Pat Tillman: Who's sorry now?

August 01, 2007 by barbara

barbara writes

What’s the first thing that crosses your mind when BushCo or BushCo’s military holds a press conference?

The first thing that crosses my mind is, “What’s the cover-up du jour? What is fact and what is fiction? Who’s lying now?”

Case in point, the unfolding Pat Tillman story. Brief summary. Tillman was shot dead in Afghanistan. First we were told he was brought down by enemy fire, and he was awarded the silver star for bravery. But no, it later emerged he was killed by “friendly fire.” And more recently, there have been questions about whether that shooting was an accident.

We were told yesterday that the Army has censured a general for “a perfect storm of mistakes, misjudgments and a failure of leadership” surrounding Tillman’s death in 2004. In case you’re counting, that was three years ago. And what comes to mind immediately is that said general (Philip Kensinger) is the latest in a series of BushGoats. It’s not so much about doubt that he was a crappy leader. But the way this is playing out, Kensinger is being painted as the Lone Villain in the piece.

You know, you have to wonder what would have happened if the Tillman family had not held the Army’s feet to the fire about the circumstances of Pat’s death. Which leads you to wonder how much is happening in the BushCave that is as yet unknown and may never be. Yeah, I know. Click for more.

Here’s a snippet from this morning’s HuffPost article about Army Secretary Pete Geren’s presser:

In a stinging rebuke, Geren said Kensinger "failed to provide proper leadership to the soldiers under his administrative control" when the Army Ranger and former pro football star was killed in 2004.

Geren said that while Kensinger was "guilty of deception" in misleading investigators, there was no intentional Pentagon cover-up of circumstances surrounding Tillman's death _ at first categorized by the military as being from enemy fire.

"He let his soldiers down," Geren said at Pentagon news conference. "General Kensinger was the captain of that ship, and his ship ran aground."

Geren said he has directed a review panel of four-star generals to decide whether Kensinger, a three-star, should have his rank reduced. If Kensinger is demoted to major general, his monthly retirement pay of $9,400 would be cut by about $900, according to Army officials.

"Had he performed his job properly, had he performed his duty, we wouldn't be standing here today," Geren said.

Kensinger, who retired in February 2006, received a letter of censure from Geren that said he "subverted the trust" that had been placed in him and "caused lasting damage to the reputation and credibility of the U.S. Army."

Geren said he considered recommending a court-martial for Kensinger but ruled it out.

Kensinger, whose line of authority included the Army Rangers, also failed to properly notify the Tillman family a fratricide investigation had begun shortly after he was killed, did not initiate a required safety investigation.

{ snip }

Kensinger's lawyer, Charles W. Gittins . . . dismissed accusations that Kensinger should have told the Tillman family about the possibility of friendly fire, saying the retired general "was not the release authority for the information." That "release authority," Gittins said, was Gen. John Abizaid, then the head of Central Command.

Okay. It sounds as though Kensinger may have screwed up royally. But given BushCo’s penchant for dabbling on the dark side, I’m guessing there’s a reason why today's Tillman explanation doesn’t pass the smell test.

But wait! It’s going to get better. Truth and clarity are on the way this very day, in the shift-shaping Donald Rumsfeld. Oh, yeah, baby. Rumsfeld is going to testify to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is attempting to find out what the Pentagon knew and when. If this sounds disgustingly familiar, substitute “White House” for Pentagon.

And just so you know? Tillman’s regimental commander, Brigadier General James Nixon (oh, the irony!), received a "memorandum of concern" for his "well-intentioned but fundamentally incorrect decision" to keep information about Tillman's death limited to his staff. Memorandum of concern?? Crikey.

He could understand how the Tillman family and other Americans might reach the conclusion that there was a cover-up, Geren said.

"The facts just don't support this conclusion," he said. "There was no cover-up."

But he said, "We have made mistakes over and over and over, an incredible number of mistakes in handling this. We have destroyed our credibility in their eyes as well as in the eyes of others."

Tillman's family has insisted there was a cover-up that went as high as Rumsfeld. Geren was asked whether there was any indication Rumsfeld was aware that Tillman's death was by friendly fire before that information was made public.

"I have no knowledge of any evidence to that end," Geren replied.

Well, there’s the definitive word, eh? “I have no knowledge of any evidence to that end.”

These people are absolutely shameless.

UPDATE: Christy at Firedoglake points us to this poignant piece by Pat Tillman's brother, Kevin. Read it and . . . ponder.

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Anonymous (not verified) | March 28, 2009 - 2:11pm

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