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Tillman and Kovic on War and Sacrifice

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Posted on May 27, 2007
Pat and Kevin Tillman
Courtesy of the Tillman Family

Pat Tillman (left) and his brother Kevin in Saudi Arabia before their tour of duty as Army Rangers in Iraq in 2003.

After Pat’s Birthday

By Kevin Tillman

Originally posted on 10/19/06

Editor’s note: Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a powerful, must-read document.



It is Pat’s birthday on Nov. 6, and elections are the day after.  It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military.  He spoke about the risks with signing the papers.  How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people.  How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition.  How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice ... until we got out. 

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Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is.  Something like that.

 

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them.  Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a 5-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet.  It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a 5-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes. 

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground. 

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of habeas corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated. 

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense. 

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people.  So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity.  Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites. 

Luckily, this country is still a democracy.  People still have a voice.  People still can take action.  It can start after Pat’s birthday. 



Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman

Watch Kevin Tillman’s testimony before Congress from April 2007:

Mary Tillman on the military smokescreen:


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By cann4ing, October 21, 2008 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

Elena, you have my deepest sympathies.  I would suggest that you contact Amy Goodman at Democracynow.org; relay both your story and your desire to reach the Tillman family.  You may also want to e-mail Cindy Sheehan who is currently running against Nancy Pelosi in SF.

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By Elena Zurheide, October 21, 2008 at 11:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

trying to get ahold of the tillman family for my husband was also killed by friendly fire in iraq. the government also then lied to me about it. then three years later came to my house to tell me the trouth and to say they will not prosocut the soliders mistake in killing friendlies. any help pleas…..?

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By ardee, May 29, 2007 at 7:00 pm Link to this comment

#73617 by Janet on 5/29 at 1:56 am
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s hard to believe anyone would join the military, considering what the politicians do with the troops.

——
In many families military service is a point of honor and a tradition. Some see it as the ultimate expression of love for ones country. Others see service as a way to gain a useful trade or to amass funds for higher education.

Many currently being abused in Iraq and Afghanistan were already enlisted before it became clear how incompetent and cruel were the Bush/Cheney folks, thus it was too late for them, others enlisted in the fervor following 9/11, ditto. Currently enlistment is so far behind need that they are seeking desperately in Central and South America for enlistees, offering citizenship as bait…...

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By GrammaConcept, May 29, 2007 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

God is (still) Love, (all) war is (always) hell…...Strive On….....

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By Janet, May 29, 2007 at 2:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s hard to believe anyone would join the military, considering what the politicians do with the troops.

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By cann4ing, May 28, 2007 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment

Mike Mid-City’s comments about Blackwater are accurate and exceedingly timely.  On May 27 the Washington Post reported that Blackwater mercenaries [the Post refers to them as contractors] had opened fire on U.S.-supported Iraqi forces twice last week, killing an Iraqi driver near the Interior Ministry.

These mercenaries are exempt from prosecution under Iraqi law.  In “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s most powerful Mercenary Army,” Jeremy Scahill cites a June 2006 hearing in which Dennis Kucinich, after noting that American soldiers are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, questioned Shay Assad, the Pentagon’s Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition, the agency responsible for contractors. Kucinich:...“Now, if someone with a private contracting company was involved in the murder of of a civilian, would the Department be ready to recommend their prosecution?”  Assdad:  “Sir, I’m just not qualified to answer that question.”  Kucinich noted that “no security contractor has been prosecuted” and renewed his question, Assad said he couldn’t answer it.  Kucinich said, “Wow.  Think about what that means.  These private contractors can get away with murder.”

While Blackwater operates inside Iraq outside the U.S. chain of command, here in the U.S. it has asserted that it is immune from lawsuits because it is a part of the U.S. forces.  While this argument did not succeed in derailing a lawsuit brought by the families of the four Blackwater mercenaries whose charred remains were hung from a bridge in Falluja filed lawsuit, Blackwater attorneys persuaded an administration-friendly judge to order the lawsuit into secret arbitration.  One of the three arbitrators is William Webster, who neglected to mention that he headed the CIA when Cofer Black, now an executive at Blackwater was there.  Black has now been tapped as Mitt Romney’s anti-terrorism advisor.

So if Iraq can’t prosecute, the Pentagon won’t prosecute and even civil litigation is shunted aside, Blackwater has become a law onto itself.

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By Novista, May 28, 2007 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

An eloquent message here ... we can all heed his words.

