Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pat Tillman story

Alternet writer Michael Shapiro has an excellent story about Pat Tillman and the lies and spin of the Bush Administrations support of our troops.

Even before his death, Tillman was considered a model of self - sacrifice,
integrity and decency, not just for his commitment to his country, but for his
intellect, forthrightness, and enthusiasm. Which makes what the U.S. military
told Tillman's family about Pat's death that much more appalling.

Tillman was the poster child for the Bushies. I remember hearing about Tillman leaving the NFL to become an Army Ranger and I instantly had a great deal of respect for him. Ranger School is no joke. Living the life of an Army Ranger is not easy either, it's a significant commitment and in reality, the polar opposite of the life of a professional athlete.

Many see military life as a high risk and low reward venture. If you purely look at it from a compensation perspective, that would be true. But the reward of serving one's nation in such a selfless and integrity filled way provides a reward no one can put a price on. Tillman gave up the low risk high reward lifestyle for something I loved for more than a decade.

He is a hero.

Heroes deserve more than lies and spin.

Pat's brother Kevin testified recently before Congress.

"This story inspired countless Americans, as intended," but "there was one
small problem with the narrative," Tillman told the Congressional Oversight
panel. "It was utter fiction."

"A terrible tragedy that might have further undermined support for the war
in Iraq," Kevin Tillman said, "was transformed into an inspirational message
that served instead to support the ... wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Brave actions of our fighting men and women became soundbites and PR spin for GOP leadership.

The same Congressional Committee heard testimony from Jessica Lynch as well.

At the April 24 Congressional Oversight hearing, Jessica Lynch, portrayed
in spring 2003 as the "little girl Rambo from the hills of West Virginia who
went down fighting," testified that the story the military told about her was a
blatant lie. Lynch never fired a shot when her caravan was ambushed. After being
severely wounded she was kept alive by Iraqi doctors and nurses.

Most shocking: according to sworn testimony during the Oversight
Committee's hearing, Lynch's "rescue" from the Iraqi hospital was delayed by a
day so that the Army could bring in camera crews. After stating Lynch was being
held by hostile forces, the military waited 24 hours to rescue her so they could
make a propaganda film.

Think about that for a moment.

The military delayed a rescue attempt for Jessica Lynch so that it could be staged and videotaped?

Insanity! Sheer insanity! Imagine staging photo ops on Hambuger Hill or in the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam, at the Battle of Inchon in the Korean War, or the Battle of Normandy. Waiting 24 hours to rescue US wounded so that a group of political ideologues can obtain sufficient footage to perpetuate their war.

That's what's happening in Iraq today.

Peter Phillips, the director of Project Censored at Sonoma State University, says the Pentagon has spent $1 billion on public relations firms to create stories that protect or enhance the image of the military. PR firms "will lie for their clients; that's what they do," Phillips says. "The news coming out of Iraq is very much packaged by PR firms and embedded reporters."

How much did Matt Sanchez get?

$1 billion spent...and they are still losing in the PR dept.

As we all know now, Tillman's death was covered up by the military.

Tillman's father, Patrick Tillman believes senior Army officers told "outright lies" about his son's death. In 2005 he told the Washington Post: "All the people in positions of authority went out of their way to script this. 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," the elder Tillman said.

Lies and spin...that's how our GOP leadership treats our nations fighting men and women and their families.

Tillman's mother speaks out!

"Pat's death is just a microcosm of what's happening in this country: the lies, the spinning." Mary Tillman said. "This exemplifies the way the [Bush] Administration handles everything. They're incompetent yet no one is held accountable. The documents were falsified -- but who are these people? What are you going to do about it?"

Mary Tillman, a registered Republican, said "the personalities in office now are dangerous." She believes former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a micromanager, had to know before Pat's memorial that her son was killed by friendly fire. Rumsfeld had written a short letter to her son and was well aware of Pat's celebrity. "He was probably the most high-profile individual in the military at the time," she said. "The fact that he would be killed by friendly fire and no one would tell Rumsfeld is ludicrous."

We still may be fighting World War II if the Bush Administration was in charge. We have no Patton's, Bradley's and MacArthur's and Eisenhower's! Bush simply fires any General who does not abide by the neo-con way of running a war.

Don't believe me? Ask General Shinseki!

And when you don't agree with the neo-con methods...they attack the family of the deceased soldier. While the Pentagon labels the Tillman's as "the family from hell", Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, who directed the first official inquiry into Tillman's death states
"These people have a hard time letting it go. It may be because of their religious beliefs." Noting that Kevin Tillman declined to have a chaplain say prayers over Pat's body, Kauzlarich said: "When you die, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt."


While Tillman was the "poster child", other families have been deceived as well.

Karen Meredith lost her only child, Lt. Ken Ballard, on May 30, 2004, just days after the military admitted that Tillman had died from friendly fire. Speaking at Ballard's memorial service, an officer said Ballard's heroics saved the lives of 60 men. Ballard was awarded the Bronze Star.

"The officer said how Ken fought and fought to cover for two platoons so they could get back to base," Meredith said. "Given his heroism I questioned why Ken was not given the Silver Star (a higher honor than the bronze star). He said the Silver Star was very rare. I didn't trust them but I was still grieving and thought I'd have time to think about that later. I vowed that Ken would get every award he deserved so I started asking for the incident report."

Fifteen months after her son died and after repeated inquiries by Meredith, Lt. Col. John O'Brien, the head of the Army casualty division, visited her at her home. O'Brien told her that Ballard was killed by an accidental discharge of the unmanned M-240 machine gun on his tank.

The lies around this war never stop. Despite the lies, deceit, and deliberate political spin, we can't put an end to this clusterfuck we call Iraq.

2008 can't come soon enough...and probably 5,000 soldiers too late.


Mark said...

Just discovered your blog and am impressed with it for the most part. I'm an expatriate of Minnesota and am familiar with the area you're from and sympathize with being surrounded by Republicans. For whatever reason, I know your specific hometown of Annandale (nice town by the way) is a blue island in that ocean of red. Any insights as to why Annandale has resisted the red tide sweeping most of western exurbia?

My grievance with your blog...and it's a big the irrational anti-tobacco militance, which I find problematic from an ethical and a political standpoint, even though I'm a lifelong nonsmoker. As I perused your blog, I became increasingly disgusted by the seemingly endless barrage of antismoking hysteria, which endorsed a worldview and a supporting checklist of policies that I deem antithetical to progressivism.

Sorry for not commenting on the topic at hand, but thought it best to introduce myself in the most recent thread.


Charley Underwood said...

Dear Blue Man,

Thanks so much for the links to military blogs, which I might not have discovered otherwise.

On the topic of Jessica Lynch, I have read since shortly after her dramatic "rescue" that Iraqi doctors tried to send her back but that the ambulance was fired on by the U.S. military. Since the Iraqis reportedly had contacted U.S. authorities beforehand, the whole incident seemed strange from the beginning.

Have you also read that?

CW said...

Amazing article, thanks. I worked in Iraq as a civilian contractor for 34 months. The impression that bums me out the most - is the same as that reflected in this article. The military has been both used and hyped up to such a degree that it is like the elephant in the room. The whole time I was there, everyone was always about "don't trust the Iraqis" ... "be especially vigilant at Iraqi checkpoints". The soldiers only talked of them derisively as 'hajiis'. There is no accountability anymore because anything and everything associated with the military is supposed to be 'heroic' and 'courageous'. It will take us decades and decades to recover from all this disgusting propaganda.