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October 23, 2006--

Grief Turns Into Hatred fueling Kevin Tillman's vitriolic attacks on George W. Bush and his Administration.

          Thousands of American military families have faced grief no less severe than that felt by Pat Tillman's family.  Yet for the overwhelming majority of those families, their grief did not turn into hatred of the leaders of the government in whose service their loved ones died.  Yet at the same time, it's a virtual certainty that in every war-- regardless of how noble may have been the cause-- there are always some survivors of military personnel killed in action for whom grief turns into such hatred.  Some such survivors vilified George Washington, many vilified Abraham Lincoln, some vilified Woodrow Wilson, some vilified Franklin Roosevelt, some vilified Harry Truman, many vilified Lyndon Johnson, and some vilified George H. W. Bush (before, during and after the Persian Gulf War), and some are vilifying George W. Bush over Iraq and/or Afghanistan.  

           Does such grief validate whatever claims such grief-turned-into-hatred produces?  If so, it would thereby invalidate any countervailing argument by survivors suffering grief not transformed into hatred.  Obviously, grief cannot validate either kind of claim.  Thus, one who makes claims must expect them to stand (or fall) on their own merit (or lack thereof).

           Does one's having served (nobly and courageously) in the particular warfare at issue validate whatever claims one may make in opposition to such warfare but not whatever claims another may advance in support of same?  As is the case with grief, neither type of "credential" is a suitable substitute for the requirement that an argument stand (or fall) on its own merit (or lack thereof). 

           Pat Tillman tragically died as a result of fire from fellow soldiers who surely didn't intend to harm him.  Equally tragic is the fact that in every war there are incidents in which troops unintentionally kill fellow troops-- sometimes through negligence or carelessness but more often through non-negligent mistakes in the "fog of war."  

           Pat Tillman's brother, Kevin, like his brother, courageously volunteered to serve, and served, our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He was honorably discharged from the Army in 2005.  He deserves our thanks for his service.  

           Until recently, he refrained from commenting on the war on terror generally or on Operation Enduring Freedom (hereafter, "OEF") in Afghanistan or Operation Iraqi Freedom (hereafter, "OIF") in particular.  However, in commentary dated October 19, 2006, and published by "TruthOut.Org," Kevin Tillman vilifies the leaders of the government he served and in whose service his brother tragically died.  His courage in serving our country earns him our respect and gratitude but does not validate the vitriolic claims he makes in his commentary nor does it invalidate counter-assertions by anyone who has not served in the same warfare in which he served.

           What claims does he make and what support does he advance for them?  To facilitate analysis of his claims, I've quoted them and then added bracketed bold-faced numbers/letters.  Responses to his claims are correspondingly numbered/lettered. 

Tillman's Claims:  ·

[01]  Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because [01-a] it was a direct threat to the American people, or [01-b] to the world, or [01-c] harbored terrorists, or [01-d] was involved in the September 11 attacks, or [01-e] received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or [01-f] had mobile weapons labs, or [01-g] WMD, or [01-h] had a need to be liberated, or [01-i] we needed to establish a democracy, or [01-j] stop an insurgency, or [01-k] stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that."  ·

[02]  Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up [02a] secret prisons around the world, [02-b] secretly kidnapping people, [02-c] secretly holding them indefinitely, [02-d] secretly not charging them with anything, [02-e] secretly torturing them. Somehow that [02-f] overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.  [02g--for [02-a] through [02-f] collectively]  ·

[03]  Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.  ·

[04]  Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes. ·

[05]  Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.  ·

[06]  Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.  ·

[07]:  ·

[07-a] Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

[07-b] Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

[07-c] Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

[07-d] Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

[07-e] Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

[07-f]  Somehow torture is tolerated.

[07-g] Somehow lying is tolerated. 

[07-h] Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense. 

[07-i]  Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

[07-j]  Somehow a narrative is more important than reality. 

[08]:  ·

[08-a]  Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

[08-b]  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.

[08-c]  Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

[08-d]  Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.  

[08-e]  Somehow this is tolerated.

[08-f]  Somehow nobody is accountable for this.  ·

[09]  In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.  ·

[10]  Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday. 

