Monday, December 06, 2004


Aaron Brown:

BROWN: There is an important and explicit bargain between the press and the Pentagon in a time of war. We don't do anything to endanger the troops or operations. They don't lie to us.

Each is essential in a free society and each is made more complicated by the information age but it seems that sometimes in an effort to mislead the enemy the military has come close, very close, to crossing the line and misleading you, so again, from the Pentagon, CNN's Barbara Starr.

Donald Rumsfeld:

But the idea that government needs, for whatever reason, to actually actively tell something that's not true to the American people or the press, I just haven't.


It was also a distorted and incomplete narrative, according to dozens of internal Army documents obtained by The Washington Post that describe Tillman's death by fratricide after a chain of botched communications, a misguided order to divide his platoon over the objection of its leader and undisciplined firing by fellow Rangers.

The Army's public release made no mention of friendly fire, even though at the time it was issued, investigators in Afghanistan had already taken at least 14 sworn statements from Tillman's platoon members that made clear the true causes of his death. The statements included a searing account from the Ranger nearest Tillman during the firefight, who quoted him as shouting "Cease fire! Friendlies!" with his last breaths....

But the Army's published account not only withheld all evidence of fratricide, but also exaggerated Tillman's role and stripped his actions of their context. Tillman was not one of the senior commanders on the scene -- he directed only himself, one other Ranger and an Afghan militiaman, under supervision from others. And witness statements in the Army's files at the time of the news release describe Tillman's voice ringing out on the battlefield mainly in a desperate effort, joined by other Rangers on his ridge, to warn comrades to stop shooting at their own men.

The Army's April 30 news release was just one episode in a broader Army effort to manage the uncomfortable facts of Pat Tillman's death, according to internal records and interviews.