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Pat Tillman: Killed by Friendly Fire or Executed by His Own Government?

Charles E. Carlson Apr 4, 2007

The Bush Administration knew at the top that celebrity soldier Pat Tillman had been killed by persons in, or attached to his own unit, yet it purposely chose to muffle the incident for more than two years; lying to the family while lionizing the victim as a war hero.   Circumstantial evidence, primarily illogical actions at very high levels of the administration, suggests more than a cover up of a “friendly fire” accident (a common mistake during war.)

 

Had Tillman been accidentally shot by one of his own unit the whole matter could have been put to rest by holding a few harsh court marshals of those immediately involved, and issuing profuse apologies to everyone.   But, America’s most famous volunteer soldier was, according to his brother and constant companion, on the verge of whistle-blowing the bankruptcy of US policy in Iraq.  The untimely death of Tillman could not have been timelier for the top civilians in charge of making war, but covering for an assassination is not so simple.

 

The Tillman brothers were both professional athletes who enlisted in the US Army together in May 2002, 8 months after day 9/11, but before the bombing of Iraq.  They were first shipped to Iraq where they lived together in the same unit; then they were transferred to Afghanistan where Pat Tillman was killed about two years after his enlistment by parties unknown. The Army now admits Tillman was killed by his own unit, but there appears to be much more to the story.  Tillman’s own brother Kevin, who was with him every day, says Pat despised and rejected the war in Iraq as unnecessary and brutal.  Kevin wrote a public letter on 20 October 2006:

 

"Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world." (1)

 

The Not So New Military Art of Selective Execution…of its Own

Pat Tillman's family has firmly rejected the Defense Department's findings on the former NFL star's friendly-fire death in Afghanistan; calling for congressional investigations into what they see as broad malfeasance and a cover-up.  They are told in the reports that nine Army officers, including four generals, “made errors” in not reporting the friendly fire death to their superiors and to the Tillman family.  The Defense Department has stated one or more of those officers who provided misleading information as the military investigated could be charged with a crime.  However, there is a gaping hole in this story.  It has now been disclosed that the “friendly fire” story of his death had to be known at the top of the chain of command, probably by Bush and acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee. (2)

 

Pat Tillman's father, a lawyer, while avoiding the legal term “murder” is having none of this explanation. (3)

 

Logic dictates that we raise the possibility of Tillman’s assassination by his own government.  Top civilian leadership had the reason and the opportunity to assassinate Tillman, and now they are acting quite guilty.

 

The Tillman story has a great chance of breaking out: survivor Kevin Tillman was with his brother constantly at war. Pat and Kevin were shipped from Iraq to Afghanistan because Pat made no secret of his opinion that war in Iraq was “illegal and unjust,” and he was, according to his brother, prepared to tell his story publicly at the first opportunity.   The Tillman brothers were due for a furlough, and Kevin stated in interviews that Pat had arranged to meet with an anti-war journalist while at home.  We wonder if others might have known this. 

 

We do not know if Pat ever admitted he had been fooled into enlisting, but he privately denounced the destruction of war in Iraq as immoral and brutal.   As Pat’s outrage grew, he was probably reassigned before he could refuse to serve in Iraq.  It does not appear he renounced his original ideas about fighting the war on terrorism, presumably against the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

 

Justifiable Homicide

When O. J. Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of his wife and her friend Ron Goldman, some Americans believed the Court.  OJ is a football hero with a fan club, and others simply believe that courts render correct decisions.  Fewer now believe OJ’s innocence, especially after he tried to market a book on how he would have killed his wife if he had wanted to.  But he stands innocent under the law.

 

The same types of questions were asked of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (JFK) in 1962 only to be shouted down by the Warren Commission.  It now seems all too obvious that Lee Harvey Oswald did not, and could never have carried out such plot alone, if indeed he even knew about the plan. Had Kennedy been touring Afghanistan when he was murdered it would no doubt have been called a “friendly fire” accident.

 

And there are older plots, Pearl Harbor being one, where the original story taken at face value is now rejected by many scholars. The complicity of the US government in 1941 is now an accepted historical conclusion that seriously challenges the “official story.”  For many years any critic who saw the obvious inconsistencies was muzzled by labels of “conspiracy nut” and even “traitor.”

 

And how could two airplanes bring down no less than three buildings in Manhattan?  A few challenged the accepted official story, and more are now asking.  Pat and Kevin Tillman were caught up in the emotion of the moment and believed, not thinking past what seemed so obvious.  But when the US bombed Iraq, Tillman knew something was very wrong, as his brother tells us.  Perhaps Pat knew he had made an error in judgment that he would need to correct.  His story seems to tell us this, and his superiors had to know about his change of heart, for they shipped the brothers from Iraq to Afghanistan without leave to go home.

