The grilling of Don Rumsfeld about the Tillman coverup was delayed just long enough, thanks to George W. Bush‘s re-election, so that Rumsfeld could use the most popular excuse these days.
Sounding a lot like AG Alberto Gonzales (only with much more confidence), Rumsfeld is relying on the “I don’t recall” defense, according to an attachment to his written testimony released at today’s hearing.
The “I don’t recall” bit is in a letter to the inspector general of the department that Rumsfeld once ran. Rumsfeld is saying he doesn’t recall when he was told that Pat Tillman actually was killed by friendly fire.
Rumsfeld’s excuse doesn’t pass the smell test. He avidly followed Tillman’s decision to abandon an NFL career, as his personal letter to Tillman in 2002 shows. He knew then, of course, that Tillman’s decision was a potential p.r. bonanza for the Bush-Cheney regime.
Tillman was not just another soldier to Rumsfeld, and the Defense Department’s handling of his presence in uniform was followed every step of the way — even after his death and the subsequent coverup of how it happened.
Check out the 2006 “I don’t recall” letter and the 2002 personal congratulations letter, but better yet, tune into the hearing.
Or even better yet, read “Army Spun Tale Around Ill-Fated Mission,” the second part of Steve Coll‘s brilliant unmasking in late 2004 of this sordid p.r. tale.