August 11, 2007
3 (concluding) of The Fog of Fame: the
Death of Pat Tillman.
is the cover-up (of the fratricide). There is the original lie (that
Pat was killed in an intense combat engagement). There is the layering
of plausible denial in case the stories unravel.
motives of the spin-meisters were to pin a recruiting poster to
Pat's coffin. The motive of the cover-up (at least one of them)
was to preserve the mystique of the US Army Rangers -- the elite
of the infantry -- as flawless, disciplined, steely-eyed commandos.
for covering up? Which part?
there is the lie that "we didn't know until late May."
Finally, there is the highly probable lie that President George
W. Bush didn't know until late May either.
Waxman Committee was advised by the family to subpoena every scrap
of paper from Rumsfeld's or DeRita's office beginning April 15 and
ending May 15 2004. Therein is the likely paper trail of command
directives to show the metrics of "progress in Afghanistan,"
and therein is the paper trail of notification about the circumstances
of Pat's death and the further directives on how to handle it. The
subpoenas, as far as we can tell, were never issued.
first key mistake in covering up was a paper trail to the false
script: the Silver Star award, with its false narrative and its
construction in violation of the process required by Army Regulations.
a ground assault convoy in Afghanistan Tillman’s platoon
was split into two sections. Tillman was the team leader of the
lead section when the trail section began receiving suppressive
mortar and small arms fire. The nature of the cavernous terrain
made it extremely difficult to target enemy positions and there
was no room for the trail element to maneuver out of the kill
Tillman’s element was already safely out of the area under
fire Tillman ordered his team to dismount and maneuver his team
up a hill towards the enemy’s location.
Tillman crested the hill he maneuvered his team into positions
and himself with the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) returned
the firing Tillman’s voice was issuing fire commands to
take the fight to the enemy on the dominating high ground.
after his team engaged a well-armed enemy did it appear their
Tillman focused his efforts, and those of his team members without
regard to his personal safety he was shot and killed
second key mistake was the attempt to conceal the original investigation,
conducted by Captain Richard Scott.
the US Army Criminal Investigation Division briefing that I attended
with the Tillman family in March this year, Army officials stated
categorically that a report from the original investigation by Captain
Scott "does not exist." They said that more than once,
and they were emphatic.
Tillman now has a copy of the Scott Report, and so do I.
(15-6) 29 April 2004
MEMORANDUM FOR Commander. 2nd Battalion. 75th Ranger Regiment
SUBJECT: AR 15-6 Final Report
Purpose: To investigate the events and circumstances surrounding
the death of CPL Patrick D. Tillman
etc etc etc
the Tillmans left that briefing calling them liars, the Army CID
officials acted like Dannie Tillman had just shot their favorite
dog. Amazing... like they were being victimized by this little woman.
Army was perfectly justified in doing a second "AR-15-6 investigation."
Scott's report stated:
Two [the Albatross Section, in particular Staff Sergeant Baker's
vehicle] continued to fire their weapons systems without positively
identifying enemy forces once they got out of the enemy's kill
zone and mistakenly fired on friendly forces on the ridgeline.
Most notable was the lead GMV [ground mobility vehicle] led by
SSG Baker. By the time they were approaching the ridgeline where
friendly forces were positioned; [sic] Serial Two was not receiving
enemy fire. In fact, Serial Two never received effective enemy
fire throughout the entire enemy contact.
states clearly that Baker violated the ROE at a minimum, resulting
in the deaths of two men. He later uses the radioactive word "negligent."
ROE violations and negligent homicide are charges that could result
in a General Court Martial; and that requires by regulation an investigation
by a minimum O-5 (Lieutenant Colonel). No rank below LTC can act
as something called a General Court Martial Convening Authority
(GCMCA). So tasking Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Kauzlarich (the 75th
Ranger Regiment's Executive Officer) with a subsequent investigation
is strictly according to Hoyle.
problem was the phony Silver Star citation (where the cover-up and
lie converged on paper). The original report was "disappeared"
and when the new report was finished, statements had been changed
to "mitigate" for the shooters, and the "fog of war"
fabrications about light conditions, combat intensity, and distances.
entire 2nd Ranger Battalion in Khowst (at least 400 men) knew before
May Day -- via the Ranger grapevine -- what had happened. The whole
unit was then given an order to speak to no one at any time under
any circumstances about "the Tillman incident." They were
threatened with jail if they did. The notice was even posted in
the rear at Fort Lewis to silence rear detachment personnel. This
battalion was due to rotate back to Fort Lewis, Washington (near
Tacoma) in late May; and it finally dawned on the chains of command
that this was an untenable secret. Rangers (mostly kids between
19-25) come home and vent to wives. They drink in local bars. They
have loud conversations in public places. Anyone possessed of a
bad conscience can make an anonymous call to the press.
is likely when a certain panic began to set in. Anyone with a brain
could figure out two things:
the Army was going to have to 'fess up before the Rangers returned,
the Silver Star award narrative was already out there, irretrievable...
like a blood trail leading back to its authors.
and Rumsfeld were already looking for some distance. The backup
plan that developed was to announce the fratricide, then shut up
and ride it out.
