International Herald Tribune Editorial - Corporal Pat Tillman haunts the Pentagon
Copyright by The International Herald Tribune
Published: April 27, 2007
Despite multiple investigations and hand-wringing by the Pentagon, the full truth has not emerged about the death of Corporal Pat Tillman, the football star turned infantryman who was accidentally shot dead down by other American soldiers in Afghanistan.
Details dribble out about how quick Army brass were to burn his battle uniform, concoct tales of heroism and go into a full public relations blitz.
At a House of Representatives hearing, a buddy who witnessed Tillman's death told of being ordered not to tell his family that "friendly fire" was the cause. (An early report by this witness was doctored by someone in the military in awarding Tillman the Silver Star, a medal for heroism.)
The truth was evident, yet the family was not told for five weeks, until after the corporal was mourned in a nationally televised funeral as a soldier killed by terrorists.
The pain inflicted by the Pentagon's mendacious account was evident in the maternal gaze of Mary Tillman as she pleaded at the hearing for investigators to search unstintingly up the chain of command to track the cover-up that victimized her son. The truth remains elusive and eats at so many other tales of war.
Mary Tillman properly asks whether her son was exploited through official lies to offset such bad war news as prisoner abuses by the military. The Army has singled out a number of officers, including four generals, for possible disciplinary action, but says the cover-up goes no higher.
Congress must press forward, particularly in tracking an officer's memo sent to superiors in Washington a week after the tragedy to ask that word of the likely finding of friendly fire be quietly passed on to White House and Pentagon officials.
The nation, like the Tillman family, deserves nothing less than the full truth of war.