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman

Responses to Tillman's Claims (denoted by R- preceding the bracketed number/letter assigned above):


R-[01]  (Tillman's allegations of shifting-rationales and false premises for toppling Saddam):

R-[01-a] (Claiming Bush falsely portrayed Saddam as "threat" to America)

Bush correctly described Saddam Hussein's regime as a gathering danger, as a threat to America's national interests and as a threat to America's allies in the Middle East.  From shortly after the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Hussein's massive slaughter of Kurds in northern Iraq and Shiites in southern Iraq made it necessary for America (and allies) to enforce a no-fly zone over northern and southern Iraq in order to prevent resumption of such slaughter.  Throughout the 1990's, Hussein's forces continually fired anti-aircraft weapons and/or missiles at planes enforcing the "no-fly" zones. [back]

During the 1990's, it was not uncommon for Democrats (and Republicans) focusing on the dangers represented by Hussein to castigate George H. W. Bush for having "stopped" Schwarzkopf from "continuing to Baghdad" and "toppling Saddam" before ending the Persian Gulf War.  (I assume, but do not know, that Tillman does not contend that Bush 41 launched the Persian Gulf War on the basis of "lies.")  During the post-Gulf-War inspections in the early 1990's, inspectors discovered that Hussein's nuclear-weapons program had been far closer to success than had been believed by our best intelligence analysis before the war.   [back]

In 1998, President Clinton signed legislation (supported by most Democrats including Ted Kennedy and John Kerry) making the toppling of Saddam Hussein a matter of national policy of the American government.  Absent having been stopped, operatives of Hussein would have completed plans to attempt to assassinate  then-former-President, George H. W. Bush.  Clinton fired cruise-missiles into Iraq in response to the exposure of such plot.  In 1998, Clinton launched cruise missiles into Iraq for Saddam Hussein's having kicked-out the U.N. inspectors.  From at least 1998 forward, official American policy (legislative as well as executive) described Hussein's regime as a threat to America and its allies, to his neighbors and to the world.  Between the time of the U.N. Resolutions in the Fall of 2002 and the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Coalition forces discovered a North Korean ship bound for Iraq to deliver missiles in contravention of long-standing U.N. Resolutions adopted at the end of the Persian Gulf War.   [back] ·

R-[01-b] (Claiming Bush falsely portrayed Saddam as "threat" to the World)

See response to [01-a] above. [back]    

R-[01-c] (Claiming Bush falsely said Saddam was harboring terrorists)

Saddam Hussein not only harbored terrorists (such as Abu Nidal and those who, during the terrorist-hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro, shot wheel-chair-bound Leon Klinghoeffer for being Jewish and then threw him overboard) but also paid $25,000 to the families of suicide-bomber terrorists killing Israeli civilians.  In the region that coined the phrase, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend," one would have to have been hopelessly naive to have believed he had not "harbored" or otherwise covertly aided other terrorists (including al Qaeda) he perceived to be committed to attacking  American interests. [back]  

R-[01-d]  (Claiming Bush falsely said Saddam aided in the "September 11" attack.

Even though Václav Havel, then-President of the Czech Republic, and his top intelligence officer unequivocally reported to U.S. intelligence services that Mohammed Atta had met with an Iraqi intelligence officer before 9-11, and even though Bush admitted having received such reports from Czech intelligence, he repeatedly and explicitly declined to claim to have evidence to show Saddam's regime had collaborated with the 9-11 terrorists even though Havel and Czech intelligence adamantly and persistently asserted that such pre-9-11 meeting occurred. [back]  

R-[01-e]  (Claiming Bush falsely claimed Saddam had acquired "weapons-grade uranium")

In Bush's State of the Union address in 2002, he said that "British Intelligence" believes Hussein was seeking to obtain "yellowcake" in Africa.  British Intelligence still stands by the report.  Bush did not claim to have evidence that Hussein had "received" yellowcake.  Subsequently, Joe Wilson falsely implied (if not falsely asserted) that information he gathered "for" the Bush Administration on his trip to Niger had refuted intelligence reports that Hussein had been "seeking" yellowcake in Africa.  (The circumstantial evidence is nearly overwhelming that Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, were operating inside  Bush's Administration as political moles for his political opponents.) [back]  

