As the pomp and circumstance surrounding the September 11th commemoration finally winds down, one question haunts me. Why is Pat Tillman dead? One of my favorite TV shows, HBO's "Inside the NFL", had a special segment on how one of Tillman's best friends, Denver Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, is dealing with the tragedy of Tillman's death. (Yes, I watch football highlight shows. So sue me.) Like just about everyone involved, Plummer is wondering aloud about some pretty basic issues like honesty and truth. From where I sit, the wondering should just about be over.
What Is Obvious to Everyone
A few things are pretty obvious to almost anyone with even a passing interest in sports and world affairs for instance:
- Pat Tillman was a professional football player. He attended college in Arizona and played professionally there as well. As I understand it, he had a penchant for sincerity, was renowned for his leadership and zest for life, and had a quality that seemed to attract all to him.
- Tillman volunteered to join the Army and go to Afghanistan. During his deployment he was killed by "friendly fire" during an encounter with the "enemy" although the details remain sketchy.
- Following the tragedy, the U.S. Army lied about Tillman's death, going so far as to officially report that Tillman died leading a heroic up-hill charge against the enemy. He even received the Silver Star posthumously!
Subsequent to that first lie, the truth, or some reasonable facsimile thereof – in several different versions – has come out. In fact, to date there have been something like four (4) official investigations or statements into what happened that day in Afghanistan and how Tillman actually died. As this article goes to print, the Army is supposedly conducting a fifth investigation. The family is demanding that they finally be told the truth, as they should. And apparently, the Army vows to finally tell the truth, this time anyway.
What Is (Apparently) Not Obvious to Everyone
A few things seem pretty obvious to those of us who see the Army for what it is – the "strong-arm" component of a government seemingly bent on world domination at almost any cost. At the risk of appearing either insensitive or unpatriotic or both, I feel compelled to toss out a few of those apparently not-so-obvious items, including:
- Pat Tillman's death was not the first significant event about which the U.S. Army has lied, nor will it be the last. Given that we are still looking for WMDs in a country apparently with none, lying is about par for the course!
- Tillman was not the first U.S. soldier to be killed by "friendly fire" nor will he be the last. Heck, the possibility exists that he was not the first such victim even in Afghanistan!
- It takes an exceptional brand and quantity of moxie to send someone to a funeral to lie about an event such as this, not to mention the kind of person it would take to actually carry out such an order if he actually knew the facts.
Let's be honest here, no matter how much it hurts. Even the staunchest "Ditto Head" (a disciple of Rush Limbaugh) or "Dodo Head" (a disciple of Bill O'Reilly – okay, I made that one up) would have to admit that lying for effect is part and parcel of the game of propaganda. And propaganda is one of the most effective weapons in the arsenal of any effective army. In other words, if the U.S. Army is truly the best in the world, then its leaders have to be effective liars, even when those lies are being told to the very ones who foot the bills.
Effective strategy aside, after such a display of bold-faced lying, it would take quite a bit of child-like navet to believe any "official statements" that may come out in the future. I suspect those who grieve most for Pat Tillman are already aware of this; certainly they have my sincere sympathy for their loss. To any others who think the next investigation will yield "real" answers let me make this offer: I am in possession of a fantastic piece of real estate containing a bridge, a railroad, and airstrip, and inhabited by a herd of unicorns. I am offering it for a fantastic price, but only to those who show up wearing a Yankee Doodle hat and driving a car – preferably American made – with an "I Support the Troops" magnetic ribbon proudly displayed. This property will not last long!
So why is Pat Tillman dead? He is dead because he so believed in his country and what he thought its flag stood for that he left a comfortable life in the National Football League to volunteer to join the U.S. Army as a Ranger and go to Afghanistan ostensibly in pursuit of Osama bin Laden. I sincerely believe he thought he was going to "fight for freedom", although what he and his comrades are actually fighting for is debatable. What is most assuredly not debatable is this. Subsequent to his death – via the bullets of his own countrymen – the government he represented chose to reward his "gift" by lying to his family (and everyone else) repeatedly about how he died. If they would lie about an event such as this – where a key issue in play is the feelings of those who loved Pat Tillman, versus any item of legitimate national security interest – what else would they lie about?
And exactly how much longer are we going to give these people a free pass to treat us as they please?
September 20, 2006