Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pat Tillman: Patriot, Hero, Victim, Martyr

The death of Pat Tillman is becoming one of the most compelling stories of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This week's report of circumstances surrounding his death raise more questions than answers about how he was killed.


The latest inquiry into Tillman's death by friendly fire should end next month; authorities have said they intend to release to the public only a synopsis of their report. But The Associated Press has combed through the results of 2 1/4 years of investigations — reviewed thousands of pages of internal Army documents, interviewed dozens of people familiar with the case — and uncovered some startling findings.

One of the four shooters, Staff Sgt. Trevor Alders, had recently had PRK laser eye surgery. He said although he could see two sets of hands "straight up," his vision was "hazy." In the absence of "friendly identifying signals," he assumed Tillman and an allied Afghan who also was killed were enemy.

Another, Spc. Steve Elliott, said he was "excited" by the sight of rifles, muzzle flashes and "shapes." A third, Spc. Stephen Ashpole, said he saw two figures, and just aimed where everyone else was shooting.

Squad leader Sgt. Greg Baker had 20-20 eyesight, but claimed he had "tunnel vision." Amid the chaos and pumping adrenaline, Baker said he hammered what he thought was the enemy but was actually the allied Afghan fighter next to Tillman who was trying to give the Americans cover: "I zoned in on him because I could see the AK-47. I focused only on him."

All four failed to identify their targets before firing, a direct violation of the fire discipline techniques drilled into every soldier.

More at the link, including

*Tillman's platoon had nearly run out of vital supplies...

*A key commander in the events that led to Tillman's death both was reprimanded for his role and meted out punishments to those who fired...

*...someone tried to jump-start Tillman's heart with CPR hours after his head had been partly blown off...key evidence including Tillman's body armor and uniform was burned.

*...some of those involved now have lawyers and refused to cooperate...

Ugly picture, so far. "[A]uthorities have said they intend to release to the public only a synopsis of their report..." Wonder why.

H/T Truthout for the link.

Tillman's brother, Kevin, enlisted at the same time that Pat did and has expressed sad regrets.

No need for me to say much. This story speaks for itself. All the spinning in the world will not return Pat Tillman to his family.
"A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." That was Joseph Stalin speaking, incidentally, not someone from the Defense Department. They would point out that US casualties in this war are way lower than other wars. Makes you feel all better, no?

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