By Marc Isenberg
I mostly write about sports and business, not politics. But perhaps sports and politics aren’t all that different, especially if you believe metaphorically-challenged coaches who can't help but describe sports as war. Then there are those in the military who pitch the benefits of war (good for something, despite what the song says) just like some ADs push woeful graduation rates (apparently not that bad after all).
All this brings me to the military’s handling of Pat Tillman’s death. Pat Tillman gave up a $3.6 million NFL contract to serve his country as an Army Ranger. Everything that has happened since the moment Pat Tillman was shot dead by an American soldier has been characterized as one lie after another.
Pat's mom, Mary Tillman, makes a compelling case that the aftermath of her son's death is the absolute lowpoint of the War on Terror.
The death of Pat Tillman, as unfortunate as it might sound, was a huge opportunity for the military and the Administration to generate interest in a just war. Despite the fact that high-ranking military officials (perhaps as high as Rumsfeld) knew that Tillman had not died by enemy fire, as was touted, no one stopped the charade until after Pat Tillman's nationally televised memorial service.
Pat Tillman will always be the symbol of everything that is great in our country. Great intellect, sports icon, patriot. Everybody's All-American. He was a hero in life and in death (although not in the way the military had in mind).
As if the Tillman family hasn't been through enough, high-ranking "leaders" keep giving them different accounts of what really happened. Perhaps Bob Arum could serve as a military spokesperson. At least he was honest about his lying when he famously said, "Yesterday I was lying. Today I’m telling the truth."
The Tillman family has released a statement pushing for Congressional hearings to uncover the truth. Also, Pat’s mother Mary appeared today on the Dan Patrick Show. Definitely worth listening to, whatever beliefs you have about this war. (Look under Pat Tillman Investigation for the audio from The Dan Patrick Show.)
Here are some of the lowlights:
Mary Tillman: They also said they had Pat’s diary. Pat’s diary in our minds has been missing for three years. And they said well no, they did find Pat’s diary. They burned it. They said there was information in there that had to do with operations or missions or something like that which was kind of ridiculous because Pat was really only an E4. He wouldn’t have had anything that was classified in his little notebook. That diary would belong to Pat’s wife.
Patrick: On the essential question, are you convinced that they are not lying to you when they tell you this was an accident?
Mary Tillman: I don’t know what you deem an accident. I think there was such gross negligence. In fact, the first investigative officer said there was evidence of homicidal negligence and criminal intent. And he stands by that. But yet his report has been devalued because it does not go along with what they want out there in the public eye.
Patrick: Why would they try to cover this up given the notoriety of your son?
Mary Tillman: Their attempts to cover it up are so outrageous from the outset that if they started admitting wrong then they would have to keep admitting such atrocious lies that it would get out of hand. The idea in my mind that this was not something that possibly even Rumsfeld was aware of is kind of ludicrous. You have admittedly four generals who are claiming they knew it was fratricide, didn’t act appropriately or there was errors and missteps. It seems to me that Rumsfeld would have to be aware of it.
They’re not going to destroy the uniform of their most high-profile soldier who was killed by fratricide without the knowledge of the Secretary of Defense. That’s my opinion.
Dan Patrick: In death do you believe this Administration used your son as a sales tool for war?
Mary Tillman: Absolutely...I definitely think Pat was used, When he was killed I think they saw this as an opportunity.
Mary also revealed that Pat Tillman had turned against the war and at the time of his death believed the war in Iraq was "illegal," which may explain why Pat's diary was destroyed.