Monday, May 23, 2005

On The Mark -- "Outright Lies"

A few weeks ago I wrote about Pat Tillman, the professional football player who gave up a multi-million dollar contract to fight the war on terrorism in Afghanistan. He was killed in Afghanistan, and the Bush Administration milked his death for all it was worth to build patriotism in America. This was all happening, by the way, while the Abu Ghraib torture scandal was unfolding. It was also happening while all along the Pentagon and White House knew that Tillman had died by friendly fire, but that was news the government didn’t want to get out because it would ruin the PR plan, including a nationally televised burial and other actions, such as Bush giving a special tribute via tape to Arizona Cardinal football fans prior to the presidential election.

I wrote about how the government knew he had died by friendly fire weeks in advance of telling his family and the public, and when this information was finally released it was buried deep in newspapers, if reported at all.

Fortunately, Tillman’s parents have spoken out. And it isn’t pretty. Here are some excerpts about this disgusting news (as reported by Josh White of the Washington Post):

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."

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.

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."

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.


Chandira said...

That is vile.
How do people still trust Bush? How do they not see through all this horrific propaganda?
I have huge respect for that woman who appeared in Fahrenhiet 911, too. She made a big deal about losing her son, and got herself heard. She was on TV constantly in England and Europe, though she got quietened down over here.
It's ok for liberals like us to shout about it all, but it's way more effective when people like the Tillmans speak up. Good for them!

rags said...

It's amazing, really. I think most of us have just come to expect this administration to find some way to wiggle out of news like this. When we heard about this story, even after On The Mark's first post about it, we just expected it to go away without a whimper.

At last, decent people like the Tillmans aren't just letting vile events like this simply slide off the teflon coating of this White House.

Devo said...

Y'know... what kinda surprises me even more than the audacity of this story is the fact that people are still surprised about ANY of the teflon-like properties of ANY presidential administration. Nixon: Watergate. Carter: an ineffectual idiot, until he stopped being president, at which point he transformed into a genius and a saint. Ford: who? Reagan: Iran, Contras, Nicaragua, Grenada, need I go on? Bush I: "Read My Lips, No New Taxes!" Clinton: "I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman" Bush II: Dunno where the hell to begin...

It all started with FDR, who, according to the History Channel, saved the country by lying, covering up and fabricating outrageious lies. That's what leaders do. Especially when they're leading so many damn people, most of whom, by the way, are complete freakin' morons and have no interest in truth, investigation or reality. Most of the individuals in our fair country (and this goes equally for crazy ass liberals as it does for crazier ass conservatives) only have an interest in furthering their particular agenda. That's usually fine, because our government is designed to balance out the differences in party politics, but when one party gains too much power (as it has several times in our country's history... take Roosevelt's Supreme Court stacking as an example of the flip side of what's happening now for example) these checks and balances get a lil' outta whack. It's up to level heads, like those who assemble this venerable blog, to raise consciousness and keep the voice of dissent at least audible, if not necessarily strong...

Anyway, to answer the overwhelming question of why people still trust Bush, I propose the answer: because he panders. That's what politicians do. They find the widest support base, get 'em all riled up, and then feed 'em some biscuits to keep 'em sitting obediently at their feet. Right now, the Religious Right is expanding exponentially. Millenialism has been on the rise in many different sects of many different religions since the middle of the 20th century. It's been our fault as arrogant city-folk that we havne't noticed it happening all along. In my opinion, instances like Jonestown, The Moonies, the Branch Davidians, The Hale-Bopp fruitcakes, snake handling Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostalists and those ridiulous best selling books about the End Days should have been blaring red flags signaling SOMETHING going wrong in the minds of America's big, fat Corn Belt. But we ignored it as it gained momentum. And now we're paying the price. They're everywhere, especially outside the shining white walls of our cities. And ain't nuthin gonna change their mind...

OK, rant over. Thanks for reading! And thanks for posting, On the Mark!

The Misanthrope said...

Right on Devo! A lot of the extremism we are seeing today has to do with people being scared. Unfortunately, politicians are taking advantage of that.

Chandira said...

Yeah. Good comment Devo.

I end up banging my head against the wall several times a day, and I live in liberal Seattle for Gods' sake..
THis country scares the Bejezus out of me sometimes. And it's spreading, I'm hearing ridiculous stories from the normally level-headed non-religious (or at best disinterested) English people. WTF?

On The Mark said...

Nice comment, Devo. You should consider writing these thoughts for a newspaper guest editorial.

I agree that extremism goes both ways. Currently, it's just the people on the right who are being especially crazy and obnoxious.