Hope its not a Dupe.
Military reopens probe of Tillman death
Inquiry into killing of football star to be reviewed
Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
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The Pentagon has reopened an investigation into last year's friendly fire killing of former football star Pat Tillman in combat in Afghanistan, saying it will begin a "review" of a previous Army probe that Tillman's parents and others have strongly criticized.
A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that the Defense Department's investigative arm, the inspector general, had begun the review, but he refused to comment further.
The parents, Patrick and Mary Tillman, who live in San Jose, cautiously welcomed the new investigation and said they hoped it would reveal a fuller picture of how their son had died in Afghanistan.
"The other investigations were frauds," Tillman's father, Patrick Tillman, said in a telephone interview with The Chronicle.
"Hopefully something will come of this," said Mary Tillman. "Many crucial things that happened did not come out in the earlier reports. People above should have been punished," she said, referring to Pat Tillman's commanding officers in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon made the announcement in a two-sentence statement released in response to an inquiry from The Chronicle.
"The Department of the Army has asked the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office to review the investigation into the death of Corp. Pat Tillman. That review is currently under way," read the statement.
Tillman, a graduate of Leland High School in San Jose, gave up a high-paying National Football League career with the Arizona Cardinals after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to join the Army Rangers. He spurned the Cardinals' offer of a three-year, $3.6 million contract extension, saying he wanted to serve his country. He was killed at age 27 on April 22, 2004, in a remote, mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border.
After his death, the Army initially told Tillman's family and the public that he had been killed in combat against Taliban guerrillas, leading troops up a hill under enemy fire. He was awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart, and President Bush lauded him as "an inspiration on and off the football field, as with all who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror."
Six weeks later, however, the Army admitted to Tillman's family that he had been killed by members of his own army detachment -- A Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
Since then, seven soldiers received administrative reprimands, but no high-ranking officers have been disciplined. Three internal investigations were carried out. The parents obtained heavily redacted versions from the Army, and they complained publicly that the documents showed that Pentagon commanders -- including Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command -- had known soon after Tillman's death that friendly fire had killed him.
In June 2005, after Tillman's parents harshly criticized the delay in informing them of the true circumstances of their son's death, the Army apologized.
"While procedural misjudgments and mistakes contributed to an air of suspicion, no one intended to deceive the Tillman family or the public as to the cause of his death,'' an Army statement said.
In recent months, Mary and Patrick Tillman, who are divorced, have waged separate yet determined lobbying campaigns in Congress to get the investigation reopened. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, supported their campaign and interceded with Pentagon officials.
During this period, the Tillmans have carefully kept a politically neutral stance, avoiding links with the anti-war movement that has adopted Cindy Sheehan in her protests over the death of her son Casey in Iraq.
"I am not involved with political agendas," said Patrick Tillman. "I only want to get to the bottom of this."
Both parents angrily recited the series of events that led to their son's death. According to testimony in previous investigations, commanding officers split Tillman's platoon in two because of a disabled vehicle, leaving Tillman in the first group and his brother, Kevin, in the second group. Explosions were heard, leading both groups to believe they were under Taliban attack.
Pat Tillman climbed a hill with another soldier and an Afghan militiaman, intending to attack the enemy fighters that they thought were above. In the confusion, however, an arriving second group mistook the Afghan militiaman for a Taliban fighter and began firing on Tillman's three-man squad. Tillman, crouching behind a rock, waved his arms, screamed his name and set off a smoke grenade to identify himself as a fellow Ranger, to no avail.
Both parents said the Army's most recent two investigations had changed key data in an apparent attempt to shield higher-ranking officers from blame for the botched operation.
"Almost every baseline fact of importance was changed -- distance, lighting, observation," said Patrick Tillman.
Mary Tillman pointed to what she said were discrepancies in the last two investigations, including whether the troops had been firing in the dark or in good visibility, whether the troops who killed her son had dismounted from their vehicle or were firing in a high-speed rush down the valley, and why Tillman's bullet-riddled flak jacket was burned immediately after his death rather than being preserved for a later investigation.
Guess no one gives a shit, I wonder why they burned his flack jacket?