Tillman. Lynch. Americans Weary of Lies and War

How they lied when Pat Tillman Died. YouTube.

The wars leave us all wary.  Soldiers in Afghanistan tire.  Troops in Iraq are exhausted.  The people in the states are fatigued.  Families and friends are drained.  America wants its soldiers to come home, alive.  Citizens cry when chatting with their Representatives.  They shriek when telephoning their Senators.  They write to the President.  Our countrymen spoke with their vote. yet, the combat continues.  The United States stays the course.  It is not the long days and longer nights of worry that weigh on the expectant public; it is the lies. 

Listening to Kevin Tillman speak of his brother Pat, while testifying in front of the House Oversight Committee, I was reminded of the dishonesty.

Earlier today, in dramatic testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Kevin Tillman accused the Bush administration of twisting the facts of his brother’s death to distract public attention from the prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib.

The U.S. Army fabricated a story of his brother’s heroism in action, knowing he was killed by friendly fire, Tillman said.  Authorities constructed not only a story of combat action — accompanied by a silver medal – but lied about his medical care, saying he was transferred to a field hospital for continued medical care for 90 minutes after the incident, when the back of his head was blown off.

“These are deliberate and calculated lies” and “a deliberate act of deceit,” Tillman said.

His voice shaking, Tillman said the official account of his brother’s death in 2004 was “utter fiction ? intended to deceive the family and more importantly the American people.”

He said the incident that led to his brother’s death was “clearly fratricide” and described the account of a soldier standing next to his brother who reported the slain soldier’s last words, “I am friendly, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman.”

As Jessica Lynch shared her story and her confusion, my anguish increased.  Today, April 25, 2007, when the last soldier to see Army Ranger Pat Tillman alive, Army Specialist (SPC) Bryan O’Neal spoke of his orders not to divulge the truth of his comrades death, I wept.

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.”

I have been doing a lot of crying lately.  As the causalities mount, so too do the stories.  Sadly, the legends told by our leaders President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and the Department of Defense are rarely factual.  Fiction is thought to be more favorable by this Administration.  It seems our leaders feel we “can’t take the truth.”  Therefore, they do not tell it.

Vice President Richard Cheney, equipped with his five deferments was able to avoid military service; yet, repeatedly he states, the “United States does not have the stomach for the fight.”

Mister Cheney is correct.  He, an American never had the guts to fight.  His compatriot, George W. Bush also gracefully avoided battle.  As young men, these two combative, hawkish chaps chose not to fight on foreign soil, or anywhere else for that matter.  Yet, today, they hypocritically claim American men and women are not willing to go to battle.  Oh, Dick, whom are the people fighting and dying for this country?  Certainly, you and your nearest kin are not on the front-lines.  I do not see the Commander-In-Chief dodging bullets now; nor was he as a lad.

After years of what seems an endless, “protracted” war, most Americans feel as Mister Cheney did and apparently still does.  They do not wish to go to fight and chance death.  The Armed Forces are struggling. Recruitment is down.  Soldiers declining to re-enlist.  There are not enough recruits to maintain a volunteer service; yet, no one is willing to reinstate the draft. 

As early as July 2003, there was talk of troop confidence; there was little.  Frustrated soldiers wrote to Congressional Representatives “requesting their units be repatriated.”  Morale was low, although according to the Administration, troop spirits were high.  After arriving home from a hastily scheduled trip to Iraq in November of the same year the President told the nation in his Saturday radio address.

I’m pleased to report back from the front lines that our troops are strong, morale is high and our military is confident we will prevail.

Lies, more lies, and perpetual deception.

Years later the problem persists.  Troops want to come home.  Families long to see their soldiers alive and comfortably seated in their own living rooms.  Yet, we were told, leaves will be shorter, rotations sooner.; However, the fact is this nation cannot finance such a decision, or is that the fiction.  One never knows.  I truly am perplexed.  Nevertheless, the new strategy is . . .

Stretched military to get more leave instead of bonus pay
By Pauline Jelinek
Associate Press.  Baltimore Sun.
April 18, 2007

Troops will get extra days off — rather than “buckets full of gold” — for being sent to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more frequently, the Pentagon says.

After months of debate on the new plan, Defense Department leaders decided that time off was more in keeping with “the ethos” of military service to country than money — and that rest is more directly connected to the fact that troops are being stressed by repeated deployments, said Michael L. Dominguez, undersecretary for personnel and readiness.

“We weren’t trying to find some metaphysical balance between the service you are rendering and buckets full of gold — or any other thing we could do for you,” Dominguez said Wednesday.