“How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice ... until we got out. ” Too true.

shane commented, “But ultimately, we bear full responsibility.”

Seems to me the idea of responsibility implies a degree of power: the power to exercise proper judgment in selecting a course of action and to embark on that path. Now, if I reflect on the voice of the people in 2000, the popular decision went to Gore. And Bush became president ultimately by the vote of one man.

2004 was not as obvious but it’s not beyond the realm of the possible that the people’s voice was subverted again.

As poll results have continued downward, and yielded a clear decision of the will of the people by the increase in opposition members of Congress, we thought there would be a change of direction. So, yes, we the people had the power to effect something but nothing really changed.

Sure, we now have endless hearings and investigations, resignations, op-eds, public demonstrations. And nothing really changes.

When Congress can issue or threaten a subpoena and the response is “go fly a kite” (pardon the euphemism) how am I or any citizen responsible?

We have a voice. Letters, phone calls, email, blogs, whatever ... just a voice crying in the wilderness. And no-one cares.

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By ardee, May 28, 2007 at 5:55 pm Link to this comment

#73531 by Mike Mid-City on 5/28 at 4:21 pm
(78 comments total)

Well stated Mike,

Are you aware that the army now recruits in Central and South America, with the promise of citizenship after service? From one Vet to another, are you at all comfortable with this?

The private armies in Iraq, like Blackwater, Bushs’ dear friend, number in the tens of thousands, cost the taxpayer tens if not hundreds of millions, obey no rules of war, have been filmed indiscriminently shooting people on the streets and man some of the worst secret prisons. How do you feel about that? It sickens me, frankly.

Service to ones country is a sacred duty and avoiding the draft with its actually bringing this war home to all is a tactic of Bush and company to diminish the effects of this war on America.

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By ardee, May 28, 2007 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

RE: #73531 by Mike Mid-City on 5/28 at 4:21 pm
(78 comments total)

Well stated Mike,

Are you aware that the army now recruits in Central and South America, with the promise of citizenship after service? From one Vet to another, are you at all comfortable with this?

The private armies in Iraq, like Blackwater, Bushs’ dear friend, number in the tens of thousands, cost the taxpayer tens if not hundreds of millions, obey no rules of war, have been filmed indiscriminently shooting people on the streets and man some of the worst secret prisons. How do you feel about that? It sickens me, frankly.

Service to ones country is a sacred duty and avoiding the draft with its actually bringing this war home to all is a tactic of Bush and company to diminish the effects of this war on America.

Report this

By greenback, May 28, 2007 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What happened to Pat Tillman is a disgrace, yet another one under the Bush Administration. I believe Pat was murdered because he wasn’t going to remain silent upon discovering that the top US Brass had allowed Bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora.


check out
911 Truth and the Neo-Angst-Order

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=275113059872848770


After this video was released, the government has been on Pat Tillman cover-up campaign.

Pat was a real American Hero. His death needs to be investigated to the bitter end and to the highest seats of power.

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By greenback, May 28, 2007 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What happened to Pat Tillman is a disgrace, yet another one under the Bush Administration. I believe Pat was murdered because he wasn’t going to remain silent upon discovering that the top US Brass had allowed Bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora.

check out
911 Truth and the Neo-Angst-Order
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=275113059872848770

after this video was released, the government has been on Pat Tillman cover-up campaign.

Pat was a real American Hero. His death needs to be investigated to the bitter end and to the highest seats of power.

Report this

By Matt, May 28, 2007 at 9:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We need to address the problem of America’s Israel-centric foreign policy establishment. That is the heart of the monster.

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By TruthSeeker, May 28, 2007 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Only the dead have seen the end of war. War is a constant in the human condition.  It is amazing to me that we have yet to control this thing. Like Kennedy once said: “If we don’t put an end to war, war will put an end to us”.  Truer words have never been spoken.

For those of you interested in two truly outstanding essays on the condition of war, I highly recommend “Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War,” and “Human Hell and the Demons of War”. Links below.

http://valenzuelasveritas.blogspot.com/2004/11/only-dead-have-seen-end-of-war.html

http://valenzuelasveritas.blogspot.com/2006/09/human-hell-and-demons-of-war.html

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By Hammo, May 28, 2007 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

Many Americans, including the Tillman brothers, were tricked by the sophisticated propaganda and deception campaign by the Bush-Cheney administration and their associates.

How deep and wide is this deception operation, and what are the connections to oil, other “allies” in the region and the 9/11 attacks?