DATE POSTED: MAY 28, 2004
MEDIA ADVISORY: USASOC to release Tillman investigation results
during May 29 press statement, U.S. Army Special Operations Command
Public Affairs Office
BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, May 28, 2004) — The U.S.
Army Special Operations Command will announce information about
the death of Cpl. Patrick D. Tillman during a press statement
here May 29.
Gen. Philip R. Kensinger, USASOC’s commanding general, will
address the media at Stryker Golf Course at 9 A.M. The statement
will concern a completed military investigation into the circumstances
of Tillman’s April 22 death in Afghanistan.
will depart after concluding his statement and will not be available
to take questions.
THE MEDIA: Members of the media who wish to attend the ceremony
should arrive at Fort Bragg’s Stryker Golf Course no earlier
than 8 a.m. Parking for media personnel will be reserved on the
left side of Stryker’s parking lot, with the row closest
to the clubhouse set aside for live trucks.
Live feeds will be permitted during the press statement. However,
organizations wishing to conduct a live stand-up must depart Stryker
prior to doing so.
stand-up locations are located at either end of Bragg Boulevard,
in front of the "Welcome to Fort Bragg" signs. Media
will not be allowed to remain at Stryker Golf Course, as this
will disrupt golf course operations.
RELEASE NUMBER: 040529-01
DATE POSTED: MAY 29, 2004
PRESS STATEMENT: USASOC announces Tillman investigation results
U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office
BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, May 29, 2004) — The U.S.
Army Special Operations Command announced information about the
death of Cpl. Patrick D. Tillman during a press statement here
Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., USASOC’s commanding general,
addressed the media at Stryker Golf Course at 9 A.M. The statement
concerned a completed military investigation into the circumstances
of Tillman’s April 22 death in Afghanistan and is presented
below in transcript format.
STATEMENT BY LT. GEN. PHILIP R. KENSINGER JR. DELIVERED AT 9:15
A.M., MAY 29 AT STRYKER GOLF COURSE, FORT BRAGG, N.C.
morning. I would like to make a brief statement on the events
surrounding the death of Corporal Pat Tillman April 22 in Afghanistan.
I will not be taking questions.
A military investigation by U.S. Central Command into the circumstances
of the 22 April death of Corporal Patrick Tillman is complete.
there was no one specific finding of fault, the investigation
results indicate that Corporal Tillman probably died as a result
of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy
results of this investigation in no way diminish the bravery and
sacrifice displayed by Corporal Tillman. [This is a bald-faced
effort to grandfather in a cover for the fraudulent Silver Star
award narrative. -SG] Corporal Tillman was shot and killed while
responding to enemy fire without regard for his own safety. He
focused his efforts on the elimination of enemy forces and the
protection of his team members. There is an inherent degree of
confusion in any firefight, particularly when a unit is ambushed,
and especially under difficult light and terrain conditions which
produce an environment that increases the likelihood of fratricide.
Tillman's platoon was ambushed with small arms and mortar fire
at about 7:30 p.m. local time while conducting combat operations
in the vicinity of Khowst, Afghanistan. The enemy ambush was immediately
responded to by a coalition patrol including Corporal Tillman
with direct fire, and an intense firefight lasting approximately
20 minutes ensued.
ambush was conducted by 10 to 12 enemy personnel from multiple
locations over approximately one kilometer in very severe and
constricted terrain with impaired light conditions. Following
initial contact, Corporal Tillman disembarked from his vehicle
and, in support of his unit, moved into position to suppress enemy
regret the loss of life resulting from this tragic incident. Our
thoughts and prayers remain with the Tillman family.
you all for being here this morning.
29, 2004. The die is cast. Kensinger is placed in the center. Sworn
statements in the investigative documents suggest the Kensinger
kicked and screamed not to be the one to deliver this press briefing.
But he was given his orders; he recited dutifully; and now he will
be looking for his out.
Kevin Tillman was reassigned to Headquarters Company in his battalion.
