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Congress wants answers on Tillman, Lynch

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April 11, 2007

041107tillman.jpgA U.S. House committee announced Tuesday it would hold hearings on misleading military statements that followed the friendly fire death of Pat Tillman (left) in Afghanistan and the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch in Iraq.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said an April 24 hearing would be part of its investigation into whether there was a strategy to mislead the public.

“The truth, the truth, this is only a search for the truth,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference in San Francisco. “It’s about holding this administration accountable for the message that it sends out. … It’s about reality.”

Word of the hearings comes two weeks after the Pentagon released the findings of its own investigations into Tillman’s death, and three years after he was killed.

The committee has been quietly investigating the case since then and decided to add Lynch to the scope of its probe.

One or more members of the Tillman family will probably testify, the committee said. Tillman’s mother and father did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday.

Lynch’s spokeswoman, Aly Goodwin Gregg, said Lynch also will testify. “She was very interested in doing so. She’s used every opportunity to tell what really happened and to talk about the real heroes of that day,” Gregg said.

Tillman’s family has said the previous probes were inadequate and did not sufficiently address the role of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in hiding from them for five week the true circumstances of the former NFL player’s death. The Army publicly maintained during that time that Tillman had been killed by enemy fire, when in fact dozens of officers knew his fellow Rangers shot him after a chaotic ambush.

Tillman’s death received worldwide attention because he had walked away from a huge contract with the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the Army after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Lynch, a 21-year-old former Army supply clerk, became one of the most visible faces of the war when she was rescued from an Iraqi hospital after being captured by Iraqi forces April 1, 2003. Eleven U.S. soldiers were killed where her convoy was attacked, and six, including Lynch, were captured.

Her videotaped rescue by special forces branded Lynch a hero at a time the U.S. war effort seemed bogged down. It also stirred complaints of government media manipulation.

It wasn’t clear if the committee planned to call officials with knowledge of the cases to testify during the hearing, titled “Misleading Information from the Battlefield.”

The committee, run by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., a frequent Bush administration critic, has launched several investigations since Democrats took power in Congress in January. It has not issued subpoenas in any of its probes, including one into the administration’s claims that Iraq sought uranium from Niger and another into contacts between lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the White House.

The House Armed Services Committee also is considering Tillman hearings, a spokeswoman for that panel said Monday.

“I think it’s very important to find out why mistaken, erroneous, false information was provided concerning this tragic death, both to the family and to the American people,” said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., the No. 2-ranking member of the oversight committee behind Waxman.

In all, the Army and Defense Department have conducted five investigations into Tillman’s April 22, 2004 death, with the most recent one pointing toward high-ranking military officers knowing the circumstances of his death long before Tillman’s family.

One top-ranking officer, then-Maj. General Stanley McChrystal, tried to warn President Bush a week after Tillman’s death to avoid repeating in speeches the official Army line: that Tillman had been killed by enemy forces. McChrystal knew an investigation would probably conclude it was friendly fire, according to internal Pentagon memos obtained by The Associated Press.

The White House says Bush never got the message from McChrystal, who still heads military special operations. But Gen. John Abizaid, chief of Central Command at the time, did get the information before Tillman’s family.

“The deception surrounding this case was an insult to the family,” Tillman’s relatives said in a news release after the Pentagon’s findings were disclosed March 26, “but more importantly, its primary purpose was to deceive a whole nation.

“Perhaps subpoenas are necessary to elicit candor and accuracy from the military,” they said.

–SCOTT LINDLAW


Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

3 Responses to Congress wants answers on Tillman, Lynch

  1. Doubtom

    April 11, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    Apart from the current episodes involving Tillman and Lynch, the military brass section has always actively looked for situations that can be embellished with a little bullshit to create a hero. All the better if the situation is a royal screw-up, as it both covers the mistake and creates a hero. What’s to lose? You pin a piece of tin on the soldier’s chest (or casket) and the problem goes away.

    From my own experience in Vietnam, I remember a directive that came down from our local Navy boss that demanded we submit more of our personnel for medals, as the record indicated the Army (in the same area) were getting many more medals than the Navy. This resulted in automatic batches of medals for the Navy personnel. We became heros overnight. Ah, the glory of war! By the way, I opted out of that hero program.

  2. Wayne K Dolik

    April 11, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    A recent visit to the DOD website turned up some of the disinformation techniques that the Military is investigating. Therefore, the Military has been considering using propaganda as part of the overall military strategy. We saw evidence of this in the newspapers in Iraq recently. Did our Military choose propaganda over truth?

    The Bush regime is well known for creating “it’s own reality”. This theory has its roots in fascism. I welcome this insightful investigation. The point is that, our Military needs to deal in reality. False reality and lies will only further weaken our Armed Forces. Unfortunately, the current Administration knows nothing about History, the Constitution or the Truth.

  3. nuQler Ostrich

    April 11, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    And what about the phony photo-op Saddam statue toppling incident?

    A long-range photo showed that the area was cordonned off from regular Iraqis and the “crowd” was mostly reporters with cameras and about 20 or so “rent an Iraqi” agents from Ahmed Chalabi pentagon plane flight that landed in Baghdad several days earlier.

    A photo in the WaPo showd the same faces we saw as “jubilant Iraqis” in the statue shots.

    Another phony photo-op, and it should be investigated with the rest of the misleading things the press has dutifully regurgitated for their viewing public.

    Like the “spider hole” that Saddam was supposedly hiding in. Supposedly in a different season since the ripe dates can be seen in the pictures. Another lie.

    Expose them all!