From documents already released, it has become clear that the Army acted inappropriately following the death of Pat Tillman, destroying evidence, instituting an “information lockdown” and possibly even discussing a PR strategy. Congress will now investigate the matter, with the aid of uncensored documents and testimony from the Tillman family.
San Francisco Chronicle:
But even the redacted records from three Army investigations and an inspector general’s report provide clues that Congress will use to determine whether a cover-up took place, including:
- deliberate destruction of evidence;
- testimony from soldiers who claim they were told to keep quiet about key details of Tillman’s death;
- false or distorted information in casualty reports, the field hospital report and press releases about Tillman’s death;
- a grossly inaccurate depiction of Tillman’s battlefield actions in his citation for the Silver Star award, including fabrications in eye witness statements;
- evidence that Army officials discussed a public relations strategy on how to handle his death;
- allowing a nationally televised memorial to proceed with false information.
Within hours of Pat Tillman’s death, the Army went into information-lockdown mode, cutting off phone and Internet connections at a base in Afghanistan, posting guards on a wounded platoon mate, and ordering a sergeant to burn Tillman’s uniform.
New investigative documents reviewed by The Associated Press describe how the military sealed off information about Tillman’s death from all but a small ring of soldiers. Officers quietly passed their suspicion of friendly fire up the chain to the highest ranks of the military, but the truth did not reach Tillman’s family for five weeks.
The clampdown, and the misinformation issued by the military, lie at the heart of a burgeoning congressional investigation.