What was the involvement of Paul Wolfowitz and many others associated with him and the Bush-Cheney administration?

Food for thought in:

“Mind wars: Americans, global community are targets of deception on Iraq, threats to peace”

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=14097

-  -  -

“Congressional inquiries on Iraq War can enhance honor and strength of America”

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=16328

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By Verne Arnold, May 28, 2007 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

Mr. Tillman and Mr. Kovik,
You both have made very eloquent and right on statements regarding our present malaise.

Mr. Tillman; yours is a masterful reckoning of the present crimes against America by this administration.  Of all of the people, yours should be a rallying point and call to action.

As to the wounded, Mr. Kovik, you are the authority, beyond doubt!

God help us!

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By THOMAS BILLIS, May 28, 2007 at 1:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Honoring memorial day with this current bunch does disrespect to the brave men and women who have been wounded and died to protect the very rights that Mr Tillman have ennunciated have been taken away by this bunch.Not in the worst throes of Vietnam did the top executive dream he could take away our rights.Due to our own cowardice and fear we have allowed this bunch to do what our fathers and grandfathers would never have allowed.
If we as a country had even one iota of the bravery men and women who have defended our country had we would have never allowed that to happen.
I am not as optimistic as Mr Tillman.These are elected officials and represent us and I do not see us getting a backbone.My greatest fear is that we will be hit again and again due to our lack of courage we will give up whatever rights we have left.
This is not a memorial day to observe it brings shame to the men and women who have died.It is not enough to observe memorial day and unfurl your flag if we do not carry on this great experiment in democracy that those who have risked and given their lives to gave to us.

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By straight_talk_11, May 27, 2007 at 10:08 pm Link to this comment

“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is now controlled by its system of credit.

“We are no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominate men.”

Woodrow Wilson, 1919

It was under Woodrow Wilson’s presidency that the Federal Reserve Act was signed into law in 1913, granting power to a private consortium of bankers to print money and charge interest for it as loans to the government. The unconstitutionality of such laws had already been upheld by the supreme court. Before that signing, the government used its constitutional power to print its own money interest free and make it redeemable as gold and silver certificates.

All we have to do is trace the history of government documents on energy policy to clearly and explicitly see that our troops exist fundamentally to protect American industrial interests and lifestyle by ensuring energy supplies for our insatiable energy appetite. This goes back to the so-called oil embargo under Carter with the relatively explicit language found in foreign and military policy documents from that era on. However, it goes back much further with less explicit language.

For any of us with our our heads on half-way straight, it is a strong condemnation that Bush et al refused to make even token gestures toward energy independence until politically cornered, while committing to gargantuan financing for a “pre-emptive war” from the banking cartel (the private international banking consortium most of us innocently call by the gross misnomer “Federal” Reserve Board). Our government effectively works for this banking cartel, since the national debt is so large that our personal income tax (as opposed to corporate taxes) doesn’t even cover the interest, and so personal income tax goes to absolutely no government services, but instead…!

Well, let’s just say that it goes to all those lovely people who have personally financed and/or profited hugely from arms trade and most of the wars of the 20th century up until right here and now after the beginning of the 21st. The publicly-never-fully-listed participants in this cartel are today’s Great Pirates (a term Buckminster Fuller used for those who have historically actually run things).

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By G. Anderson, May 27, 2007 at 10:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Kevin, nothing I can say, can ever repay you, for the sacrifices you have made. You are a very couragous man. 

I am sorry that your brother was killed, and that his life was wasted, in a war we should have never fought. 

I can only hope, that someday, we as Americans will be offered a true accounting of this war, and that those who lied, manipulted, and abused our military will be brought to justice before a court of law.

That they should suffer a fitting sentence for what they have done to our service men and women, is the only thing that can be done to ease the pain, and allow the souls of our loved ones to rest in peace, and bring respect back to our country.

Those who have done this to our country, have no defense, through word or deed. What can they now say that would be believed? And if they had any honor at all they would resign, and save our country the shame of their continued presence. 

Sadly, for now it appears, that the voice of dead American’s can only be heard, and that the voices of the living, continue to be disrespected, with the same lies, the same manipulation, the same deceit that got us where we are now.

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By ardee, May 27, 2007 at 9:23 pm Link to this comment

I would add my thoughts to this quite moving thread, once my tear filled eyes allow me to type that is….

Two young Americans, moved to do their duty for the country they loved, one giving up great wealth to do so, and paying the ultimate price as well…....


