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April 25, 2007--
Questions for Kevin Tillman and Pat Tillman's Parents Regarding "Cover-up" Allegations.
gist of what the Associated Press reported yesterday about what appears to have been the seminal
event in a sequence of events which Kevin Tillman and Pat Tillman's parents apparently sincerely believe to have been an
attempted "cover-up" of the fact that fire from fellow troops, rather than enemy troops,
killed Pat Tillman:
An Army Ranger who was with Pat Tillman when he died by friendly fire said Tuesday he was told by a higher-up to conceal that information from Tillman's family.
"I was ordered not to tell them," U.S. Army Specialist Bryan O'Neal told the House Committe on Oversight and Government Reform.
He said he was given the order by then-Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey, the battalion commander who oversaw Tillman's platoon.
Pat Tillman's brother Kevin was in a convoy behind his brother when the incident happened, but didn't see it. O'Neal said Baily told him specifically not to tell Kevin Tillman that the death was friendly fire rather than heroic engagement with the enemy.
"He basically said, 'Do not let Kevin know, he's probably in a bad place knowing that his brother's dead...."
Headline: "Ranger Alleges Cover-Up in Tillman Case." Dateline: April 24, 2007, 2:52 pm ET
by "Scott Lindlaw and Erica Werner" (AP)
The quoted text does not
explicitly identify the precise time at which O'Neial says Baily "ordered" him "not
to tell [Kevin Tillman]" that "friendly fire" rather than "enemy" fire
killed Pat Tillman. However, it seems self-evident that it must have been very soon after the
incident; otherwise such "order" would have only served to "close the barn door after
the horse would have been out."
such to have been the case, a fair, question arises in response to the accusations made yesterday in
the same hearing by Kevin Tillman and Pat Tillman's parents. The gist of the accusations were
that either: (a) the field-officer (Bailey) who issued the order at such time had first made
himself conversant with all unfavorable "political" developments that had recently
transpired and thereupon took it upon himself to suppress the truth not only to minimize further
political damage but also to create false propaganda or (b) "higher ups" ordered the
field-officer to so so. A question apparently not accorded legitimacy by the Tillmans focuses
upon a third possibility: (c) that Bailey's order manifested a seriously misguided
but humane error in judgment by a field officer motivated by a desire to minimize the pain, anguish
and suffering of Tillman's family as well to minimize the chances of calumny being heaped upon the troops who by
then would have deduced that they, rather than the enemy, had killed their fellow soldier, and that
this seminal error in judgment created an almost inexorable inertia against correction of the record
as the initial news reports flowing from this error in judgment began to magnify the consequences of
such correction to such a degree that any sensible person without first-hand knowledge of the facts
would be reluctant to describe the initial report as incorrect without first being absolutely
certain such was the case.
razor teaches those who favor reason and logic that in evaluating a highly complex, convoluted
explanation for an event in comparison to a relatively simple, rational explanation, the simpler,
rational, explanation is most likely correct.
legitimate reasons for Tillman's entire family to be quite upset at the delay in receiving the truth
as well as the apparent reluctance of some to rectify the initial action? Of course. Are
there legitimate reasons for them to attribute those grievous errors in judgment to maliciousness or
criminality? I think that to fair-minded people, the answer is "No." Are there
legitimate grounds for them to allege things such as Donald Rumsfeld "must have" ordered
such "cover-up"? No. I think such accusations are irresponsible.
I were blinded by grief I would make irresponsible allegations. All I can say is that I
certainly hope not. I can't help thinking that Pat Tillman would be saddened at the prospect
of his tragic death being used as political fodder for political opponents (i.e., Henry Waxman, et
al) of the noble duties he embraced in rejecting a multi-million-dollar professional-football
Tillmans' certainly deserve our sympathy, gratitude and respect. Their accusations do
not. I hope they will overcome the extent to which their understandable grief has impaired
their ability to judge others' mistakes in this matter with the same degree of fairness by which
they would have wanted any mistake by Pat Tillman to have been judged if he, as a fallible human
being, were to have made one. Of course I'm not even remotely suggesting that he made any such
mistake. But if he were to have made a grievous judgmental error motivated by misguided humane
considerations, they wouldn't want that factor to be ignored and for his error to be characterized
as malicious or criminal.
regarding the aspect of the hearing yesterday focusing on Jessica Lynch, as is typically the case
with politically-motivated hearings, the focus was on criteria that are more apparent than real to anyone
who closely followed the sequence of events by which initial reports of heroism on her part were
subsequently corrected. More on that later.
Jim Wrenn is Editor at
WrennCom.Com and Editor at
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