R-[01-f]  (Claiming Bush falsely said Saddam had "mobile weapons labs")

There were intelligence reports that Hussein had "mobile" laboratories for creating/disbursing chemical and/or biological agents.  Thus far, no such mobile laboratory of the type described by such pre-war intelligence reports have been found.  (Historians know that faulty pre-Normandy-invasion intelligence prompted a nearly-suicidal assignment for Army Rangers to scale the cliff at Pointe du Hoc to destroy large cannon erroneously believed by intelligence to have been positioned at the top of the cliff to pose deadly threats to landings on the beach, and that the surviving Rangers who reached the top discovered that what had appeared to be the barrels of 155 mm cannon were really telephone poles protruding from the bunkers at the top of the cliff.  This was but one of countless examples of faulty intelligence that no fair-minded person would have, in hindsight, characterized as "lies.") [back] 

R-[01-g]  (Claiming Bush falsely said Saddam still possessed "WMD")

  The weight of intelligence regarding whether  Hussein had hidden, rather than having destroyed, chemical and biological weapons had persuaded virtually every western intelligence agency to conclude that he still retained dangerous quantities of hidden chemical and biological weapons.  It's undisputed that the CIA Director appointed by Clinton (and retained by Bush), George Tenet, personally told Bush that it was "slam dunk" accurate that Hussein still possessed dangerous quantities of chemical and biological weapons.  Were there "minority" or "countervailing" views on the subject within the intelligence community?  Of course.  So what?   [back]  

The only time any intelligence community can be "certain" about such matters is after the fact., in which case whatever may be the answer becomes "history" rather than a prediction based on analysis of  "intelligence."   Before India and, later, before Pakistan, successfully tested nuclear bombs, virtually all western intelligence agencies sincerely (but erroneously) believed that those respective countries' nuclear programs were "years away" from success.  On matters such as weapons of mass destruction, on which side do we want to err in resolving doubts about intelligence on such subjects? [back]

Before commencement of OIF, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld cogently told a Senate committee that on issues such as whether a particular country's WMD program were to be on the verge of success, our intelligence-based estimate of the likely date for success can be "too soon," "precisely correct," or "too late."  Correctly reminding the Senate that such estimates have never been "precisely correct," reality confronts us with the choice of being "too soon" or "too late," in reference to which he correctly said that being "too soon" is clearly better than being "too late."  This isn't rocket science. [back]  

R-[01-h]  (Claiming Bush justified war by saying Iraq had "a need to be liberated")  ·

The foundational premise that Bush advanced for the "liberation" of Iraq was not that Iraq "needed" to be liberated; rather, it was that America (and the West) "needed" for Iraq to be "liberated" from the police-state/terrorist-supporting, WMD-capable regime, the toppling of which had officially been legislative and executive policy of the United States government since 1998 (during the Clinton Administration).  A secondary premise that Bush advanced was that the Iraqi people "needed" to be liberated from the ruthless, nearly-genocidal police-state tactics of Hussein's regime. [back]  

R-[01-i]  (Claiming Bush tries to justify the war by saying "a democracy" was "needed" in Iraq)

A tertiary premise Bush advanced for OIF was that establishment of a human-rights-respecting democracy in Iraq would promote, rather than diminish, the long-term interests of liberty generally and western civilization in particular.  Skeptics at the time asserted that such form of "democracy" cannot be "imposed" by an external force.  There can be no doubt that it is a daunting task for external forces to do so; however, when Japan surrendered at the end of World War II, skeptics could have argued (and did argue) that a country whose entire cultural history was steeped in a form of militaristic feudalism could never become a human-rights-respecting democracy.  The pre-World-War-II cultural history of Japan, like the pre-OIF cultural history of Iraq, showed little respect for individual human lives.  That it may be difficult to plant a human-rights-respecting democracy in a cultural climate hostile to such form of government does not mean it's immoral, impossible or unwise for human-rights-respecting democracies to apply force to such inhumane cultures in order to do so. [back]  

R-[01-j]  (Claiming Bush tries to justify the war by asserting need for "stopping [the] insurgency")

