He was against the Iraq occupation.
> From: "Pierce R. Butler" <email@example.com>
> Date: 2005/09/27 Tue PM 12:45:59 EDT
> To: CCAWTtalk@yahoogroups.com
> Subject: Pat Tillman, Chomsky, & Pentagon coverups
> FAMILY DEMANDS THE TRUTH
> New inquiry may expose events that led to Pat Tillman's death
> Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer
> Sunday, September 25, 2005
> The battle between a grieving family and the U.S.
> military justice system is on display in
> thousands of pages of documents strewn across
> Mary Tillman's dining room table in suburban San
> As she pores through testimony from three
> previous Army investigations into the killing of
> her son, former football star Pat Tillman, by his
> fellow Army Rangers last year in Afghanistan, she
> hopes that a new inquiry launched in August by
> the Pentagon's inspector general finally will
> answer the family's questions:
> Were witnesses allowed to change their testimony
> on key details, as alleged by one investigator?
> Why did internal documents on the case, such as
> the initial casualty report, include false
> information? When did top Pentagon officials know
> that Tillman's death was caused by friendly fire,
> and why did they delay for five weeks before
> informing his family?
> "There have been so many discrepancies so far
> that it's hard to know what to believe," Mary
> Tillman said. "There are too many murky details."
> The files the family received from the Army in
> March are heavily censored, with nearly every
> page containing blacked-out sections; most names
> have been deleted. (Names for this story were
> provided by sources close to the investigation.)
> At least one volume was withheld altogether from
> the family, and even an Army press release given
> to the media has deletions. On her copies, Mary
> Tillman has added competing marks and scrawls -
> countless color-coded tabs and angry notes such
> as "Contradiction!" "Wrong!" and "????"
> A Chronicle review of more than 2,000 pages of
> testimony, as well as interviews with Pat
> Tillman's family members and soldiers who served
> with him, found contradictions, inaccuracies and
> what appears to be the military's attempt at
> For example, the documents contain testimony of
> the first investigating officer alleging that
> Army officials allowed witnesses to change key
> details in their sworn statements so his finding
> that certain soldiers committed "gross
> negligence" could be softened.
> Interviews also show a side of Pat Tillman not
> widely known - a fiercely independent thinker who
> enlisted, fought and died in service to his
> country yet was critical of President Bush and
> opposed the war in Iraq, where he served a tour
> of duty. He was an avid reader whose interests
> ranged from history books on World War II and
> Winston Churchill to works of leftist Noam
> Chomsky, a favorite author.
> Unlike Cindy Sheehan - who has protested against
> President Bush because of the death of her son
> Casey in combat in Baghdad - Mary Tillman, 49,
> who teaches in a San Jose public junior high
> school, and her ex-husband, Patrick Tillman, 50,
> a San Jose lawyer, have avoided association with
> the anti-war movement. Their main public allies
> are Sen. John McCain, RAriz., and Rep. Mike
> Honda, D-San Jose, who have lobbied on their
> behalf. Yet the case has high stakes because of
> Pat Tillman's status as an all-American hero.
> A football star at Leland High School in San
> Jose and at Arizona State University, Tillman was
> chosen Pac-10 defensive player of the year in
> 1997 and selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the
> NFL draft the following spring.
> He earned a bachelor's degree in marketing from
> Arizona State and graduated summa cum laude in 3
> 1/2 years with a 3.84 grade point average. Ever
> the student, Tillman not only memorized the
> playbook by the time he reported for the
> Cardinals' rookie camp but pointed out errors in
> it. He then worked on a master's degree in
> history while playing professional football.
> His 224 tackles in a single season (2000) are a
> team record, and because of team loyalty he
> rejected a five year, $9 million offer from the
> St. Louis Rams for a one-year, $512,000 contract
> to stay with Arizona the next year.
> Moved in part by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
> attacks, Tillman decided to give up his career,
> saying he wanted to fight al Qaeda and help find
> Osama bin Laden. He spurned the Cardinals' offer
> of a three year, $3.6 million contract extension
> and joined the Army in June 2002 along with his
> brother Kevin, who was playing minor-league
> baseball for the Cleveland Indians organization.
> Pat Tillman's enlistment grabbed the attention
> of the nation - and the highest levels of the
> Bush administration. A personal letter from
> Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, thanking
> him for serving his country, now resides in a
> storage box, put away by Pat's widow, Marie.
> Instead of going to Afghanistan, as the brothers
> expected, their Ranger battalion was sent to
> participate in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in
> March 2003. The Tillmans saw combat several times
> on their way to Baghdad. In early 2004, they
> finally were assigned to Afghanistan.
