Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Is Lack of Shame an Administrative Error?

Salon’s War Room writes about the death of Pat Tillman again today. They’ve been covering this story pretty extensively, actually. Have you heard about it? A refresher – Pat Tillman played in the NFL, but gave up his multi-million dollar contract to go fight in Afghanistan. Then, he was killed in a heroic battle, giving his own life to save the lives of those in his platoon.

Or did he? Nope. Turns out an “administrative error” was made which they didn’t “discover” until after his nationally televised funeral, after the story had been usurped by Bush to boost his own popularity, and after Tillman had been posthumously given the Silver Star. The “administrative error” was calling it heroic, when actually he was killed by his own bumbling unit. Oops! By the way, Pat Tillman’s mom isn’t buying the “administrative error” bit.

I admit I’ve been a little blasé about this story. I feel for the guy, and for his mom, but I guess I’ve felt that this was just another case of Bush lying, and there are so many lies that you have to be selective about those which cause the outrage. There’s another side to this story too. The man still died serving his country. It’s still heroic. Just as heroic as the other 1,700+ men and women who have given their lives in these wars. I’m certainly not offering up any personal sacrifice, am I? Bush isn’t asking anyone to give up anything to help support these wars, not even the rich motherfuckers and their massive tax cut. So big ups to Pat anyway. And there’s a strange cloud that hovers over fratricide in wars. Parents are ashamed and sometimes alienated by other soldier’s parents as though the soldier killed by friendly fire did something wrong. But think about how that might happen. You’re in a firefight with the enemy when suddenly you realize you’re surrounded or trapped. Oh no! Call in air support! Hiding in some bunker, hoping just to survive, you hear the American bomber planes coming in to the rescue. What a relief! I might survive! And in the haze of war, they start attacking your position! Fuck! Stop! Stop! It’s too late, and your buddy is dead. In a way, it’s worse than just being killed by the enemy, isn’t it? Your hope shattered in an instant. Why should that soldier’s parent be ashamed of him? He still died a hero.

Anyway, like I said, I haven’t really been following this story too closely until I read this line in Salon this morning:

"The publicly unreleased files also present major contradictions of fact and logic as to how this fratricide occurred, including questions about the decision to split Tillman's unit; why the shooting continued even after the identification of the target as friendly by the driver of the attack vehicle; what were the light conditions and distances involved; what was the medical treatment administered; and how was it decided to burn Tillman's clothes and body armor, which bore tell-tale markings of penetration by U.S. ammunition.
That’s the part that got me. It’s one thing if the Pentagon decides to sort of play along with Bush’s preferred storyline. But they actually burned the evidence of their mistake. That’s like CSI kind of shit there. That means that they weren’t just lying, they were going out of their way to cover it up. There’s a word for that – conspiracy. It sullies the Army, the president, and unfortunately poor Mr. and Mrs. Tillman.

I’d like to say “for shame” but that’s not even the worst thing our armed forces have done in the last few years.

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