Manifestly, Bush did not assert "stopping an insurgency" as a premise for launching OIF.  The current emphasis on "stopping" the "insurgency" does not invalidate the premises for toppling Saddam any more than efforts to "stop" Nazi insurgence during the early-post-World-War-II occupation of Germany invalidated the premises for defeating Hitler.  The tactics for "stopping an insurgency" must change as the tactics of an insurgency change, but the need to change such tactics does not invalidate the strategy of toppling Saddam. [back]  

R-[01-k]  (Claiming Bush tries to justify the war by asserting need for "stopping" a "civil war")

Manifestly, "stopping" a "civil war" was not a premise for launching OIF.  Even if one were to assume, arguendo, that "civil war" rather than an "insurgency" were to be a correct description of what's now occurring in Iraq, any current assertion of a need to to "stop" such "civil war" could not invalidate the premises for toppling Hussein.  If there were to have been outbreaks of "civil war" in the course of post-World-War-II occupation of Japan and/or Germany, no such outbreak could rationally be deemed to have retroactively invalidated the strategic decisions to topple Hitler and Japan's warlords.  The tactics for "stopping a civil war" must change as the tactics of participants in a "civil war" change, but the need to change such tactics to counter "civil war" does not invalidate the strategy of toppling Saddam.[back] 

R-[02]  (Claiming that Bush is  "subverting international law and humanity")   

R-[02-a]  (Claiming that "secret prisons" for captured terrorists subvert law and humanity)

International law obliges warring states capturing uniformed military personnel of opposing warring states to maintain such prisoners in a manner providing access to third parties, such as the Red Cross, and conforming to the requirements of the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of lawful combatants taken prisoner in the course of such warfare.  International law does not, nor should it, prohibit the capture of unlawful combatants involved in ongoing, unlawful warfare or agents of non-state organizations engaging in such unlawful warfare.  The internally-inconsistent, plurality decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (June 28, 2006) interprets the U.S. Constitution such that with respect a U.S. citizen captured on a foreign battlefield as an enemy combatant against U.S. forces, whose place of detention the Executive Branch subsequently transferred to a place within United States territorial jurisdiction, is entitled to invoke the writ of habeas corpus to challenge the constitutionality of such detention except to the extent to which Congress enacts  legislation prescribing the scope of, or procedures for, such writ or limiting or barring its applicability to such types of detention.  That plurality decision permits an inference that absent such detainee being brought into the United States' territorial jurisdiction, the writ of habeas corpus would not be available to such detainee to challenge his detention outside such territorial jurisdiction. [back]

Furthermore, to the extent to which that plurality decision purports to accord Geneva Convention requirements for treatment of prisoners of war to the outside-the-United-States-capture of unlawful combatants or agents of non-state organizations or entities waging unlawful warfare against the United States when such unlawful combatants or agents are not U.S. citizens, such purported adjudication would be dicta. (Dicta is the term for a pronouncement by a court describing its decision in a case when such pronouncement purports to decide issues beyond the scope of the legal and factual issues necessary for adjudication of the case, and such pronouncement does not constitute binding precedent.) [back]

 In the wake of  Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Congress promptly enacted, and Bush signed, legislation to remedy overbroad effects of that decision as well as perceived deficiencies in the Executive Branch's handling of the detention of Hamdi as well as the detention, interrogation and treatment of non-citizen unlawful combatants or agents of non-state organizations or entitles waging unlawful warfare. [back]  

Given the nature of terrorist cells (and spy rings), a state capturing a terrorist/spy is entitled to keep such capture secret as long as possible in order to keep the terrorist-cell/spy-ring in the dark as long as possible about such capture while the captor seeks to acquire as much intelligence as possible about the prisoner and his cell/ring.  The "shelf life" of such information is often quite fleeting, and the sooner the terrorist-cell/spy-ring learns of the capture, the sooner the cell/ring can take steps to counter the presumed compromises of secrets and/or operational plans likely to flow from such capture.   Manifestly, effective counter-terror/counter-espionage tactics require confinement and interrogation of terrorists/spies in secret for as long as possible. [back]  

R-[02-b]  (Claiming Bush violates international law & humanity by "secretly kidnapping people") 