> Although the Rangers are an elite combat group,
> the investigative documents reveal that the
> conduct of the Tillmans' detachment - A Company,
> 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment - appeared to
> be anything but expert as it advanced through a
> remote canyon in eastern Afghanistan on April 22,
> 2004, on a mission to search for Taliban and al
> Qaeda fighters in a village called Manah.
> According to the files, when one of the humvees
> became disabled, thus stalling the mission,
> commanding officers split Tillman's platoon in
> two so one half could move on and the other could
> arrange transport for the disabled vehicle.
> Platoon leader Lt. David Uthlaut protested the
> move as dangerous, but he was overruled. The
> first group was ordered out in the late
> afternoon, with Pat Tillman in the forward unit.
> Kevin's unit followed 15 to 20 minutes later,
> hauling the humvee on an Afghan-owned flatbed
> truck. Both groups temporarily lost radio and
> visual contact with each other in the deep
> canyon, and the second group came under attack
> from suspected Taliban fighters on the
> surrounding ridges.
> Pat Tillman, according to testimony, climbed a
> hill with another soldier and an Afghan
> militiaman, intending to attack the enemy. He
> offered to remove his 28-pound body armor so he
> could move more quickly, but was ordered not to.
> Meanwhile, the lead vehicle in the platoon's
> second group arrived near Tillman's position
> about 65 meters away and mistook the group as
> enemy. The Afghan stood and fired above the
> second group at the suspected enemy on the
> opposite ridge. Although the driver of the second
> group's lead vehicle, according to his testimony,
> recognized Tillman's group as "friendlies" and
> tried to signal others in his vehicle not to
> shoot, they directed fire toward the Afghan and
> began shooting wildly, without first identifying
> their target, and also shot at a village on the
> The Afghan was killed. According to testimony,
> Tillman, who along with others on the hill waved
> his arms and yelled "cease fire," set off a smoke
> grenade to identify his group as fellow soldiers.
> There was a momentary lull in the firing, and he
> and the soldier next to him, thinking themselves
> safe, relaxed, stood up and started talking. But
> the shooting resumed. Tillman was hit in the
> wrist with shrapnel and in his body armor with
> numerous bullets.
> The soldier next to him testified: "I could hear
> the pain in his voice as he called out, 'Cease
> fire, friendlies, I am Pat f-ing Tillman,
> dammit." He said this over and over until he
> stopped," having been hit by three bullets in the
> forehead, killing him.
> The soldier continued, "I then looked over at my
> side to see a river of blood coming down from
> where he was Š I saw his head was gone." Two
> other Rangers elsewhere on the mountainside were
> injured by shrapnel.
> Kevin was unaware that his brother had been
> killed until nearly an hour later when he asked
> if anyone had seen Pat and a fellow soldier told
> Tillman's death came at a sensitive time for the
> Bush administration - just a week before the
> Army's abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq
> became public and sparked a huge scandal. The
> Pentagon immediately announced that Tillman had
> died heroically in combat with the enemy, and
> President Bush hailed him as "an inspiration on
> and off the football field, as with all who made
> the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror."
> His killing was widely reported by the media,
> including conservative commentators such as Ann
> Coulter, who called him "an American original -
> virtuous, pure and masculine like only an
> American male can be." His May 3, 2004, memorial
> in San Jose drew 3,500 people and was nationally
> Not until five weeks later, as Tillman's
> battalion was returning home, did officials
> inform the public and the Tillman family that he
> had been killed by his fellow soldiers.
> According to testimony, the first investigation
> was initiated less than 24 hours after Tillman's
> death by an officer in the same Ranger battalion.
> His report, delivered May 4, 2004, determined
> that soldiers involved in the incident had
> committed "gross negligence" and should be
> appropriately disciplined. The officer became a
> key witness in the subsequent investigation. For
> reasons that are not clear, the officer's
> investigation was taken over by a higher ranking
> commander. That officer's findings, delivered the
> next month, called for less severe discipline.
> The parents, protesting that many questions were
> left unanswered, found a sympathetic ear in
> McCain, who Mary Tillman later said was greatly
> admired by her son. Tillman was well known in
> Arizona because of his success there as a college
> and pro football player. McCain began to press
> the Pentagon on the family's behalf, and a third
> probe finally was authorized. Its report was
> delivered in January.
> The military is saying little publicly about the
> Tillman case. Most Army personnel who were
> involved in the Tillman incident or the
> investigations declined to comment publicly when
> contacted by The Chronicle. The inspector
> general's press office also declined to comment,
> saying only that the new probe is openended.
