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Playing the Atheism Card Against Pat Tillman’s Family
Posted on Jul 28, 2006
By Stan Goff
Editor?s note: The author of this essay, Stan Goff, is a retired veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces. During an active-duty career that spanned 1970 to 1996, he served with the elite Delta Force and Rangers, and in Vietnam, Guatemala, Grenada, El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Somalia and Haiti.
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Goff is the author of the books ?Hideous Dream—A Soldier?s Memoir of the U.S. Invasion of Haiti,? ?Full Spectrum Disorder—The Military in the New American Century? and ?Sex & War.?
In this article Goff writes on the events surrounding the fratricidal death of Army Ranger and former NFL player Pat Tillman, and the possible military coverup that ensued.
Goff argues that Tillman?s commanding officer, in a recent ESPN magazine interview, made a series of shockingly callous statements about the Tillman family?s search for the truth because the officer was trying to divert attention from the role he may have played in the alleged coverup.
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His research for those articles included a detailed review of more than 2,500 pages of official briefings and documents from three investigations, in addition to extensive interviews with Tillman family members and some of the soldiers in Tillman?s unit.
Editor’s note #2
Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Kauzlarich, was originally described as the Cross-Commander at Forward Operating Base Salerno on Khowst, Afghanistan. That was incorrect. The Cross Functional Team Commander (“Cross-Commander”) under which Pat Tillman’s unit was working at the time of his death was a Major Hodney. Kauzlarich was one step above Major Hodney, as his Regimental Executive Officer. The Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan was under the operational control (OPCON) to a highly secretive joint command, which accounts for much of the difficulty in clarifying both the circumstances of Pat Tillman’s death and the subsequent actions taken at several levels of command to conceal and spin the circumstances surrounding his death.
Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich has taken Christ into his heart, or so he says. Like my old colleague, Lt. Gen. William G. (?Jerry?) Boykin, he has also carried the organically entrapped messiah onto the heathen-infested battlegrounds of Southwest Asia. Kauzlarich is the subject of my exposition today, but Boykin is his context.
You all remember Jerry Boykin—the general who, as part of the Bush 2003 civil relations effort in Iraq, called Muslims idol worshippers.
Back in the Reagan days, Boykin and I were simultaneously assigned to the allegedly super-secret Delta Force. He was a major then, and he would organize prayer breakfasts for the unit, driving many of us out of the building to purchase sausage-biscuits. His evangelical lunacy was already under siege then. Special Operations is a motley fraternity, in which operators are as likely to worship Odin or an oak tree as they are to attend Sunday services.
Boykin?s recent rise is symptomatic of War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld?s fascination with Special Operations—in spite of its generally dismal record. Kauzlarich was on the same career fast track when he was the 75th Ranger Regiment?s executive officer* (see editor’s note #2 above) at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Khoust, Afghanistan, in 2004.
Bishop Boykin, shooting from the lip, asserted in 2003 that the U.S. military adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq involved ?an Army of God? squaring off against Satan.
Beelzebub himself! Can?t say Jerry lacks ambition. Of course, the Satanists in this case were the very Muslims that the administration was trying to recruit as political puppets in the oil patch.
For this subtle bit of international relations, Boykin was punished by promotion to the position of deputy undersecretary of defense for? intelligence. Yes, the pun is nearly unbearable.
And so Boykin ascended. As the Haitian proverb says: The higher the monkey climbs, the more you see his ass.
Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, on the other hand, is not exactly being placed center-stage at the Pentagon. More than any other single person below the rank of general, he is probably most responsible for the Pentagon?s embarrassment when NFL-player-turned-Army-Ranger Pat Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004, by his own comrades.
Kauzlarich has been energetically avoiding responsibility for the fratricidal incident ever since.
It appears from reading the documents in the incident that he and others in the military may have violated multiple laws—including obstruction of justice, evidence tampering and conspiracy.
Kauzlarich may have conspired with others to award an inappropriate Silver Star, complete with a phony account of the events surrounding Tillman?s death. Members of Tillman?s chain of command attended Tillman?s memorial service without breathing a word to the family about what really happened, and it appears, again from the documents, that Kauzlarich deep-sixed the original investigation, which he then had redone under his personal supervision.
The Army?s criminal investigation division and the Pentagon?s Inspector General are currently investigating Tillman?s death and the events that ensued.
Kauzlarich now looks to Nov. 7, 2006, with a gnawing disquiet. Only a thin congressional majority that stand between a nemesis like Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and the chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee. Subpoena authority might transform a mere gavel into a mighty political weapon.
But in the meantime, a recent ESPN.com exposé by Mike Fish aired an interview with Kauzlarich, who was the ?cross commander? of the Rangers in Khoust, Afghanistan, in April 2004. Kauzlarich, in a stunning display of Christian empathy, blamed the family for continuing to ask questions about the circumstances of Pat?s death, and suggested that the reason they?d found no closure was that infidels such as themselves (the Tillmans did not belong to a church), when they die, are only ?worm dirt.?
A choice of words worthy of Bishop Boykin, who is surely beaming with pride at this officer?s devout diction.
?His parents continue to ask for it to be looked at,? Kauzlarich told Fish petulantly. ?And that is really their prerogative. And if they have the right backing, the right powerful people in our government to continue to let it happen, then that is the case.?
Playing the victim. A broadly effective tactic in the case of international military aggression, domestic battery (she made me do it) and politically motivated coverups.
In fact, powerful people in government have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the case by the dogged persistence of Pat?s family. So far the government?s efforts have been to assign aides to do enough to get the family off its back, and submit queries to the military that are answered with the same contradictions and equivocations that provoked the family?s suspicion in the first place.
?But there [have] been numerous unfortunate cases of fratricide,? Kauzlarich told ESPN, ?and the parents have basically said, ?OK, it was an unfortunate accident.? And they let it go. So this is—I don?t know, these people have a hard time letting it go. It may be because of their religious beliefs.?
Nothing to do with the fact that the Department of Defense lied to them until the impending redeployment of in-the-know Ranger batallion back to the U.S. made the revelation of fratricide inevitable ? oh no.
The office of Defense Department public relations official Lawrence Di Rita should have purchased high-quality shredders for all commanders. The documents pertaining to the first three of six investigations contain generous and often gratuitous redactions. They were given to the Tillman family, and through them to CNN, to ESPN—oh yes, and to me. They show that it was the impending redeployment of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, Pat Tillman?s unit, in which the real story of his death was general knowledge, that compelled the Department of Defense to come clean, sort of.
?When you die,? the Reverend Kauzlarich explained to ESPN?s Fish, ?I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don?t believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt.?
A theological term perhaps.
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