Between intelligence agencies of allied, non-hostile states, it's common practice for intelligence agents of a state seeking the capture of a terrorist or spy in an allied, non-hostile state to secretly effectuate such capture through assistance of the intelligence agents in the allied, non-hostile state exercising the same type of authority described in [02-a] above.  Manifestly, issuance of "public" warrants for capturing such terrorist/spy would be self-defeating; nor would doing so be required by "international law." [back]  

R-[02-c]  (Claiming Bush violates law & humanity by "secretly holding people indefinitely")

In classic, Geneva-Convention warfare between states, a warring state is entitled to hold captured uniformed soldiers of an enemy state as prisoners for the duration of the war-- an intrinsically "indefinite" period.  A state is entitled to "secretly" hold a captured terrorist/spy as long as may be necessary to prevent harm to the national security of the state posed by the terrorist organization or spy ring.  (See also "R-[02-c]" above regarding habeas-corpus issues.) [back]  

R-[02-d]  (Claiming Bush violates law & humanity by "secretly not charging [detainees] with anything")

See [02-b] and [02c] above.  Habeas corpus cannot sensibly be deemed applicable to the capture of non-citizen terrorists and spies.  Notwithstanding the ACLU and other opponents of the recently enacted law for detention, interrogation and military-tribunal trial of unlawful combatants, and notwithstanding the single-federal-judge decision a few months ago declaring terrorist-surveillance legislation "unconstitutional," the legal/constitutional arguments favoring such legislation authorizing such practices are rational, if not compelling, rather than evil as implied by Tillman's characterization of such practices. [back]  

R-[02-e]  (Claiming Bush violates law & humanity by "secretly torturing [detainees]")

"Torture" is the epithet incorrectly applied by Bush's opponents to describe non-injurious, coercive interrogation techniques (hereafter, "NICIT") implicitly authorized by the legislation described in R-[02-c] above for interrogation of unlawful combatants or agents of non-state organizations or entitles engaging in unlawful warfare against the United States.  Such techniques are humane in contrast to the brutally inhumane treatment terror-sponsoring states (such as Saddam's regime) routinely applied to American/Western military personnel captured by them.  To equate NICIT with "torture" is to trivialize the meaning of the term "torture" and make a mockery of the very concept of moral distinctions that civilized law evolved to support-- especially when the world public at large interprets the word "torture" to mean the kinds of things that terrorists routinely inflict on their captives such as beheading, gutting, physically-injurious treatments, etc.  It's like equating verbal abuse with assault and battery. [back]

Opponents of NICIT also contend that such techniques "don't work."  If that were to be correct, then our agents shouldn't use such techniques and should instead use other lawful techniques that do "work."  However, because fear can also be a powerful motivator, it's not in our interests to give assurances in advance to our terrorist adversaries that if they were to be captured by us, the worst they would have to fear would be demands for them to tell us their "name, rank and [jihad] number."  (This phrase is O'Reilly's adaptation of "name, rank and serial number.") [back]

Nevertheless, modern technology (easily hidden nuclear bombs, for example) may create a moral justification for crossing the NICIT line.  If one of our cities were to be destroyed with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of our citizens being vaporized by a nuclear bomb hidden by a terrorist cell, and if thereafter it were to be learned that one of the members of such cell with fore-knowledge of the plot were to have been in our custody before detonation of such device and kept such information secret while undergoing non-coercive interrogation deemed acceptable to opponents of NICIT, none but the lunatic fringe would then think it was morally justifiable to have refrained from using NICIT to gain such information.  Indeed, noted civil-libertarian, Alan Dershowitz, correctly argues that use of NICIT should be warranted with respect to a detainee reasonably believed to have information necessary to prevent loss of life.  See Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge, by Alan Dershowitz. [back]  

R-[02-f]  (Claiming Bush/Rumsfeld adopted an "overt policy of torture")

Tillman seems to think that in the military "bad apples" can only exist at the top-- i.e., that none in the lower ranks would violate military law without having received "tacit" approval from superiors.  The military justice system is full of cases of military personnel being convicted for committing criminal acts in violation of the Code of Military Justice.  Just as there are people in civilian society willing to commit criminal acts for potentially infinite numbers of self-serving motives, there are such people in the military as well.  (Fortunately for us, it's a small percentage.) [back]

