Monday, September 26, 2005

Killing In The Name

So if 100,000 anti-war protesters (who unfortunately allowed themselves to be infiltrated by the likes of "Free Mumia" morons and other assorted off-message shitheads) are off the conservatard radar, how about the grieving parents of genuine fallen American hero Pat Tillman?

As she pores through testimony from three previous Army investigations into the killing of her son, former football star Pat Tillman, by his fellow Army Rangers last year in Afghanistan, she hopes that a new inquiry launched in August by the Pentagon’s inspector general finally will answer the family’s questions:

Were witnesses allowed to change their testimony on key details, as alleged by one investigator? Why did internal documents on the case, such as the initial casualty report, include false information? When did top Pentagon officials know that Tillman’s death was caused by friendly fire, and why did they delay for five weeks before informing his family?

Those are all excellent questions, and it's funny that the folks that profess to be the most intense about "supporting the troops" seem to be the least intense about finding out the facts about stories like this. Do they not think that Pat Tillman deserves at least the same consideration they give their Expedition?

Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known — a fiercely independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests ranged from history books on World War II and Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam Chomsky, a favorite author.

Holy fuckin' shit. From Churchill to Chomsky; how 'bout that? No doubt Dear Leader has read neither of those people, but no matter. What's significant about Tillman reading Chomsky is that it discredits the usual conservatard tropes about Chomsky. Of course, they never read Chomsky in the first place; it would have cut into their Hannity & Colmes time.

A football star at Leland High School in San Jose and at Arizona State University, Tillman was chosen Pac-10 defensive player of the year in 1997 and selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL draft the following spring.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Arizona State and graduated summa cum laude in 3 1/2 years with a 3.84 grade point average. Ever the student, Tillman not only memorized the playbook by the time he reported for the Cardinals’ rookie camp but pointed out errors in it. He then worked on a master’s degree in history while playing professional football.

His 224 tackles in a single season (2000) are a team record, and because of team loyalty he rejected a five year, $9 million offer from the St. Louis Rams for a one-year, $512,000 contract to stay with Arizona the next year.

Moved in part by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Tillman decided to give up his career, saying he wanted to fight al Qaeda and help find Osama bin Laden. He spurned the Cardinals’ offer of a three year, $3.6 million contract extension and joined the Army in June 2002 along with his brother Kevin, who was playing minor-league baseball for the Cleveland Indians organization.

Pat Tillman’s enlistment grabbed the attention of the nation — and the highest levels of the Bush administration. A personal letter from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, thanking him for serving his country, now resides in a storage box, put away by Pat’s widow, Marie.

Fuck. You know, let's put away the childish nicknames for two seconds and be 100% serious here -- Bush and Rumsfeld and the rest of them are unqualified even to carry the jockstrap of a loyal, intelligent man like Pat Tillman. Okay? Pure and simple, folks. I think about some wannabe cowboy, fucking ofay Yalie flunkie like George W. Bush even mentioning the name of someone like Tillman, and it makes me sick to my stomach. He doesn't have the goddamned right, you know?

Tillman’s death came at a sensitive time for the Bush administration — just a week before the Army’s abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq became public and sparked a huge scandal. The Pentagon immediately announced that Tillman had died heroically in combat with the enemy, and President Bush hailed him as “an inspiration on and off the football field, as with all who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror.”

His killing was widely reported by the media, including conservative commentators such as Ann Coulter, who called him “an American original — virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be.” His May 3, 2004, memorial in San Jose drew 3,500 people and was nationally televised.

Not until five weeks later, as Tillman’s battalion was returning home, did officials inform the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by his fellow soldiers.

According to testimony, the first investigation was initiated less than 24 hours after Tillman’s death by an officer in the same Ranger battalion. His report, delivered May 4, 2004, determined that soldiers involved in the incident had committed “gross negligence” and should be appropriately disciplined. The officer became a key witness in the subsequent investigation. For reasons that are not clear, the officer’s investigation was taken over by a higher ranking commander. That officer’s findings, delivered the next month, called for less severe discipline.

The parents, protesting that many questions were left unanswered, found a sympathetic ear in McCain, who Mary Tillman later said was greatly admired by her son. Tillman was well known in Arizona because of his success there as a college and pro football player. McCain began to press the Pentagon on the family’s behalf, and a third probe finally was authorized. Its report was delivered in January.

The military is saying little publicly about the Tillman case. Most Army personnel who were involved in the Tillman incident or the investigations declined to comment publicly when contacted by The Chronicle. The inspector general’s press office also declined to comment, saying only that the new probe is openended.

Yeah. "Openended". Translation: we need more time to get our story straight, and finish redacting the incriminating documents.

This is disgusting. Not only did they knowingly cover up the circumstances of Tillman's death, but Bush and the Pentagon -- with full knowledge of this, we should assume -- went ahead and used him as a prop for their stupid little misadventure in Iraq. The fact that Tillman specifically wanted Afghanistan, and considered Iraq a diversion form the real mission, just seals it.

Mary Tillman said a friend of Pat’s even arranged a private meeting with Chomsky, the antiwar author, to take place after his return from Afghanistan — a meeting prevented by his death. She said that although he supported the Afghan war, believing it justified by the Sept. 11 attacks, “Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq war.”

Baer, who served with Tillman for more than a year in Iraq and Afghanistan, told one anecdote that took place during the March 2003 invasion as the Rangers moved up through southern Iraq.

“I can see it like a movie screen,” Baer said. “We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq) watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we weren’t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ‘You know, this war is so f— illegal.’ And we all said, ‘Yeah.’ That’s who he was. He totally was against Bush.”

Another soldier in the platoon, who asked not to be identified, said Pat urged him to vote for Bush’s Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, Sen. John Kerry.

There's your prop, motherfuckers -- how do you like him now? Me, I wouldn't change my opinion of Pat Tillman even if it had turned out he was a Bush-booster. I wouldn't understand it, but I remember very well how he conducted himself on and off the field in the NFL. That doesn't seem like much at first blush, but when you consider that the league is littered with greedy malcontents who milk their contracts and disrespect their fans, Pat Tillman's attitude was truly exemplary. I knew perfectly well who he was long before he joined the Rangers -- a stand-up guy who played every play like it was his last, and was loyal to his team to a fault.

Bush's America is not terribly unlike the chronically dysfunctional, poorly-coached Arizona Cardinals team that Pat Tillman stuck it out for. It's time to change coaches, and let there be no doubt that Pat Tillman -- who exhibited more character and courage in his brief life than the likes of George W. Bush and his lackeys can even comprehend -- would want it that way.

If we had a functioning opposition party, they would seize upon these facts, help the Tillmans find out the truth about what happened to their son, and make that their goal -- if not their slogan -- for '06 and '08: Do it for Pat.


Anonymous said...

Hey, excellent website. A great Iraq resource is Deaths in Iraq. It breaks all of the casualties down by age, race, branch of the military, country, etc.

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