It has been a long time now since anyone believed what the Bush Administration had to say about the death of Patrick Tillman, former player for the National Football League and corporal in the United States Army. When Pat Tillman died, the Pentagon released stories about how he was killed by terrorist evildoers, bravely defending his comrades in arms.
The trouble was that the Pentagon story was a lie. Pat Tillman was killed by what the military calls “friendly fire”. That means that Tillman was killed by American soldiers accidentally firing their weapons at other American soldiers.
That death didn’t make for good propaganda, of course. The Bush Administration seems to have decided that a soldier as famous as Pat Tillman needed to have an honorable death, for the sake of keeping up support for the war. So, they made up a fake story, and covered up what really happened on the battlefield.
In the end, the Pat Tillman fiction was bad for the war effort, because it exposed the way that the American military often lies to Americans about the way it wages war. As a result of the lies about Pat Tillman, Americans have become more doubtful that what the military tells the public is true.
If the Bush Administration had any sense, it would try to limit the damage by coming clean and telling the complete truth about the Pat Tillman affair. Sadly, the Bush Administration doesn’t seem to have any sense. Years after the death of Pat Tillman, the Bush White House is still trying to cover up what really happened.
This summer, when the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the House of Representatives requested documents from the White House related to the death of Pat Tillman, the Bush White House refused to comply. The White House said that it would continue to keep almost all of documents secret from Congress and the American public, not because of national security needs, but because George W. Bush contends that he has the right to keep such secrets if he wants to.
It is impossible to say what exactly information about the death of Pat Tillman the White House is keeping secret. This much is certain, however: Even after it has been caught in a coverup that distorted the legacy of a man who was considered to be an American hero, George W. Bush and his Republican aides have not learned the lesson that it’s best to tell the American people the truth.
In the short term, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will be holding a hearing on August 1, 2007, exploring the continuing Bush White House coverup of the truth about Pat Tillman’s death. In the long term, we need a new, progressive President who will not use the power of government to perpetuate lies about American soldiers, or keep the American people from knowing the truth about what the military is doing in their names.
(Source: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, July 13, 2007)