That's not to say that there could be no "bad apples" at the top.  However, we have a system of military justice.  Like the civilian system of justice, it's imperfect.  However, most military-law experts know that our system of military justice is -- as is our civilian system of justice-- unsurpassed in fairness by any other system in the world.  Thus far, our military justice system has identified and punished (or disciplined) a number of people for wrongdoing or irresponsible conduct at Abu Ghraib.  To allege (without credible evidence) that such wrongdoing merely constituted "[following orders in the form of] overt policy [from the top for use] of torture" is irresponsible. [back]    

R-[02-g]  Tillman's allegations [02-a] through [02-e] collectively.

Tillman's allegations [02-a] through [02-e] collectively manifest the folly of equating anti-terrorism warfare with ordinary law-enforcement.  There's a long-understood adage explaining our constitutional loyalty to the notion of keeping due-process shackles on governmental power, which I paraphrase:  "It's better for 10 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to go to prison."  We can afford the luxury of that maxim in the context of ordinary crime and ordinary law enforcement.  We can't afford those odds when dealing with the kinds of people and organizations who believe they have a religious duty to detonate a nuclear bomb in an American city and would have already done so if they were to have already acquired the means to do so.  Just as the price each citizen must pay for a due-process-disciplined system of law enforcement means that he may be the one innocent man out of eleven that goes to jail while ten guilty ones escape justice, the potential spread of nuclear technology to anti-freedom religious fanatics obliges liberty-loving citizens to accept the fact that in order for human-rights-respecting democracies to effectively wage counter-terrorism warfare (in contrast to ordinary law enforcement) they must accept a higher risk of being wrongly "detained" or "convicted" in order to create a lower risk of fanatical terrorists "nuking" a city. [back]  

R-[03]  (Impugning displays of support for our troops as unpatriotic, faux patriotism.)   

It's difficult to discern anything other than grief-turned-into-hatred as the motivation for such gratuitous mocking of the motives behind acts of ordinary people intending to show support for our troops and their mission.  I have no doubt that Tillman may not be alone in feeling offended by what he implies to be unpatriotic, faux patriotism, but I likewise have no doubt that the vast majority of military personnel understand and appreciate such actions as being intended to convey to the troops that they are respected and appreciated and that they will not be forgotten, demeaned, insulted or ignored by citizens displaying such support.  A substantial percentage of the same people whose motives he thus maligns are also making significant contributions in other ways.  Should there be a larger percentage making even greater contributions?  Of course.  All of the military people I know actually appreciate the displays of support for them as well as the more substantive contributions. [back]  

R-[04]  (Claiming Bush invokes deaths of troops to "legitimate the illegal invasion") .

Characterizing OIF as an "illegal invasion," Tillman's statement implies that Bush attempts to make the deaths of soldiers a retroactive justification for an "illegal" war.  History refutes the assertion that it was an "illegal invasion":    First, for more than a decade before commencement of OIF, Hussein had continually violated the terms of the truce in 1991 under which the United States and Coalition forces agreed to cease combat operations against Iraq on the condition of Iraq's compliance with the terms of the cease-fire and applicable U.N. resolutions; Second, on multiple occasions in the 1990's, the United States launched military attacks on Iraq in retaliation for some of those continual violations; Third, the U.N. Resolution adopted in late 2002 authorized the use of force against Iraq to enforce Hussein's non-compliance with, or violations of, the more-than-a-dozen U.N. Resolutions and cease-fire terms; Fourth, that late-2002 resolution did not require a further resolution in order for the use of force to be lawful; Fifth, in early 2003, even though the United States and Britain subsequently sought, but failed to procure, another U.N. resolution to redundantly re-authorize force, the U.N. Security Council did not adopt (and, indeed, could not have adopted) a resolution prohibiting the use of force under the preceding resolution.  Notwithstanding Kofi Annan's (and Tillman's) characterization of OIF to the contrary, it was neither an "illegal" invasion nor a "violation of international law." [back]

