Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Jessica Lynch and Kevin Tillman Expose Pentagon Lies

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Jessica Lynch and Kevin Tillman co-testified today at a congressional committee hearing about the false, self-serving narratives created by the Pentagon that, respectively, turned Lynch into a hero after she was injured in Iraq in 2003; and covered up the truth about the friendly fire killing of Kevin's brother, Pat Tillman, in Afghanistan, in 2004:

He was the American football star who gave up fame and fortune to serve his country only to meet a hero's death fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. She was the plucky little girl-Rambo who fought to her last bullet before she was badly injured and captured in Iraq.

Those, at least, were the stories put out by the US military about Cpl Pat Tillman and Pte Jessica Lynch, the two most famous casualties from the front lines. Both turned out to be in large part false, and both came back to bite the Pentagon yesterday in the full glare of a congressional committee room.

In a remarkable double act, Kevin Tillman, fellow soldier and younger brother of Pat, testified alongside Miss Lynch in a shared determination to show that truth is only a temporary casualty of war.

Their testimonies provided a strong indictment of the conduct of the military under former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Henry Waxman, the oversight committee's chairman, said the hearing, which was supported by both Democrats and Republicans, aimed to ensure that military cover-ups and misleading accounts "don't happen again".

Miss Lynch, who was injured near Nasiriyah in the 2003 invasion, said: "I am still confused why they chose to lie and make me a legend."

At the time army spokesmen briefed that Miss Lynch, a driver in an ambushed convoy, fought heroically until she was taken by Iraqi forces and then rescued from hospital by US troops.

In fact she did not fire a shot and was wounded by the crash caused by a grenade attack on her vehicle. Her removal from hospital was co-ordinated with the Iraqis.

Thanks in part to media spin, she became a national heroine only to disappoint the nation by telling the truth.

"The American people are capable of determining their own ideals of heroes and they don't need to be told elaborate tales," Miss Lynch said yesterday, adding that the real heroes were those still fighting in Iraq.

Mr Tillman, a specialist, said the army had hijacked his brother's "virtue and legacy" by putting out a story that he had been fighting the enemy, when it was clear to all those present that he had been killed by friendly fire.

Also today, CNN has a piece up about the last American soldier to see Pat Tillman alive: he was ordered by his superior officer not to tell anyone how Pat died:

The last soldier to see Army Ranger Pat Tillman alive, Spc. Bryan O'Neal, told lawmakers that he was warned by superiors not to divulge -- especially to the Tillman family -- that a fellow soldier killed Tillman.

O'Neal particularly wanted to tell fellow soldier Kevin Tillman, who was in the convoy traveling behind his brother at the time of the 2004 incident in Afghanistan.

"I wanted right off the bat to let the family know what had happened, especially Kevin, because I worked with him in a platoon and I knew that he and the family all needed to know what had happened," O'Neal testified. "I was quite appalled that when I was actually able to speak with Kevin, I was ordered not to tell him."

Asked who gave him the order, O'Neal replied that it came from his battalion commander, then-Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey.

"He basically just said ... 'Do not let Kevin know, that he's probably in a bad place knowing his brother's dead,' " O'Neal told House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman. "And he made it known I would get in trouble, sir, if I spoke with Kevin on it being fratricide."

The military instead released a "manufactured narrative" detailing how Pat Tillman died leading a courageous counterattack in an Afghan mountain pass, Kevin Tillman told the committee.

1 comment:

DCBundtit said...

I'm pleased to see both Lynch and Tillman coming forward... check out part of Tillman's testimony: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/236188/US