> Over the coming weeks, Pentagon investigators
> are scheduled to carry out new interviews with
> many of the soldiers, officers and others
> involved in the incident. As they carry out their
> reassessment, potentially controversial points
> -- Conflicting testimony. In his Nov. 14, 2004,
> interrogation, the first investigator expressed
> frustration with "watching some of these guys
> getting off, what I thought Š was a lesser of a
> punishment than what they should've received. And
> I will tell you, over a period of time Š the
> stories have changed. They have changed to, I
> think, help some individuals."
> The investigator testified that after he
> submitted his report on May 3, higher-ranking
> officers permitted soldiers to change key details
> of their testimony in order to prevent any
> individual from being singled out for punishment.
> "They had the entire chain of command
> (inaudible) that were involved, the [deleted],
> all sticking up for [deleted] Š And the reason
> the [deleted] called me in Š because the
> [deleted] Š changed their story in how things
> occurred and the timing and the distance in an
> attempt to stick up for their counterpart,
> implied, insinuated that the report wasn't as
> accurate as I submitted it Š" the first
> investigator testified.
> In another section of his testimony, he said
> witnesses changed details regarding "the
> distance, the time, the location and the
> positioning" in Tillman's killing.
> Another disputed detail was whether the soldiers
> were firing while speeding down the canyon or
> whether they stopped, got out and continued
> shooting. In testimony in the third
> investigation, the soldiers said they did not
> stop. However, the medical examiner's report said
> Tillman was killed by three bullets closely
> spaced in his forehead - a pattern that would
> have been unlikely if the shooter were moving
> fast. Spc. Russell Baer, a soldier pinned down by
> gunfire on the hillside near Tillman, said in an
> interview with The Chronicle that at least two
> soldiers had gotten out of the humvee to fire
> uphill. One other soldier confirmed this account
> to a Tillman family member.
> One soldier dismissed by the Rangers for his
> actions in the incident submitted a statement in
> the third investigation that suggests the probe
> was incomplete: "The investigation does not truly
> set to rest the events of the evening of 22 April
> 2004. There is critical information not included
> or misinterpreted in it that could shed some
> light on who is really at fault for this," he
> -- Commanders' accountability. According to the
> documents and interviews, Capt. William Saunders,
> to whom platoon leader Uthlaut had protested
> splitting his troops, was allowed to change his
> testimony over a crucial detail - whether he had
> reported Uthlaut's dissent to a higher ranking
> commander. In initial questioning, Saunders said
> he had done so, but when that apparently was
> contradicted by that commander's testimony,
> Saunders was threatened with perjury charges. He
> was given immunity and allowed to change his
> prior testimony.
> The regiment's commander, Lt. Col. Jeffrey
> Bailey, was promoted to colonel two months after
> the incident, and Saunders, who a source said
> received a reprimand, later was given authority
> to determine the punishment of those below him.
> He gave administrative reprimands to six
> soldiers, including Uthlaut, who had been
> seriously wounded in the face by shrapnel in the
> incident. Uthlaut - who was first captain of his
> senior class at West Point, the academy's highest
> honor - was dismissed from the Rangers and
> re-entered the regular Army.
> "It seems grossly inappropriate that Saunders
> would determine punishment for the others when he
> shares responsibility for the debacle," Mary
> Tillman said.
> Baer told The Chronicle that commanding officers
> were to blame for the friendly fire because they
> split the platoon and ordered it to leave a
> secure location in favor of a region known as a
> Taliban stronghold.
> "It was dumb to send us out during daylight,"
> said Baer, who was honorably discharged from the
> Rangers earlier this year and lives in the East
> "It's a well-known military doctrine that
> privates first learn going through basic training
> - if you are in enemy territory and you are
> stopped for a prolonged period of time, the best
> thing to do is to wait until nightfall. Why they
> thought that moving us out in broad daylight from
> our position, dragging a busted humvee slowly
> through a known hotspot after we had been
> stranded there all day was a good idea will
> forever elude me. Who made that decision? Bailey?
> Saunders? That's what I want to know."
> -- Inaccurate information. While the military
> code gives clear guidance for informing family
> members upon a soldier's death when cases are
> suspected of being a result of friendly fire,
> that procedure was not followed in the Tillman
> case. After Tillman's death, the Army gave
> conflicting and incorrect descriptions of the
> On April 22, the family was told that Tillman
> was hit with enemy fire getting out of a vehicle
> and died an hour later at a field hospital.
