Almost two years ago, I wrote one of the angriest pieces I have written on
this blog, about the military's exploitation of Pat Tillman's
death in Afghanistan. With today's news that the President of the
United States will not turn over White House documents about
Tillman because of "executive branch confidentiality interests," my
anger has returned. The sickening spectacle of the people who have
led to the deaths of thousands of American soldiers claiming that
only they truly support their efforts becomes more cynical every
The President's failure to immediately turn over these documents
is an insult to every person who has put his/her life at risk and
every family member who has lost a loved one. Why should Pat
Tillman's mother still not know the truth? Why should Congress be
forced to investigate for her to find some answers?
The media's handling of this story is also disappointing.
What's incredibly interesting is that the ESPN (owned by ABC)
version of the AP report includes this detail, left out of the ABC
News version left out:
Invitation letters were sent by the committee Friday
afternoon to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and
several key Army leaders, all now retired, who were in positions of
authority during the Tillman incident, including: Gen. John P.
Abizaid, Gen. Richard Myers, Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Lt.
Gen. Philip Kensinger.
Kensinger cited his Fifth Amendment
rights in refusing to appear at the hearing in April.
A United States Army general refusing to testify about the Tillman
incident, for fear of incriminating himself. That's what this
President has done to our military.
President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld wanted to make Pat Tillman into
a hero to build support for the war. Because their only experience
with the battlefield has been in movies, they wanted a caricature,
a film depiction, an illusion. They didn't want the reality of war
depicted, nor did they recognize the most important part of the
story: Pat Tillman was already a hero, and their efforts to exploit
his death cheapened his sacrifice and his courage.
This President and his Republican cronies in the Congress can say a
million more times that they support the troops, but repeating
something doesn't make it so. From exploiting the deaths of our
soldiers to cutting funds for veteran care, from outsourcing the
war to refusing to give the soldiers adequate rest, they have made
their priorities clear. Our military personnel are nothing more
than a resource for them to exploit and cast aside. In the end,
when the long list of crimes against our nation and its ideals are
tallied, this betrayal may well be the worst.