The case of Pat Tillman: murder and government cover-up

In May 2002, the ruling class found a poster boy to promote their imperialist aims.

Pat Tillman, a professional football star, made a very public decision to walk away from a multi-million-dollar NFL contract and join the elite Army Rangers after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Pat Tillman. Photo: DoD

The bourgeois press rallied around Tillman; he represented the military as an affluent, white college graduate, who was prepared to sacrifice the “American Dream” to preserve “freedom” for the United States.

Tillman was marketable. He stood out in an army of working-class soldiers.

The “all-volunteer army” relies on recruiting teenagers from low-income backgrounds, assuring them that the only way they can be successful in life is by joining the U.S. military.

Tillman’s enlistment helped to alter the public face of the military. No doubt, his example stimulated recruitment and was used to boost support for the U.S. war drive.

The warmakers’ American hero, however, quickly became critical of the “war on terror,” specifically the invasion of Iraq. Tillman and his brother Kevin had participated in the 2003 invasion.

Tillman referred to the war in Afghanistan as “fake,” and the war in Iraq as “so f***ing illegal.”

He began writing letters, e-mails and diary entries condemning the actions of the government. Almost overnight, Tillman went from being a star recruitment tool for the ruling class to a potentially vocal war critic.

Radical writer Noam Chomsky has confirmed that Tillman contacted him. They had arranged to meet when Tillman returned from Afghanistan. Tillman wanted to discuss the best way to go public against the war.

Instead of returning home and joining the anti-war movement, Tillman was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004.

The U.S. government immediately converted his death into a propaganda media spectacle.

Tillman was posthumously promoted by the military brass. He was awarded the prestigious Silver Star for courage under fire.

It was soon exposed that the nature of his death was fabricated; it was not the heroic tale embellished by the media.

The Army has admitted that his death was a result of “friendly fire.” Since then, Tillman’s family has been in constant struggle not only to learn the truth about his death, but also to expose and punish those involved in the cover-up.

The Tillman family’s pursuit of justice was publicly mocked by Tillman’s commander, Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich. He said Tillman’s family was unwilling to accept the military’s version of the story because they are “atheists” and their son is now “worm dirt.”

Recent developments in the case point to a much higher level of corruption, far exceeding a manipulated version of the story for political gain.

Was Tillman murdered?

Medical examiners are extremely suspicious of the accidental nature of Tillman’s death. Evidence of a murder is quickly piling up.

The medical examiners’ suspicions were outlined in 2,300 pages of testimony recently released to the Associated Press by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Tillman was shot in the chest, legs, and hand, and was yelling that he was a “friendly.” After that, he still received three gunshots to the forehead from a distance no greater than 10 yards away. Like his other wounds, these were inflicted by a fellow U.S. soldier.

Following Tillman’s death, his body armor and uniform were burned by his unit. This behavior is not protocol.

The investigation also discovered that there were no hostile forces in the area and the only shots being fired were by the Rangers.

A tragic example of the military’s secrecy is that the diary he kept while in Afghanistan is being held by the Pentagon. Despite their pleas, the Pentagon will not release it to the Tillman family.

Medical examiners initially tried to open a murder investigation, but it was quickly shut down by Army officers, who later sent each other congratulatory e-mails for crushing the investigation.

The Tillman family’s dedicated struggle to expose the cover-up led the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold an Aug. 1 hearing entitled, “The Tillman Fratricide: What the Leadership of the Defense Department Knew.”

During the hearing, former U.S. secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld—who wrote a personal letter congratulating Tillman upon his enlistment in 2002—was grilled about covering up facts to deceive the American people. Various examples were cited, including the phony Jessica Lynch story and the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Despite the hearing’s relatively narrow scope, many, including Tillman’s mother, continue to raise questions about the motivation behind Tillman’s death. Mounting evidence points to a murder rather than a simple accident.

Whether or not murder will ever be proven decisively, it cannot be denied that this is yet another example of ruling-class deception and corruption.

Tillman could have become an inspiring anti-war leader in the United States.

Once the embodiment of patriotism, he developed into a fervent opponent after witnessing the illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. He was willing to risk disciplinary action and media slander to bring the truth home with him. Tragically, he did not make it back.

People in the United States, especially Tillman’s family, deserve to know how and why this happened.

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