> Although there was ample testimony that Tillman
> died immediately, an Army report - dated April
> 22, 2004, from the field hospital in Salerno,
> Afghanistan, where his body was taken - suggested
> otherwise. While it stated that he had no blood
> pressure or pulse "on arrival," it stated that
> cardio pulmonary resuscitation had been conducted
> and that he was transferred to the intensive care
> unit for further CPR.
> On April 23, all top Ranger commanders were told
> of the suspected fratricide. That same day, an
> Army press release said he was killed "when his
> patrol vehicle came under attack."
> On April 29, four days before Tillman's
> memorial, Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S.
> Central Command, and other top commanders were
> told of the fratricide. It is not known if
> Abizaid reported the news to Washington. Mary
> Tillman believes that with her son's high
> profile, and the fact that Rumsfeld sent him a
> personal letter, the word quickly reached the
> defense secretary. "If Pat was on Rumsfeld's
> radar, it's pretty likely that he would have been
> informed right away after he was killed," she
> said. White House, Pentagon and Army spokesmen
> all said they had no information on when Bush or
> Rumsfeld were informed.
> On April 30, the Army awarded Tillman a Silver
> Star medal for bravery, saying that "through the
> firing Tillman's voice was heard issuing fire
> commands to take the fight to the enemy on the
> dominating high ground."
> On May 2, the acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee was told of the
> On May 7, the Army's official casualty report
> stated incorrectly that Tillman was killed by
> "enemy forces" and "died in a medical treatment
> On May 28, the Army finally admitted to
> Tillman's family that he had been killed by
> friendly fire.
> "The administration clearly was using this case
> for its own political reasons," said the father,
> Patrick Tillman. "This cover-up started within
> minutes of Pat's death, and it started at high
> levels. This is not something that
> (lower-ranking) people in the field do," he said.
> The files show that many of the soldiers
> questioned in the inquiry said it was common
> knowledge that the incident involved friendly
> A soldier who on April 23 burned Tillman's
> bullet riddled body armor - which would have been
> evidence in a friendly-fire investigation -
> testified that he did so because there was no
> doubt it was friendly fire that killed Tillman.
> Two days later, Tillman's uniform and vest also
> were burned because they were soaked in blood and
> considered a biohazard. Tillman's uniform also
> was burned.
> The officer who led the first investigation
> testified that when he was given responsibility
> for the probe the morning after Tillman's death,
> he was informed that the cause was "potential
> After they received the friendly-fire
> notification May 28, the Tillmans began a public
> campaign seeking more information. But it was
> only when the Tillmans began angrily accusing the
> Pentagon of a coverup, in June 2005, that the
> Army apologized for the delay, issuing a
> statement blaming "procedural misjudgments and
> -- Legal liability. In testimony on Nov. 14, the
> officer who conducted the first investigation
> said that he thought some Rangers could have been
> charged with "criminal intent," and that some
> Rangers committed "gross negligence." The legal
> difference between the two terms is roughly
> similar to the distinction between murder and
> involuntary manslaughter.
> The Tillmans demand that all avenues of inquiry remain open.
> "I want to know what kind of criminal intent
> there was," Mary Tillman said. "There's so much
> in the reports that is (deleted) that it's hard
> to tell what we're not seeing."
> In Congress, pressure is building for a full
> public disclosure of what happened. "I am
> committed to continuing my work with the Tillman
> family to ensure that their concerns are being
> addressed," said Rep. Honda. He added that he
> expects the investigation to do the following:
> "1) provide all factual evidence about the events
> of April 22, 2004; 2) identify the command
> decisions that contributed to Pat Tillman's
> death; 3) explain why the Army took so long to
> reveal fratricide as the cause of Pat Tillman's
> death; and 4) offer all necessary recommendations
> for improved procedures relating to such
> Patrick Tillman drily called the new Army probe
> "the latest, greatest investigation." He added,
> "In Washington, I don't think any of them want it
> investigated. They (politicians and Army
> officials) just don't want to see it ended with
> them, landing on their desk so they get blamed
> for the cover-up." The January 2005 investigation
> concluded that there was no coverup.
> Throughout the controversy, the Tillman family
> has been reluctant to cause a media stir. Mary
> noted that Pat shunned publicity, refusing all
> public comment when he enlisted and asking the
> Army to reject all media requests for interviews
> while he was in service. Pat's widow, Marie, and
> his brother Kevin have not become publicly
> involved in the case, and they declined to
> comment for this article.
> Yet other Tillman family members are less
> reluctant to show Tillman's unique character,
> which was more complex than the public image of a
> gung-ho patriotic warrior. He started keeping a
> journal at 16 and continued the practice on the
> battlefield, writing in it regularly. (His
> journal was lost immediately after his death.)
