The coverup of Pat Tillman’s death was even worse than we thought
The coverup of NFL star Pat Tillman‘s death by friendly fire in April 2004 in Afghanistan was even worse than previously reported.
And as more and more facts and photos emerge, the lies and bullshit of the Pentagon come into sharper focus.
The Washington Post, whose former managing editor Steve Coll wrote a blistering account in December about Tillman’s unnecessary death, is now reporting that the Pentagon hid the truth from his family until weeks after the Bush regime had milked the tragedy for all the p.r. it could get.
Josh White‘s story this morning says:
A new Army report on the death shows that top Army officials, including the theater commander, Gen. John P. Abizaid, were told that Tillman’s death was fratricide days before the service.
In my previous item about Coll’s story, I quoted his piece:
In White’s follow-up, he pored through thousands of pages of documents and found that despite what was called “gross negligence” in Tillman’s death, the soldiers responsible got off lightly. Of the coverup, he also wrote:
White doesn’t say so, but what’s so surprising about this? At the time of Tillman’s death, the Abu Ghraib scandal was breaking, and the Bush regime desperately needed the great p.r. generated by the heroic Tillman’s tragic death to counter the ugly torture scandal.
“Blot out” is the operative phrase of our current administration. Just look at the photos of soldiers’ coffins, like the picture above, pried out of the government after a long court battle.
Kudos to former CNN journalist Ralph Begleiter and the hard-working truth fanatics of the National Security Archive for obtaining these images. The government only wants you to focus on celebrities’ deaths, when it can spin some p.r. It has steadfastly played down the relentless offloading of coffins at Dover, Delaware, but Begleiter, now a journalism prof at the University of Delaware, fought long and hard to open up those secret operations.
Just a few days ago, the National Security Archive, one of the best NGOs around, posted another batch of photos previously suppressed by the government. You can look at them, download them, pass them around. People can see the human cost of war. I know it’s bad for military recruiting. Tough.
But let’s go back to exactly one year ago.The memorial service for Tillman was on May 3, 2004. The coverup was in full swing. As White’s story notes:
The family learned about Tillman’s fratricide over Memorial Day weekend, several weeks later. Commanders felt they could not hold on to the old version because the Rangers were returning home and “everybody knows the story,” the documents show.
Meanwhile, the very day after the memorial service, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was interviewed on the government’s Pentagon Channel. The topic was Military Appreciation Month. Here’s a snatch of the TV show’s May 4, 2004, Q&A:
WOLFOWITZ: Well, I think, first of all, just keep making progress. I mean, I do believe eventually the facts get through over the statements—false statements. And it is absolutely critical that we win Iraq and that we win Afghanistan.
The interviewer of course had to bring up families:
Wolfowitz, a pretend soldier himself, obviously didn’t have anything to say to Tillman’s family. The coverup was going on at that moment. All Wolfie said was the usual platitudinous crap, including this:
Well, then, just don’t show them the pictures of death and of coffins, and don’t tell the families the bad news—especially the truth.