USA: Pat Tillman’s family against Pentagon whitewash of ‘friendly fire’ death in Afghanistan


By Tom Carter:

Pat Tillman’s family speaks out against latest whitewash of “friendly fire” killing in Afghanistan

“Human beings continue to be sacrificed on the altar of a dual military occupation”

29 March 2007

The family of Patrick Tillman, a victim of “friendly fire” in the war in Afghanistan, spoke out strongly against the US military’s latest efforts to gloss over as “missteps” what they described as “criminal negligence, professional misconduct, battlefield incompetence, concealment and destruction of evidence, deliberate deception, and conspiracy to deceive” in his death.

In a statement to the press on March 26, the family of the slain football star and US Army Ranger condemned the findings released on Monday of an 18-month probe conducted by the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General into Pat Tillman’s April 2004 death.

Characterizing the findings of the military’s fifth investigation into the matter, the family said, “The truth is not what we received today. Once again, we are being used as props in a Pentagon public relations exercise.”

“We remain convinced,” they continued, “that the priority of the Pentagon was to prevent the public knowing that Pat was killed by the military’s highest priority shock infantry unit, and that he was killed by a combination of shoddy leadership and clear violations of the Rules of Engagement, as well as violations of the Law of Land Warfare.”

The family appealed to Congress to investigate Tillman’s case, as well as the cases of other soldiers killed by fratricide in Iraq [see also here] and Afghanistan.

“These cases will further establish a pattern—now well-known by the American public—of spin and deception by the Pentagon and the administration it serves,” Tillman’s family argued.

See also here.

Update here.

And here.

US soldiers against Iraq war: here.

Free speech in Afghanistan? here.

5 thoughts on “USA: Pat Tillman’s family against Pentagon whitewash of ‘friendly fire’ death in Afghanistan

  1. http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/040507L.shtml

    Soldier in New Friendly Fire Case Did Not Get Full Training
    By Greg Mitchell
    Editor and Publisher
    Wednesday 04 April 2007
    Washington – Two soldiers killed in Iraq in February may have died as a result of friendly fire, Army officials said Wednesday, not from enemy fire, as the press reported.
    The military suspected friendly fire later in February but did not inform the dead soldiers’ families of these new doubts.
    One of the soldier’s died just hours after arriving in Iraq — and was one of those troops rushed to the country in the “surge” who did not receive full training.
    The Army said it is investigating the deaths of Pvt. Matthew Zeimer, 18, of Glendive, Mont., and Spc. Alan E. McPeek, 20, of Tucson, Ariz., who were killed in Ramadi, in western Iraq on Feb. 2. The families of the soldiers at first were told they were killed by enemy fire.
    According to Col. Daniel Baggio, unit commanders in Iraq did not initially suspect they were killed by U.S. forces, but an investigation by the unit found they may have been.
    A supplemental report filed Feb. 28 suggested that the initial report might be wrong and an investigation was under way. It took another month before the families of the two soldiers were told, on March 31, that friendly fire was suspected.
    On February 9, the Savannah Morning News reported: “At least 143 soldiers joined Fort Stewart’s 1st Brigade too late to participate in a final combat exercise before their units deployed to Iraq. Last week, one of those soldiers – Pvt. Matthew T. Zeimer, 18 – was the first from the brigade to be killed when he was hit by enemy fire in Ramadi, the stronghold of Iraq’s Sunni insurgency.
    “Zeimer arrived at Fort Stewart on Dec. 18 after basic training and deployed to Iraq just a few weeks later. He missed the brigade’s intensive four-week mission rehearsal in October when more than 1,300 trainers and Iraqi role-players came to the post as part of the most realistic training program the Army offers for Iraq operations. The fact some of the brigade’s 4,000 soldiers missed that training raises questions about how well the Army is preparing troops for war in the face of accelerated and repeat deployments.”
    Two days before that, the same newspaper reported that “some Iraq veterans in the 1st Brigade have expressed concerns about their younger counterparts missing the mission rehearsal. ‘The training was good but some guys came in after that. They’re basically going straight from basic training into Iraq,’ said Staff Sgt. Jason Massey last month, before saying goodbye to his family for a third combat tour.”
    The official Defense Department site that announces fatalities tonight carries the original report on the pair’s death along with today’s update. The initial report read: “They died Feb. 2 in Ramadi, Iraq, of injuries sustained when they came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire.” The update: “On April 4, 2007 the Army announced an ongoing unit-level investigation into the circumstances of the soldiers’ deaths and that friendly fire is suspected.”
    An article for the San Francisco Chronicle on March 25 observed that McPeek died “when an insurgent’s shell killed him on the last day of his 14-month deployment.” It said he was killed “the day before he was due to finally leave for home,” and on its Web site it posted a haunting photo he had taken of himself just before he died.
    That article explored a high school in Tucson, Ariz. attended by at least five dead troops in Iraq — including McPeek. That puts the school at the top of this grim list. McPeek had enlisted at age 17: “He was pissed about 9/11,” his father explained. “He said he wanted to make a difference. There was no talking Alan out of it.”
    A March 17 article in the Navy Times described the fatal incident this way:
    “McPeek had been finishing his last mission when the building he and other troops were using as an outpost came under attack. When the shooting started, McPeek and one of the new soldiers – Pvt. Matthew Zeimer, 18, of Glendive, Mont. – took up positions behind a 3-foot wall on the roof. Other soldiers later told how they could hear McPeek calmly instruct the younger GI to stay low and return fire.
    “Then, an explosive slammed into the wall, killing both of them.”
    An Associated Press report includes the following.
    *
    “What this suggests is there was the confusion that you frequently find on the battlefield,” said Army spokesman Paul Boyce. “As soon as there is information that contradicts the initial report about the circumstances of a soldier’s death, we notify the family about that suspicion.”
    The Army came under heavy criticism over its handling of Tillman’s death. Though dozens of soldiers knew quickly that he had been killed by his fellow troops, the Army said initially that he was killed by enemy gunfire when he led his team to help another group of ambushed soldiers. It was five weeks before his family was told the truth, a delay the Army has blamed on procedural mistakes.
    Army officials are reviewing whether any action should be taken against the officers who provided misleading information as the military investigated Tillman’s killing.
    As a result of those problems, the Army instituted a number of changes in its notification process and ordered that unit commanders now must investigate every hostile death, in part to ensure that families receive accurate information about how their loved one died.
    ————

    Greg Mitchell is editor.

  2. Pingback: Bush extends tours for US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan wars | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Dead British officer’s mother on the Afghan war | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s