> Mary Tillman said a friend of Pat's even arranged
> a private meeting with Chomsky, the antiwar
> author, to take place after his return from
> Afghanistan - a meeting prevented by his death.
> She said that although he supported the Afghan
> war, believing it justified by the Sept. 11
> attacks, "Pat was very critical of the whole Iraq
> Baer, who served with Tillman for more than a
> year in Iraq and Afghanistan, told one anecdote
> that took place during the March 2003 invasion as
> the Rangers moved up through southern Iraq.
> "I can see it like a movie screen," Baer said.
> "We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq)
> watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We
> were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we
> weren't in the fight right then. We were talking.
> And Pat said, 'You know, this war is so f-
> illegal.' And we all said, 'Yeah.' That's who he
> was. He totally was against Bush."
> Another soldier in the platoon, who asked not to
> be identified, said Pat urged him to vote for
> Bush's Democratic opponent in the 2004 election,
> Sen. John Kerry.
> Senior Chief Petty Officer Stephen White - a
> Navy SEAL who served with Pat and Kevin for four
> months in Iraq and was the only military member
> to speak at Tillman's memorial - said Pat "wasn't
> very fired up about being in Iraq" and instead
> wanted to go fight al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He
> said both Pat and Kevin (who has a degree in
> philosophy) "were amazingly well-read individuals
> Š very firm in some of their beliefs, their
> political and religious or not so religious
> Baer recalled that Tillman encouraged him in his
> ambitions as an amateur poet. "I would read him
> my poems, and we would talk about them," Baer
> said. "He helped me grow as an individual."
> Tillman subscribed to the Economist magazine,
> and a fellow soldier said Tillman created a
> makeshift base library of classic novels so his
> platoon mates would have literature to read in
> their down time. He even brought gourmet coffee
> to brew for his platoon in the field in
> Baer said Tillman was popular among his fellow
> soldiers and had no enemies. "The guys who killed
> Pat were his biggest fans," he said. "They were
> really wrecked afterward." He called Tillman
> "this amazing positive force who really brought
> our whole platoon together.
> He had this great energy. Everybody loved him."
> His former comrades and family recall Tillman as
> a born leader yet remarkably humble. White, the
> Navy SEAL, recalls one day when "some 19-year-old
> Ranger came and ordered him to cut an acre of
> And Pat just did it, he cut that grass, he
> didn't complain. He could have taken millions of
> dollars playing football, but instead he was just
> taking orders like that."
> Mary Tillman says that's how Pat would have
> wanted to be remembered, as an individual, not as
> a stock figure or political prop. But she also
> believes "Pat was a real hero, not what they used
> him as."
> For the moment, all that is left are the
> memories and the thick binders spread across Mary
> Tillman's dining room table in San Jose. As she
> waits for the Pentagon investigators to finish
> their new probe, she wonders whether they will
> ask the hard questions. Like other family
> members, "I just want accountability," she said.
> "I want answers."
> 'IT'S HARD TO KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE'
> That's the lament of Mary Tillman, above, a
> teacher of special education in a San Jose public
> school. She has long pressed the Army to reopen
> its investigation into the friendly-fire killing
> of her son, Pat Tillman, in a canyon in
> Afghanistan on April 22, . The persistence of
> Mary Tillman and her former husband, Patrick
> Tillman, was rewarded when the Pentagon's
> inspector general opened a new inquiry in August,
> the fourth such probe. Mary Tillman says she
> hopes questions created by discrepancies in past
> testimony will finally be answered.
> STORY CHANGES OVER TIME
> An officer in Pat Tillman's Ranger battalion who
> directed the first investigation into the
> soldier's death served as a witness on Nov. 14,
> 2004, in the third investigation, which was led
> by Brig. Gen. Gary Jones. The first investigator
> complained that the officers in charge of the
> second investigation had allowed Rangers involved
> in the shooting to change their testimony.
> THREAT OF PERJURY CHARGES
> An excerpt from a March 3, 2005, memorandum by
> Brig. Gen. Gary Jones describes how Capt.
> William Saunders, the commander of Pat Tillman's
> Ranger company, was threatened with perjury
> charges. Jones' memo said Saunders made false
> claims that he had informed his superiors that
> platoon commander Lt. David Uthlaut had protested
> orders given to him leading up to the incident.
> Despite this threat, Saunders was allowed to
> change his testimony and was granted immunity.
> E-mail Robert Collier at firstname.lastname@example.org.