Locking Down the Truth

Why did it take five weeks for Pat Tillman's family to learn that his death was caused by friendly fire? This is why:

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.

Wounded by the same friendly fire, Spc. Jade Lane was puzzled to find guards stationed at his hospital bed in Afghanistan.

Later, he said, he learned the reason for their presence: The news media were sniffing around, and Lane's superiors "did not want anyone talking to us," he said.

From another soldier, who learned about Tillman's death when it was reported to the Forward Operating Base where he was assigned:

"The phones and Internet had been cut off, to prevent anyone from talking about the incident," he told investigators.

Among the costs of secrecy: integrity.

Ranger Spc. Russell Baer had witnessed Rangers shooting at Rangers. Afterward, he was directed to travel from Afghanistan to the United States with his friend Kevin Tillman. But he was ordered not to tell Pat Tillman's brother and fellow Ranger that friendly fire was the likely cause of the former football player's death.

He kept the secret, fearing he did not know the whole story. But in a personal protest, Baer later went AWOL and was demoted as punishment.

"I lost respect for the people in charge of me," Baer testified in an earlier Tillman investigation. He had gleaned "part of the puzzle" of Tillman's death, but lamented that "I couldn't tell them about it."

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  • Display: Sort:
    Mission Accomplished (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 06:36:12 PM EST
    Covering up reality is job #1.

    And denying doing that (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Edger on Fri Apr 20, 2007 at 07:12:30 PM EST
    is job #2, as I won't be surprised to see in this thread.

    what i fail to understand (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by cpinva on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 02:48:25 AM EST
    is the reason for all this? that he was killed by friendly fire makes his service and sacrifice no less honorable. friendly fire deaths occur in any war; try as we might, in the fog and frenzy of battle, it's going to happen.

    this was completely unnecessary, and whoever thought this was a good idea should be court martialed, the charge being "massive stupidity, detrimental to the army". then, before they're led to to the stockade, they should be slapped vigorously in the face, just for being an idiot.

    Y'see (none / 0) (#5)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 11:37:13 AM EST
    Burning his clothes after they fragged him is like burning the flag after it touches the ground. It's really all about respect!

    Information lock down (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Apr 21, 2007 at 10:05:36 AM EST
    as far as phones and internet being shut down in an area where troops are killed is normal.  Everybody wants to know when their loved ones have been hurt or killed and when we get any kind of word that something has happened we try to figure out who, what, when, where, and why.  Those things remain out of service until all the family that needs notified is notified in a professional manner and we make sure that support is in place for the grieving.  We still have family members who do horrible things to themselves in their grief but this prevents a lot of that happening and it is the right thing to do.  Placing guards around soldiers who were wounded with the deceased is not normal and burning uniforms is not normal.  Phones and internet that remain turned off after family has been notified is also not normal.