in a war that no longer has any meaning? And how high up does this cover up go? The Tillmans believe it goes as high as the then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

It makes us sick to our stomach that in death this man was used and that his family has had to suffer the unknown and indignity of the whole process. Their son, and all service men, deserve much more than this from the goverment that they give their lives for!

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