Regarding the characterization of Bush's occasional statements to the effect that withdrawing from Iraq and leaving it as an operational/training theatre for terrorists would denigrate sacrifices already made, such assertion is no different than it would have been for Roosevelt to have made a similar comment to anyone urging a "negotiated cease-fire" in the wake of the Battle of the Bulge. [back]  

R-[05]  (Accusing Bush of "lying" and "illegally invading a nation")

Repetition of unsupported allegations does not substantiate them.  Regarding the allegation of "lying," see R-[01-g] above.  Regarding the "illegal invasion" allegation, see R-[04] above. [back]  

R-[06]  (Describing Bush as "afraid" to serve in Vietnam but being "allowed" to send troops on a mission for "illegally invading a nation")

Bush didn't fight in Vietnam.  He flew a fighter-plane in the Air National Guard, which John McCain described as a fighter plane known by those who flew it as being one of the most dangerous, least forgiving combat aircraft ever in our fighter-plane inventory.  If my memory is correct (and I think it is) the death rate for pilots flying that plane on non-combat air-national-guard missions was actually higher than the overall death rate among military personnel deployed to Vietnam.  Bush also volunteered to serve in a unit to fly those planes in Vietnam, but he was not selected for such service.  (Bush-haters deny such fact but also claim that even if he did volunteer, his not being selected was a "favor" to his father.)   Apparently, Bush-haters believe that Al Gore's service as a military journalist in Vietnam required more courage than for Bush to serve as a pilot in an unusually-dangerous fighter plane. [back]

Rumsfeld didn't fight in Vietnam.  Before Vietnam, Rumsfeld was a carrier pilot, which virtually every carrier pilot would adamantly describe as not being an assignment for cowards.  I don't know whether the peace-time death rate among carrier pilots was higher than that for military personnel serving in Vietnam, but it's virtually universally understood that it's quite a dangerous assignment even in peacetime. [back]

Implying that Bush and Rumsfeld are cowards who somehow relish sending soldiers to their deaths may make Tillman feel better, but it has nothing to do with the merits of the issues in support of which he hurls such insults.  That the making of such assertions by a grief-stricken person may be understandable doesn't render them worthy of serious consideration. [back]

Finally, does Tillman seriously intend to imply that any President lacking prior military service would be disqualified from sending troops to war?  What would happen to the constitutional concept of civilian control of the military and military subservience to civilian authority?  Should American troops have refused to deploy to Kosovo because:   (a) Clinton had avoided military service in what Tillman describes as the "decades ago ... illegal invasion [in Vietnam]" and had also expressed "loathing" for the military in doing so and (b) the United Nations had refused to approve or authorize such deployment in Kosovo? [back]


R-[07-a]  Claiming Bush fakes "character, virtue and strength."  

This diatribe is an epithet unworthy of a response.  [back]   

R-[07-b]  (Claiming Bush is "profiting" from "tragedy and horror")

This diatribe parrots the libel first uttered by Ted Kennedy in 2003-- i.e., that while in Crawford, Texax, Bush "hatched" the plan to invade Iraq in order to help "his friends" make "profits" from war.  It was unworthy of a Senator and it's unworthy of even an aggrieved relative of a soldier who died tragically while serving his country.  [back]   

R-[07-c]   (Claiming Bush tolerates "the deaths of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people")

This diatribe is an assertion that's meaningless with respect to lawful warfare-- Regarding lawful/unlawful warfare, see R-[04], R-[05] and R-[06] above.  [back]   

R-[07-d]   (Claiming Bush subverts "The Bill of Rights and the Constitution") 

Regarding this redundant allegation, see R-[02-c] above.  [back]   

R-[07-e]  (Regarding Bush's opposition to habeas-corpus rights for enemy-combatant detainees)  

This diatribe falsely alleges suspension of habeas corpus generally, but to the extent that Tillman intended it to apply to detention of captured terrorist suspects, see R-[02-c], above.  [back]  

R-[07-f]   (Repeated allegation that "torture is tolerated")

This simply repeats the allegation that "torture is tolerated," see R-[02-d] through R-[02-f], above.  [back]   

R-[07-g]   (Repeated allegation that "lying is tolerated")

See Responses R-[01-a] through R-[01-k] generally and R-[01-g] in particular, above.  [back]   