He is no longer comfortable working in Alpha Company, knowing that
one or more of his fellow Alphabots took his brother's life. Headquarters
Company Commander is none other than Captain Richard Scott.
had begun to interrogate anyone and everyone about what happened.
He had been separated from his unit on the scene -- before what
had happened was sorted out -- and redeployed stateside. His unit
was commanded not to talk to him about what happened.
he nor his family knew Pat had been killed by fratricide until five
weeks after the fact; and he was livid. In a casual conversation
with Captain Scott, Kevin repeated a remark he had heard about the
investigation. Captain Scott, before he thought, commented, "That's
not what I found in my investigation."
cat was out of the bag.
every damn where.
tough cat, however, was "Mama T." Dannie. Now that her
mistrust of the government was aroused, she sank her teeth into
the investigation and has not to this day let go of it. She won't
either. In May,2006, she asked me if I would help "interpret"
the military documents. Shortly afterwards, she sent me two news
stories she'd tracked down.
Myers Visits Afghanistan
April 16, 2004
Afghanistan - Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the U.S.
joint chiefs of staff, headed to Afghanistan on Friday amid a
stepped up campaign to kill or capture Osama bin Laden and a growing
urgency to stabilize the country for historic elections.
visit comes one day after an audiotape purportedly recorded in
the past few weeks by bin Laden offered European nations a truce
if they pull troops out of Muslim countries and vowed violence
against the United States and Israel.
al-Qaida chief and his right-hand man, Egyptian surgeon Ayman
al-Zawahri, are believed hiding in the craggy mountains between
Pakistan and Afghanistan, but a 2 1/2 year dragnet has failed
to catch them. The military recently pulled back from predictions
that bin Laden would be caught sometime this year.
the past month, Washington has sent 2,000 Marines to Afghanistan
to beef up a U.S.-led force that had already numbered 13,000 soldiers.
The military has vowed a sweeping spring offensive to crush Taliban
and al-Qaida holdouts ahead of presidential and parliamentary
elections scheduled for September.
United Nations and others have warned that the elections will
fail if security cannot be improved.
insurgents attacked Afghan soldiers in eastern Khost province,
along the border with Pakistan, killing two soldiers and injuring
two others, Gen. Khial Bas, the local Afghan military commander,
told The Associated Press on Friday. He said nine militants were
killed in the exchange of rocket and machine-gun fire on Wednesday
pay attention here. "Taliban insurgents attacked Afghan soldiers
in eastern Khost province, along the border with Pakistan, killing
two soldiers and injuring two others, Gen. Khial Bas, the local
Afghan military commander, told The Associated Press on Friday.
He said nine militants were killed in the exchange of rocket and
machine-gun fire on Wednesday … "
star Tillman makes 'ultimate sacrifice’
Safety, who gave up big salary to join Army, killed in Afghanistan
NBC, MSNBC and news services
Updated: 3:39 a.m. ET April 26, 2004
- Pat Tillman, who gave up the glamorous life of a professional
football star to join the Army Rangers, was remembered as a role
model of courage and patriotism Friday after military officials
said he had been killed in action in Afghanistan.
Tillman was an inspiration on and off the football field, as with
all who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror.
His family is in the thoughts and prayers of President and Mrs.
Bush," Taylor Gross, a spokesman for the White House, said
in a statement.
John McCain, R-Ariz., the author of a recent book about courage,
said he was "heartbroken" and raised the prospect
that "the tragic loss of this extraordinary young man"
could be a "heavy blow to our nation’s morale, as
it is surely a grievous injury to his loved ones."
27, was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, based
at Fort Lewis, Wash. The battalion was involved in Operation Mountain
Storm in southeastern Afghanistan, part of the U.S. campaign against
fighters of the al-Qaida terror network and the former Taliban
government along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, military officials
told NBC News.
military spokesman Lt. Col. Matthew Beevers said Saturday that
Tillman was killed Thursday night in a firefight at about 7 p.m.
on a road near Sperah, about 25 miles southwest of a U.S. base
coming under fire, Tillman’s patrol got out of their vehicles
and gave chase, moving toward the spot of the ambush. Beevers
said the fighting was "sustained" and lasted 15-20
said Tillman was killed by enemy fire, but he had no information
about what type of weapons were involved in the assault, or whether
he died instantly.
Afghan militiaman fighting alongside Tillman also was killed,
and two other U.S. soldiers were wounded.
local Afghan commander, Gen. Khial Bas, told The Associated Press
that nine enemy fighters were killed in the confrontation.
said six other enemy fighters were believed to have escaped. Beevers
said he had no information about any enemy fighters killed.
