This year’s Memorial Day brings us nearly another thousand fallen American soldiers to remember. How many more will be sacrificed to the Bush/Cheney political machine and war profiteering industry? Perhaps we should ask Johnny Bomb Bomb Iran McCain. After all, he is a true believer in permanent war and most assuredly will continue the endless slaughter.
We recognize the loss and suffering of countless thousands of Americans and perhaps millions of Iraqis to Bush and Cheney’s war for re-election, power, and profit.
Unlike the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan may be accepted by more of the American people. But its consequences will not be known for years to come. Will it make us safer? Will it inspire more hatred for America? Will it result in another failed military adventure? We can only hope the sacrifices there will be justified.
I want to share my thoughts about one brave American soldier who was killed in Afghanistan. I wrote a piece last August that I believe is still relevant. It is about Pat Tillman. It is also about how the Bush Administration cynically exploited his death and how another government acted similarly.
You may have seen Mary Tillman on TV recently. She has written a book about her son and the ordeal her family was put through in discovering the truth about his death. She talked about her book Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman on 60 Minutes and Countdown: with Keith Olbermann. I’m sure she was on other programs as well.
She is still searching for the truth and I hope, for all our sake, she finds it. She said she is nearly certain her son was not murdered. It is a terrible thing to think such an act is possible to consider.
Her son Kevin Tillman was in the same Ranger unit as Pat and he testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last year. Here is part of what he said.
"Over a month after Pat’s death, when it became clear that it would no longer be possible to pull off this deception, a few of the facts were parceled out to the public and to our family. General Kensinger was ordered to tell the American public May 29th, five weeks later, that Pat died of fratricide, but with a calculated and nefarious twist. He stated, quote, “There was no one specific finding of fault,” end-quote, and that he, quote, “probably died of fratricide,” end-quote. But there was specific fault, and there was nothing probable about the facts that led to Pat’s death.
The most despicable part of what General Kensinger told the American public was when he said, quote, “The results of this investigation in no way diminish the bravery and sacrifice displayed by Corporal Tillman,” end-quote. This is an egregious attempt to manipulate the public into thinking that anyone who would question this 180-degree flip in the narrative would be casting doubt on Pat’s bravery and sacrifice. Such questioning says nothing about Pat’s bravery and sacrifice, any more than the narrative for Jessica diminishes her bravery and sacrifice. It does, however, say a lot about the powers who perpetrated this.
After the truth of Pat’s death was partially revealed, Pat was no longer of use as a sales asset and became strictly the Army’s problem. They were now left with the task of briefing our family and answering our questions. With any luck, our family would sink quietly into our grief, and the whole unsavory episode would be swept under the rug.
However, they miscalculated our family’s reaction. Through the amazing strength and perseverance of my mother, the most amazing woman on earth, our family has managed to have multiple investigations conducted. However, while each investigation gathered more information, the mountain of evidence was never used to arrive at an honest or even sensible conclusion.
The most recent investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General and the Criminal Investigative Division of the Army concluded that the killing of Pat was, quote, “an accident.” The handling of the situation after the firefight were described as a compilation of, quote, “missteps, inaccuracies, and errors in judgment which created the perception of concealment.”
The soldier who shot Pat admitted in a sworn statement that just before he delivered the fatal burst from about thirty-five meters away, that he saw his target waving hands, but he decided to pull the trigger anyway. Such an act is not an accident. It’s a clear violation of the rules of engagement.
Writing up a field hospital report stating that Pat was, quote, “transferred to intensive care unit for continued CPR,” after most of his head had been taken off by multiple .556 rounds, is not misleading. Stating that a giant rectangle bruise covering his chest that sits exactly where the armor plate that protects you from bullets is being, quote, “consistent with paddle marks” is not misleading. These are deliberate and calculated lies.
Writing a Silver Star award before a single eyewitness account is taken is not a misstep. Falsifying soldier witness statements for a Silver Star is not a misstep. These are intentional falsehoods that meet the legal definition for fraud. Delivering false information at a nationally televised memorial service is not an error in judgment. Discarding an investigation that does not fit a preordained conclusion is not an error in judgment. These are deliberate acts of deceit. "
Maybe it’s true about what “The soldier who shot Pat admitted in a sworn statement”. It is unfortunate that so many other “sworn statements” about the incident have turned out to be totally fabricated. What we know for certain is the Bush Administration and Defense Department cannot be trusted.
Here is what I wrote last August.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Two Soldiers And The Other “N” Word
It’s not that the behavior of our government has never reminded me of a certain totalitarian German regime of the last century. It’s the fact that reckless accusations of some person or group being Nazis are thrown about with little sense of accuracy or restraint.