R-[07-h]  (Claims that "reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense") 

This diatribe is in the nature of an epithet unworthy of a response.  [back]   

R-[07-i]   (Claims Bush has "managed to create a more dangerous world")    

This diatribe alleges Bush has created a "more dangerous world."  To understand the fallacy of this reasoning, consider the alternative of our now being faced with (a) Saddam Hussein still in power, free of sanctions, and maximizing use of his oil revenue in reconstituting and completing his nuclear-weapons program before accomplishment of such goal by the Iranians, (b) Libya having continued, rather than having abandoned, its quite extensive progress toward developing nuclear weapons, (c) Iran feeling an even greater urgency to develop nuclear weapons to counter Saddam Hussein's program, and (d) Kim Il Jung still doing what he began in the 1990's when he violated the spirit, if not the inadequately-written "letter," of his "agreement" with the United States in 1994.  See also "Rewind, Rewrite and Replay."  [back]   

R-[07-j]  (Claims Bush views "narrative" as "more important than reality") 

This statement is a variation of "perception is more important than reality," which, unfortunately, is sometimes true-- especially with respect to the effects of terrorist acts and terrorists' propaganda.  Likewise, caustic, reckless and irresponsible allegations against Bush have the same effect of creating a "perception" of us that casts doubt on our national will in the minds of our adversaries as well as the minds of Muslims still sitting on the fence.  The cliché he invokes is an argument against, rather than for, the kinds of irresponsible allegations made by the side Tillman now appears to have joined:  Howard Dean lending credibility to post-9-11 "rumors" circulating that Bush and the Mossad rather than the suicidal/homicidal Islamic fanatics caused 9-11; Ted Kennedy's claim that Bush started the war "for profit"; Ted Kennedy characterizing our flawed operation of Abu Ghraib as "the same torture under new management"; Dick Durbin equating the actions of our troops at Gitmo with those of "Nazis"; John Kerry claiming Bush's strategy forces our troops to "terrorize women and children"; the Leftist chorus claiming Bush "lied" in claiming our best intelligence led him to conclude that Hussein still possessed chemical and biological weapons and still desired to reconstitute his nuclear program as soon as he could get sanctions lifted (or rendered even less effective); Cindy Sheehan claiming Bush is "the world's greatest terrorist";  ad nauseum.  [back]   

R-[08]  Tillman's Diatribes

R-[08-a]  (Claiming America "projects everything ... it is not and condemns everything ... it is")

This sweeping diatribe is unworthy of a response.  [back]   

R-[08-b]  (Claiming the US "has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared and distrusted countries")

This sweeping diatribe is unworthy of a response.  The implication is that before Bush the U.S. was "rational, non-belligerent, not feared and not distrusted."  However, regarding America being "distrusted," perhaps Tillman is too young to remember the unrelenting vitriol directed toward the U.S. throughout Europe and the rest of the world when Reagan was in the process of driving the hard-bargains with Gorbachev over nuclear-weapons issues, which hard-bargains virtually everyone now concedes led to the dramatic reduction of nuclear weapons on both sides.  Usama bin Laden and other al Qaeda spokesmen have repeatedly characterized their un-fearing view of the United States as a paper tiger was something on which they depended as they steadily escalated their asymmetrical warfare against the U.S. since the 1990's.  [back]  

R-[08-c]  (Claiming there's too much apathy and ignorance among Americans about political issues) 

I agree.  [back

R-[08-d--f]  (Claiming "incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country and that "this is tolerated" and "nobody is accountable")

These sweeping diatribes are unworthy of a response.  [back]  

R-[09]  (Characterizing "much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity)

This sweeping diatribe is unworthy of a response.  [back]  

R-[10]  In closing, Tillman says, "Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday [--i.e., election day, Nov. 7, 2006]."   

I agree except, of course, the "action" for which I'm hoping on Nov. 7, 2006, is the opposite of that for which Tillman is hoping.  I thank Tillman for his having served in the military, but I don't thank him for the hatred his understandable grief has become.   [back] [back to top]

--Jim Wrenn is Editor at WrennCom.Com and Editor at PoliSat.Com.  


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