Did you get that?
16, 2004, six days before Pat Tillman was killed, Afghan militia
General Khial Bas is in contact, when two "allies" are
killed along with two wounded, and nine "insurgents"
are killed in the confrontation.
22, 2004, Afghan militia General Khial Bas was not only with Pat
Tillman and the Black Sheep Platoon, but the two wounded are 1LT
Uthlaut and RTO Jade Lane, the two killed are Pat Tillman and an
Afghan militiaman – who even the Department of Defense hasn’t
seen fit to identify with his actual name, and the intrepid militia
of said General Bas prove again that they have the remarkable ability
to kill exactly nine enemy in each confrontation.
latter story was given out by the Public Affairs Officer in Kabul,
Matthew Beevers. Some overworked, under-slept E-5 writing that day’s
scripted message slipped up and mixed the boilerplates. The point
is, there was no attention being paid to real events except to re-script
them. The "official" statement is always, first and
last, designed to prop up a public perception, not inform or educate
the public … far from it.
kind of thing happens when too many cooks are in the kitchen and
supper is late. There were already a lot of cooks in the kitchen
in April 2004, and Pat’s death by fratricide constituted a
major emergency for them all.
was triage by committee.
was not with Pat; and nine enemy were not killed during the engagement
on April 22nd.
Tillman was now onto them, and onto them good.
cannot claim perfect accuracy for this account any more than any
other journalistic organ can, because the witnesses themselves were
making eyewitness accounts, the original statements by the participants
were not made for days after the incident, and the original investigation
was torn up when it proved too politically sensitive to ever see
the light of day. The statements taken during the second investigation,
where the investigating officer had a tremendous conflict of interest,
had been altered.
case that we are making here is – in legal jargon –
circumstantial. The case for which the Department of Defense has
settled so far is based on eyewitness statements, some of which
have changed and many of which were obviously being coached and
led when one reads the transcripts of the interviews – and
we have all of them from the second and third iteration of investigation.
It needs to be pointed out, since the military is hiding behind
legal customs and cultural biases about evidence, that the record
of accuracy for circumstantial evidence is acutely stronger than
that for eyewitness testimony.
association of physical evidence with time-space correlations is
what circumstantial evidence is. If I have purchased a gun at store
X at 3:15 PM on a given day, twenty miles from my home, and an ATM
machine records a withdrawal by me one block from the store at 3
PM, that does not "prove" that I bought the gun…
but it sure as hell places me within range of the gun store at the
the gun store owner is asked who was at the store at 3:15 on that
day, and can he identify me, when even a few days have passed, what
exactly will he remember… really? How many readers can remember
exactly what happened yesterday at 3:15 PM?
fact, studies suggest that as many as 5,000 wrongful convictions
happen in the US each year based on eyewitness testimony.
is why I made the provocative claim that law – and the legalism
that is used as a cover by public officials – is not science-based.
It is the manifestation of custom and precedent, and it has a deeply
religious character – complete with church-like courtrooms
designed to inspire awe and obedience, incantations to ritualize
its activity, and even priestly robes for the presiding judges.
trial, for example, is one exercise of the law. The so-called objectivity
of the law, which pretends it has no point of view, renders the
law a mirror of the status-quo.
assumption that holds sway, with or without the formal recognition
of the law, enters the courtroom, then, as a fact of nature –
a universality, something above and immune from the actual living
bodies and all their turbulent histories in the courtroom. This
is why every trial that purports to be objective is a lie. This
reflection of the status quo that calls itself objectivity, and
pretends it has no point of view, reflects power ... then surrounds
that power in a force field of invisibility.
want to look behind that legalism, to establish, as far as possible,
what the circumstances were before, during, and after the actual
firefight, and give the public a peek at the muttering functionaries
behind the legal curtain of the Great Oz.
is no way to understand what happened once Pat Tillman fell on April
22 without tearing down that curtain, without rejecting the myth
of legal "objectivity."
will begin, instead, with the denied reality that Pat Tillman’s
death was an "emergency" on multiple scales. We will
not begin with the disingenuousness and selective amnesia of the
were these emergencies, and for whom?
April 22, the day Pat was killed, Rumsfeld was chastising the press
for not telling the public the "good news" about what
was happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.
said that because there was no good news... unless you were a partisan
of the Iraqi resistance or an opium farmer in Afghanistan.