Kevin Tillman has learned, in a way none of us should have to do so, about the hypocracy of our nations leadership. he has become a spokesperson for all who have sacrificed so much for those who deserve it so little. We should all of us, each and every one, think about the thousands of Americans and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have died to enrich a very few unprincipled bastards. We should renew our pledge to end this awful war, and to throw out the leadership that makes it continue, in any way necesary.

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By Sheila Burke, May 27, 2007 at 6:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Kevin,  I could never have been as respectful as were you when addressing the congress or senate or I guess it’s all the same.  Your speech was moving and masterful.  Having lost a big brother in Vietnam and having the Marines give my family several different explanations ; we still so not know how he died; I am so impressed with your valor.  I, having three kids, two boys who are 20 and 21,and their little sister, have a( hopefully not) insensitive question.  Why did you and your brother who are such obvious winners in so many ways trust the government in 2003?  Bush and Cheney and Rove were all Chickenhawks, Iraq had nothing to do with 911, the Saudis were the 911 terorists and Donald Rumsfeld and Condi Rice were running the Pentagon.  I just do not ever want to have my kids repeat the mistakes of my brothers who were both sent to Vietnam for what?  I will take any advice you have. They are,  smart, patriotic and compassionate like you.  Thanks for your true honor and integrity.  Sheila Burke, Eagle River, Alaska

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By Kwagmyre, May 27, 2007 at 6:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Posted by tlstrieg #73292:

“If you are unfamiliar with the Philippine insurrection that followed the Spanish American war, the parallels between it and Vietnam are remarkable.”

And closer to home of course we have the example of Bush Sr. and the unjustified, blitzkrieg like invasion of Panama.  And add the earlier invasion of Grenada while we’re at it as well.

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By QuyTran, May 27, 2007 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Sorry, Bush/Cheney do not know how to read this story. They only know how to make their wealth becoming thicker everyday and forget that they’re caught in dilemma !

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By tlstrieg, May 27, 2007 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

Politicians and preachers love to talk about those who have fought and died for our freedom, but perhaps if we are honest we should also talk about those who have fought and died for our follies, such as Vietnam and Iraq.  But while these two wars are the most recent major blunders of our political leadership, the list goes back much farther.  If you are unfamiliar with the Philippine insurrection that followed the Spanish American war, the parallels between it and Vietnam are remarkable.

Sadly, I guess we as a nation will never learn.

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By shawn, May 27, 2007 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

This is, perhaps, one of the most well-written indictments of those who bear the responsibility for our current situation.  The American people.

Sure, we can blame the President. And yes, we can blame both the last Congress and this one…  But ultimately, we bear full responsibility.

Democracy is not something to be exercised once every to two four years at the polling booth (something which a large portion of America cannot even be bothered with) but it is a full-time obligation… and being a citizen of this once-great nation comes with responsibility, not privilege.

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By FrostedFlakes, May 27, 2007 at 4:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

These comments are just as true today as they were when they were written originally. America was once a country to be proud of; however, as we get ready to observe this Memorial Day holiday, America has become a country to be ashamed of. The shameless loss of life, the unbridled war profiteering, the blind loyalty, the unadulterated lies and deception, the whole-hearted manipulation of the Armed Services, the breeching of our civil liberties, and the continued failed leadership of this country is more than enough to be embarrassed and ashamed of. And even after November, when we thought we were voting to bring about change, our elected officials continue to fail the American populace. The longer this goes on, the better expatriatism sounds. When the children of the profiteers of war become the soldiers on the ground, then and only then will America finally take a look at itself and admit it’s faults.

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By cann4ing, May 27, 2007 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

Kevin Tillman’s powerful, fact-filled presentation not only serves to expose the truth about his brother’s death but to expose the dispicable travesty that has been the hallmark of our Orwellian leadership.  As I watched it, I could not help but think of the cowardly reaction of the Democratic candidates for President when they stood like frozen statues in response to the question as to who would join with Dennis Kucinich in calling for the impeachment of that war criminal, Dick Cheney.  These are sad times when, despite overwhelming “public” support, we still lack an “elected leadership” capable of standing up to the lawless cabal that has stolen elections, stolen the presidency, stolen much of the national treasury and, most of all, stolen our honor.

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By James Yell, May 27, 2007 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is there any way to force the Bush/Cheney republicans to read this? The enabling Republican and Democratic leaders? The malicious, right wing radio nuts?

Of course the likelyhood of their understanding it isn’t very likely as they smeared Kerry, just because they wanted this rapine and murder.

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