SOCORRO, New Mexico (STPNS) -- Late NFL safety Pat Tillman’s parents recently appealed to the U.S. Senate to seriously consider not confirming Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal as Obama’s chief commander in Afghanistan. As they have done since their son’s death, they accuse him of covering up a murder. McChrystal apologized at his confirmation hearing for “misleading” the Tillmans and the nation regarding the nature of the former Arizona Cardinal’s death in Afghanistan in 2004.

Patrick Tillman’s entire chain of command repeatedly went to great lengths to disguise the fact that Pat was shot in the forehead at close range, apparently by one of his own platoon, while on routine patrol. Instead, the fallen Army Ranger was hailed a national hero who fell to “devastating enemy fire” while trying to take a hill.

Cpl. Tillman had been “fragged,” but within the week, McChrystal signed his Silver Star citation and the funeral was nationally televised. Bush and Rumsfeld basked; at last they had their recruitment poster-boy.

Truth be told

No one was ever prosecuted for the slaying, though the doctor examining the body wrote, “The medical evidence did not match up with the scenario as described,” and requested a criminal investigation.

Congress launched its own inquiry in 2007. The last soldier to see Pat alive testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he was ordered not to divulge – especially to the family – that a fellow soldier or soldiers murdered Pat Tillman.

Last July, the Oversight Committee released its report, “Misleading Information from the Battlefield: The Tillman and (Jessica) Lynch Episodes.” It states the “investigation was frustrated by a near universal lack of recall among senior White House officials … (and) the Defense Department did not meet its most basic obligations in sharing accurate information with the families and with the American public.”


Tillman had actually grown vocally disapproving of “the war on terror” after multiple tours and had arranged to meet with MIT professor and prominent critic of U.S. foreign policy Noam Chomsky upon returning home from Afghanistan. Pat’s brother testified that Tillman’s diary, which the family knew he kept in the field, was confiscated and never returned to them.

A 2007 Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press revealed that mysterious “special forces snipers” – never publicly mentioned by the Pentagon – came upon Tillman’s squad right after the shooting (London Daily Mail). Pat’s uniform and armor were quickly incinerated by his unit.

But Gen. Stanley McChrystal was confirmed anyway last month.

Facts for Thought

• Time remaining on Congressional authorization to deploy National Guard troops to Iraq: expired

• Authorization for the President to send Guard units to Afghanistan: none exists

• Portion of Iraq War vets Rand Corp. recently found to suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: 1 in 5

• Record number of suicides and “suspected suicides” among active U.S. Army soldiers in 2008: 143

• Rate by which Marines’ suicides increased in 2008 over previous year: 24 percent

• Distance from which computer operators in Nevada direct unmanned drones bombing Afghan villages: 7,500 miles

• Number of U.S. military bases remaining in foreign countries: 865

• Number on Okinawa alone: 38

• Annual cost to U.S. taxpayers to maintain bases overseas: $102 billion

• Percentage increase over 2008 in the rent we now pay Kyrgyzstan for our Air Force base there: 245

Sources: Associated Press, Tomdispatch, Alternet, Quakers, Reuters, Citizen Soldier

Kathryn Albrecht has thought for a long while that war is an extremely bad idea. She writes from idyllic San Antonio on the Rio Grande. Mrs. Albrecht’s opinions do not necessarily represent the Mountain Mail.