A good example of this hysteria can be found in the words of one Bill O’Reilly. Apparently he was very upset at some fleeting post by a reader of the anti-war liberal website called the Daily Kos. Old Bully O’Really went so far as to accuse them of being a “left wing Nazi hate site,” and “like the KKK. It’s like the Nazi Party.”
So are we to think that Nazis are those folks who oppose a militaristic regime? Are Nazis the people who protest against leaders that attack a sovereign nation based on fear-mongering and outright propaganda? Are Nazis opposed to unprovoked war? Are Nazis the radicals who want our Bill of Rights restored?
Or are Nazis just people who don’t like O’Reilly?
Doesn’t this all seem more than just a little backwards here? Since when have Nazis become anti-fascist?
On the other hand, we can see more than one similarity between the methods of the Bush Administration and those of the Third Reich. Both regimes seized power undemocratically. Both regimes lied to their citizens. Both regimes initiated a war of aggression. Both regimes regarded anyone who dissented as enemies. Both accused political opponents of defeatism. Both regimes spied on their citizens. Both regimes turned their militaries into a police force to be used against their own populations. Both regimes claimed the authority to indefinitely incarcerate its citizens on secret evidence.
Another characteristic of a totalitarian regime is its elevation of every person in uniform to the status of hero. This is true of Germany in the Second World War and it is true of the US Government in the Glorious War for Bush’s Re-Election. Er, I mean Operation Iraqi Freedom.
We all need to respect and support our fellow countrymen in the armed services. They didn’t start this mess. However, calling them all heroes leaves the meaning of the word “hero” so much emptier. What is left to distinguish those who do perform above and beyond the call? As the vets often say, the heroes are the ones who don’t come home.
Let’s take a look at two soldiers who wore different uniforms but shared the honor of being heroes. These two soldiers were loyal, even when their countries invaded and occupied nations that did not attack their homelands. They grew to reject the belligerent and authoritarian leadership forcing their people into unjust war and national disgrace.The two soldiers died and were honored with extravagant and patriotic memorial services. The memorials were used by the governments to bolster support for their wars and to distract the people from the ugly truths emerging from the conflicts.
The first soldier was Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox. He was a brilliant leader of the German Wehrmacht in Europe and Africa during WWII. He was the youngest man ever to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshall. His famous Afrika Korps was victorious until abandoned and unsupported by Hitler.
Realizing Hitler was destroying his country, Rommel joined those who were conspiring against the dictator. They understood there was no way to legally arrest Hitler, so they determined it was necessary to assassinate him. After von Stauffenberg’s bomb failed to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944, Rommel was soon implicated.
He was given the choice to commit suicide or face trial and execution. To protect his family from reprisals, Rommel chose the former. Desperate for a hero to present to the public, the Nazis told the German people Rommel had succumbed to war wounds and was given a lavish public memorial.
The other soldier was a brave and patriotic young man named Pat Tillman. Foregoing a lucrative professional football career, he volunteered to join the army to defend his country after the attacks of September 11th. When Bush decided to invade Iraq, Tillman thought it was wrong and illegal, and that it was not part of the war against those who attacked the US. He began to talk about his opposition to the invasion. He even suggested to others that they not vote to re-elect Bush.
Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004 while serving in Afghanistan. The American people were told that he died fighting the enemy and was to be posthumously promoted to corporal and awarded the Silver Star. While leaders in the Pentagon and White House knew the official story was not true, he was given a splendid hero’s memorial service that was televised to the nation.
This was just the event needed by the administration to boost patriotism and support for the war in Iraq. As we remember, it was in April of 2004 that things started to turn very bloody in Iraq. The Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr urged his Mehdi Army to rise up against the American occupiers. Our casualties increased and the chaos worsened.
Only later did Tillman’s family and the nation learn that Pat was killed by “friendly fire.” There was no battle with the enemy and he was killed by either one of his comrades or some other unknown figure. The army medical examiners suspected that it was possible Tillman was murdered. He was shot three times in the forehead from close range with an M16 rifle.
The reports were a whitewash, complete with army officers boasting that they shook off further criminal investigations.
I am sorry to admit that I can even consider it possible that this man was killed, or even executed, by some shady rogue element in the field. It is sad to conceive the very idea that some private Blackwater mercenary goon or government spook silenced a high-profile outspoken military man of conscience.
No matter how Tillman died, his sacrifice was profanely and obscenely exploited into a shameful betrayal of all that is noble in our nation’s character.
One would expect this kind of treachery from Nazis. It is deeply painful to see these fascist tendencies in our own leaders.