Di Rita will be remembered, if at all, by history as the guy who
was selected to publicly deny that there was any evidence available
to the Pentagon that desecration of the Koran, including putting
them in the toilet, was a regular part of detainee abuse in the
Guantanamo Bay concentration camp.
Rita is the Principle Deputy Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs;
but he is also one of Rumsfeld’s closest advisors, a veteran
of the Heritage Foundation, one of the premier neo-con think-tanks
leading the charge to invade Iraq. Di Rita is a very influential
character. There is little doubt that he was intimately involved
in the damage control over Pat Tillman being killed by fellow Rangers.
Rumsfeld runs the entire Department of Defense; and Lawrence Di
Rita is specifically assigned to the chief coordinator of Pentagon
the battle of perception management," said Di Rita said in
December 2004, "where the enemy is clearly using the media
to help manage perceptions of the general public, our job is not
perception management but to counter the enemy's perception management."
This was Di Rita’s defense of the Information Operations Roadmap,
the same program that replaced the Office of Strategic Influence,
the first Pentagon program to plant false stories in the news as
part of "operations."
Pat Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004, the stories about detainee
abuse at Guantanamo Bay were already boiling over, and Di Rita was
putting in a lot of late nights on this story. The four "civilians"
that were killed and burned in the ambush at Fallujah were not having
the desired effect of mobilizing outrage so much as they were drawing
attention to the extensive use of mercenaries by the Department
incident then obliged the Rumsfeld Pentagon to demonstrate its collective
masculinity by attempting the destruction of the entire city of
Fallujah. The attack failed, and a second front opened up in Najaf
after US troops killed Shia demonstrators protesting the Coalition
Provisional Authority that had arbitrarily shut down one of their
newspapers. The Abu Ghraib scandal was to be broken by 60 Minutes
on April 28, though the televised news magazine had informed the
Pentagon of their intent to air two weeks prior … around April
the time the news that Pat Tillman had been killed by friendly fire
arrived at Di Rita’s and Rumsfeld’s offices, presumably
around April 24, the Public Affairs Office was overwhelmed, and
the issue had to be triaged. In fact, two forms of triage were in
they had to step on bad news – especially anything that
ran counter to the tale of ubiquitous professionalism they needed
to counter the recurring stories of US abuse, and
they needed, as Rumsfeld noted on the fateful day, "good
Abizaid, commander of Central Command, was embroiled in the breaking
Abu Ghraib scandal even as he was losing a two-front campaign in
Najaf and Fallujah. Someone who was not similarly tangled up would
have to handle the Tillman episode for the moment, with only general
guidance: no reports on fratricide, not right now, and turn this
into something that re-kindles American patriotic feeling for the
Kensinger, presumably, was given the guidance from Abizaid’s
staff. Kensinger passed it along to the logical person. Colonel
Nixon, who passed it along to the second investigator, his XO, LTC
Ralph Kauzlaurich. Before the after-action review was even conducted
... commanders had worked out the outlines. A Silver Star and a
tale of American heroism. It wouldn’t be until CPT Richard
Scott, the HHC/2-75 Company Commander, filed his Article 15-6 investigation
findings that people would begin to appreciate how bad this was
going to make the entire chain of command look.
had an emergency. And with that emergency, another troop had one,
too. SSG Greg Baker, the NCO in charge of the killer vehicle outside
of Manah on April 22nd. Hodne’s creation of a "false
sense of urgency" amid the pressure from Rumsfeld’s
Pentagon to "show success," was now paired with Baker’s
fate under the cloud of a possible criminal negligence charge that
could spread to his whole crew that day, in one report – written
by Captain Richard Scott. That report – which was the result
of an Article 15-6 investigation that was completed – had
disappear it did.
Dannie Tillman, after three years of relentless badgering, choked
the "non-existent" report out of the Army. And after three
years, Dannie continues to hang on.
all the things the Army, the Department of Defense, and the Bush
administration didn't see through the fog of fame that drifted in
around the broken body of Pat Tillman, the most formidable danger
to their fraudulence, their criminal ambition, and their skulking
evasions of responsibility, was a woman. One woman, who could not
rescue her son, but who still has it in her power to rescue his
memory as the actual person she once pushed into the world.
rambling here is a rushed and feeble attempt to protect and support
her efforts. It's not tidy. But I had to put some of these things
out there. I hope it helps.
Goff is the author of "Hideous
Dream: A Soldier's Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti"
(Soft Skull Press, 2000), "Full
Spectrum Disorder" (Soft Skull Press, 2003). He is retired
from the United States Army. His blog is at www.stangoff.com.
can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org