Tillman Family Reacts to Army Investigation

The family of Pat Tillman has issued a press release in response to the findings I blogged about earlier today. Suffice to say, they are not pleased with the outcome:

The briefing we just received was shamefully unacceptable.

Our family is therefore compelled to continue our pursue (sic) the full truth about the circumstances of Pat Tillman’s death and the so-called “missteps” and “deficiencies” of Pat’s unit, the Army, the Department of Defense, and this administration.

The characterization of criminal negligence, professional misconduct, battlefield incompetence, concealment and destruction of evidence, deliberate deception, and conspiracy to deceive, are not “missteps.”

These actions are malfeasance.

[…]

The Army Regulation on the award of the Silver Star requires a detailed summary, confirmed by witness statements, of the exact circumstances of the event, which precipitates the award.

The award was directed before the unit had even returned from the field for debriefing.

The original draft of the award falsely claimed that Pat was killed by enemy fire, when Pat was not subjected to enemy fire throughout the entire incident.

We know, from sworn statements, that the draft was changed to exclude explicit reference to enemy fire – probably as a precautionary legal measure – while maintaining the impression that Pat was killed in an intense firefight with the enemy … which he was not.

The Army can still not cite a single instance of any Silver Star, before Pat, that was awarded in the case of fratricide, when the subject of the award was never fired upon by the enemy.

No one who knew Pat ever doubted his physical or moral courage.

But the award of the Silver Star appears more than anything to be part of a cynical design to conceal the real events from the family – but most especially, from the public – while exploiting the death of our beloved Pat as a recruitment poster.

You can read the whole thing here. Tillman’s family is no doubt much more aware of the facts surrounding this than I. If even a small part of their allegations are true, then that’s pretty disgusting behavior by the Pentagon. If a soldier dies in combat, the family is entitled to know the truth about that soldier’s death. And for the Pentagon to deliberately fabricate the circumstances surrounding a soldier’s death to score some PR points dishonors everyone who died in uniform.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, National Security, US Politics
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. ob1 says:

    If a soldier dies in combat, the family is entitled to know the truth about that soldier’s death.

    No, you are quite wrong. The family is not entitled to know anything. The family did not join the military, the man did. The military is obligated to the man not the family. Pat volunteered for the Rangers, and knew very well that he was entering a very secretive society. He accepted that secrecy as part of the deal.

  2. just me says:

    ob1 I am not sure I agree.

    I agree in the sense that the family doesn’t neccessarily deserve access to every detail. Some deaths occur under circumstances that are classified.

    But the family doesn’t deserve to be fed a false story the creates good PR for the military.

  3. Boyd says:

    Speaking as a career Navy man and the father of a Marine, what the hell are you talking about, ob1? Rangers sign on for the secrecy necessary to cover up their death by friendly fire?

    While there might be circumstances where your point is valid, it’s clear from everything the Army has released on Tillman’s death that this had nothing to do with some secret Ranger mission. Someone made a mistake (it happens), somebody died because of the mistake (very regrettable, but unfortunately, this happens, too), and somebody tried to cover up the mistake (dishonorable and inexcusable).

  4. Wayne says:

    I hate to go into this but there has been a long history of exaggerated or flat out lies in what an Officer tells a family. No one wants to hear that their child died from a mistake especially if that mistake was on the part of their child or that their child died because he happen to be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    There are many heroic efforts but many more just dumb luck circumstances. I have known some officers that will write a nice B.S. letter to the family when in actuality their son was total screw up of a soldier. Not to cover any thing up but to try to ease the family pain. Sometime they use example of their child heroic efforts on previous missions instead of “you son was standing there and was hit with a mortar round”. I’m sure some go to far but I understand their reasoning.

    Did the Tillman case take into account the P.R.? Probably, but it could have ended the same way even if it wasn’t in the press.

  5. bob in fl says:

    It is too bad these officers & politicians can’t be tried in a civilian criminal court. Obviously only enlisted troops face a court martial in the modern military, & not even they are if officers are at risk. at the very least, considering the evidence the Army has provided, every officer from the Company Commander up should be forced to resign their commissions.

    But they can be sued for wrong full death, obstruction of justice,& perhaps other reasons concerning the cover up. And in a civil proceeding, the burden of proof is lighter. Only a preponderance of the evidence is necessary for the verdict to favor the plaintiffs.

    This is another case of a government & military cover up that will be in the news for weeks. How much more bad press are the military & Administration willing impose upon themselves?

  6. Wayne says:

    Bob
    Officers have been court martial many times recently. Often for nothing they have done personally but because they are in command.

    This event occurred on foreign soil. The military is subject to the USMJ. Beyond what many liberals believe, US laws do not apply to the whole world. Even it did, what evidence do you have that there was a wrongful death or an obstruction of justice attempt. Friendly fire happens in war and training. No crime has been committed so it is hard to commit an obstruction of justice crime.

    Most likely they are guilty of trying to kind to a dead soldiers family. It sounds like you are just another hate the military and Bush liberal.

  7. ob1 says:

    Speaking as a career Navy man and the father of a Marine, what the hell are you talking about, ob1?

    Well, I am speaking as a former Infantryman (Army)…total time in service was 8 years. I am a Desert Storm Veteran. I also spent a bit more than 3 years in a Special Operations Unit. During that time, I carried a well-worn copy of the Ranger Handbook in my buttpack per my squad’s SOP. Even after all these years I can still recite the Ranger Creed. I am not/was not Ranger qualified but I served with plenty of them and know how they think.

    Rangers sign on for the secrecy necessary to cover up their death by friendly fire?

    I never said that or implied that. The original statement that I was referring to was a general claim about what a family was ‘entitled’ to. I responded with a general statement about secrecy.

    While there might be circumstances where your point is valid, it’s clear from everything the Army has released on Tillman’s death that this had nothing to do with some secret Ranger mission. Someone made a mistake (it happens), somebody died because of the mistake (very regrettable, but unfortunately, this happens, too), and somebody tried to cover up the mistake (dishonorable and inexcusable).

    Actually, there a MANY circumstances where it is true. The Rangers and all Special Ops troops live in a culture of secrecy. It is their default setting. It is real easy for those outside of the community to criticize that secrecy and try to tell them how to do it better, but those person’s asses are not on the line.

    I agree that this was handled poorly. I do not agree with the assertion that it was some conspiracy to cover up what happened. I also do not throw around a loaded term like “dishonorable” about those who I know almost nothing about and what info I do have is from media articles and/or interviews with (understandably) distraught relatives.

    The fact is that nothing will bring Pat back. Nothing will console the (again, understandably) distraught relatives. Holding a witchhunt will not serve anyone. The time/effort/money would be better spent training and equipping Rangers so that they can go out and kill this country’s enemies. Rangers are meant to fight not spend time in courtrooms.