“This wasn’t about that balance. This was about telling men and women of the armed forces that we know when we ask you to do something extraordinary, we’re conscious of it, we’re aware of it.”

In a sometimes-contentious Pentagon news conference, Dominguez declined to say whether officials had studied whether troops themselves might prefer money, saying it was a leadership decision.

In what Dominguez acknowledged was a complicated formula to explain, the policy starts with giving one day off for every month troops are recalled early and increases as various thresholds are reached.

Fear of funding problems was not an issue, he said.

“The Congress of the United States has been superb and excellent in terms of if we needed something for the troops, they’ve given it to us,” he said.

Yes, when soldiers were needed they were provided.  The troops came from unexpected places.  Weeks ago, while standing with James on a local street corner, we conversed as we held up our “Make love not war” signs.  Cars passed us, tooting their horns in favor of “Exit Iraq” policies.  People leaned out their windows restating the words on our banners, “Bring the troops home now.”  “Cut the funds.”  “Grandfather and Veteran for Peace.” 

As the vehicles raced by, James shared his story I winced as he recounted the details.  His older brother is thirty-nine [39] years of age.  He enlisted in the National Guard years earlier.  Financially the then young man needed financial assistance for college and saw the Guard as a means to an end.  A short time ago, James brother was assisting with the Katrina cleanup.  He was proud to help. 

The older sibling was serving his country as expected, on American soil.  Suddenly, he was sent home early.  He was told he would be leaving for Iraq.  The shorter stint in New Orleans would allow for some time at home before he departs.  James’s elder brother has a wife, three children, and is physically not, what he was.  There was a time when the National Guard did not fight overseas.  George W. Bush might remember it well.

At Height of Vietnam, Bush Picks Guard
By George Lardner Jr. and Lois Romano?
Washington Post.
Wednesday, July 28, 1999; Page A1

Two weeks before he was to graduate from Yale, George Walker Bush stepped into the offices of the Texas Air National Guard at Ellington Field outside Houston and announced that he wanted to sign up for pilot training.

It was May 27, 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War. Bush was 12 days away from losing his student deferment from the draft at a time when Americans were dying in combat at the rate of 350 a week. The unit Bush wanted to join offered him the chance to fulfill his military commitment at a base in Texas. It was seen as an escape route from Vietnam by many men his age, and usually had a long waiting list.

Bush had scored only 25 percent on a “pilot aptitude” test, the lowest acceptable grade. But his father was then a congressman from Houston, and the commanders of the Texas Guard clearly had an appreciation of politics.

Bush was sworn in as an airman the same day he applied.

However, those were the days when George W. was eligible to fight.  Now he orders others to tend to the frontline.  In 2000, George W. Bush entered the service as the supreme officer; duplicity continues as we spread democracy. 

Oh, the deceit, deception, dishonesty, and finally the disillusionment.  When will it ever end; when will the war.  It is not worth asking this White House.  Obviously, we cannot trust the answers.

Looking at Lies, Lives, Legends . . .

  • Soldier said he was told to keep quiet on details of Tillman’s death, By Johanna Neuman. Los Angles Times Staff Writer. April 24, 2007
  • pdf Soldier said he was told to keep quiet on details of Tillman’s death, By Johanna Neuman. Los Angles Times Staff Writer. April 24, 2007
  • Soldier: Army ordered me not to tell truth about Tillman.  Cable News Network. April 25, 2007
  • Katrina poses key test for stretched National Guard, By Mark Sappenfield. The Christian Science Monitor. September 2, 2005
  • Transcript: Vice President Cheney on ‘FOX News Sunday.’ Sunday, January 14, 2007
  • Study: Army stretched to breaking point.  USA Today. January 24, 2006
  • U.S. Army Challenged to Meet Recruitment Goals. By Madeleine Brand.  Day to Day. June 10, 2005
  • War may have some Fort Carson troops leaving the ranks. By Dick Foster, Rocky Mountain News.
  • pdf War may have some Fort Carson troops leaving the ranks. By Dick Foster, Rocky Mountain News.
  • Cheney’s Five Draft Deferments During the Vietnam Era Emerge as a Campaign Issue, By Katharine Q. Seelye. New York Times. May 1, 2004
  • Troop morale in Iraq hits ‘rock bottom,’ By Ann Scott Tyson.  Special to The Christian Science Monitor.  July 7, 2003
  • pdf Troop morale in Iraq hits ‘rock bottom,’ By Ann Scott Tyson.  Special to The Christian Science Monitor.  July 7, 2003