 

It seems overwhelmingly likely that Tillman was not a victim of fratricide or “friendly fire” as it is euphemistically called, but was deliberately assassinated.  Much of the daily killing is performed by “contractors” in Iraq. Tillman may not have been shot by anyone in the military.  The Tillman “probable assassination” (our word) would have been temptingly easy, for instance for the CIA, which runs and hides secret prisons and torture camps, and creates false identities at will.  It could have been carried out with the knowledge of a mere handful of persons above Army level, including as few as one assassin.  It has been asserted that even now some of Tillman’s unit cannot be located for questioning.  This would seem nearly  impossible in an Army that maintains detailed personnel records, but likely if the CIA was involved.  And we are told Pat’s personal diary was burned with his body armor- if this is true, we can only wonder what was in this diary.

 

This author’s purpose is limited to suggesting that someone above the military had a very good motive and opportunity to kill Tillman.  Now the Army has a very guilty look as those above the army finger officers far up the chain of command.  People who were carrying out orders are now implicated in the “friendly fire accident;” their faces shine in the light of a whitewashing investigation.  The four generals and dozens of lesser officers and enlisted men are probably scapegoats; pleading incompetence and error at lower levels to take the wrap for the planners and executioners.  The few in prison for torturing humans at Abu Ghraib had to take the blame for those who issued the orders.

 

The Motive for Assassination:

Pat Tillman was perhaps the most dangerous man to the war propaganda effort on April 22, 2004 when he died.  Unlike his brother Kevin, his father Patrick Sr., or any other member of the armed forces, Pat could arrange publicity for what he had to say any time he warned to.  Reportedly he told Kevin they would have to wait until they mustered out to talk.  Few can raise a crowd faster than an articulate NFL star.  Tillman is one of the few who could sing with certain credibility this marching cadence:

 

I once was blind, but now I see.

I enlisted to fight

But soon I’ll be free.

Been there, I’ll talk;

You can believe in me.”  

 

Circumstantial Evidence of an Assassination

Most of us have glimpsed the several coroner shows now so popular on TV, where every shred of evidence is saved and protected to expose the crime; no eyelash is ever lost or discarded.  But Tillman’s clothing and body armor, as well as his personal diary were all burned.  Those who destroyed it have yet to name those who told them to do so, and they may never tell.  Everything about the killing suggests it was intended, including the fact that Tillman was shot twice in the head in broad daylight.  Anyone good enough and close enough for a headshot can identity who is being shot.  Maybe this is why his body armor was destroyed; perhaps it proved the assassins shot at his head, and did not pelt him with dozens of randomly placed rounds.  “Friendly fire” is thought of as randomly sprayed artillery or gunfire that hits unintended individuals. It is truly not meant to be fratricide.  Not so with assassination; there is nothing friendly about it.

 

The Motive to Kill

The army had another reason to fear Tillman- his incredible determination to do what he believed was right.  This focus caused him to misguidedly enlist; believing the World Trade Center bombing was as advertised.  We do not know what he believed when someone posing as an American in his own unit shot him in the face!  The military had a valid motive for killing its poster boy…to keep him from talking very loudly about Iraq.  Kevin Tillman has said in interviews that Pat had interviews arranged when he got stateside.  He never made it home alive!

 

The Opportunity Was Present

Anyone who has ever witnessed the confusion of military field exercises can imagine how easy it would be to assassinate one individual during actual combat.   Men are moved in and out of units under “orders” which mysteriously appear from above or are carried in the hands of a new recruit.  A team of assassins could be ordered into a unit one week and ordered out the next week, with no one knowing their real names.  They become who their orders say they are.  Furthermore, those in a unit have no contact with the press or anyone else, nor do they dare talk if they did know someone to tell; they are under the total control of the unit.  Pat Tillman could have been ordered into a unit at the same time as a hit team was ordered in to assassinate him.  No one would be the wiser except the one who “cut the orders.”  No one could say for sure if the assassin aimed at Tillman’s face or not.

Patrick Tillman Sr. said: “The army killed its poster boy.”

Responsibility for killing Tillman might reach very high indeed in this administration.  Kevin Tillman will be safer if he puts every thought on paper and places them in public hands.  We Hold These Truths leaves this endeavor to the Tillman family and many of their friends, with our blessings.  We consider it more our forte to focus on the whitewashing of war by the Christian Right, of which Pat Tillman was, according to his friend Jeremy Staat, not part.  Oddly, he did display moral courage and the desire to right his own wrongs.   Bible teachers refer to such actions as virtue and repentance; qualities much talked about in Christian circles yet seldom practiced in time of conflict.   Let us not allow Pat Tillman’s concern for his fellow man to be in vain.

 

End notes:

 

1“A Letter from Kevin Tillman, Pat Tillman's Brother and Friend”

 

2) General tried to warn Bush to come clean about Tillman” 

 

3) “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 

 

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/09/25/MNGD7ETMNM1.DTL 

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