Aug 11, 2007
The "Fragging Story" Deke
In the second part of Stan Goff's three-part series on the death of Pat Tillman, he refutes the July 27, 2007 Associated Press report that alleged that Tillman may have been intentionally murdered, and hints that the new "fragging" narrative was concocted to divert attention from the August 1 congressional hearing into the actual controversy -- the conveniently misreported details of the fratricide incident:
Let me say for the record, again, that I do not believe that Pat Tillman was targeted for assassination.
A second lieutenant and an infantry sergeant are not tasked with anything as politically sensitive as assassination. I am speaking as an alumnus of Delta Force, one of the few organizations that actually might be entrusted with this kind of operation (and then only very rarely). It doesn’t matter what you see in the movies.
The decisions that placed Pat Tillman at exactly the place and exactly the time of his death were made ad hoc, on the spot, at a series of junctures that could not have been controlled, including a vehicle that unexpectedly broke down, one key decision made by an Afghan jinga truck driver and Pat’s own decision (following two on-the-spot decisions by members of his platoon in direct response to a completely unexpected situation) to move forward into the position where he was shot.
The mystique of Special Operations (including the Rangers, who are the Special Operations’ shock infantry component) is useful as a deterrent, but it is not reflective of a reality. The Pentagon and others want you and the rest of the world to believe this mystique, because your fear and the fear of the rest of the world is what maintains the efficacy of a huge bluff. This government wants us to spin out as many scary fantasies as possible, because it serves the dual purpose of either portraying opponents of the military as “conspiracy nuts” or promoting precisely the myth of spooky invincibility that keeps us in line.
I came straight from the bowels of this system, and I have written three books exposing the worst aspects of the military. If they haven’t yet cut my brake lines or shot me when I’m out fishing, then they didn’t kill Pat Tillman because he criticized the war in Iraq and read a book by Noam Chomsky...
There is nothing the Pentagon would rather do with this case, aside from making it evaporate, than turn it into a debate about whether Pat was assassinated or not. He wasn’t, and so they can not only poke fun at any of us who propose that hypothesis, they can relax as we all bark up the wrong tree.
What they do not want is a rigorous examination of the motives, decisions, and events that might lead a larger public to see how they have been spinning prevarications to call an imperial Oil War democracy-building. ...
And now, at last, I will briefly describe the cover-up.
Pat Tillman was the most well-known enlisted man in the entire military. When he enlisted, Pat received a personal letter from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld thanking Pat for his enlistment. So Pat was on Rumsfeld's radar immediately. The fog of fame began then as the spin on Pat's enlistment was that he took a break from a lucrative football career because of 9-11. That's not how it was. Pat saw young men being marched off to war; and he didn't want to use his talent as an exemption. It's different.
The day Pat was killed outside Manah, officialdom developed a multiple personality disorder. On the one hand, there was bureaucrat's panic, because it was known almost at once that this was a case of "fratricide." On the other hand, the scriptwriters smelled a story with Pat's corpse propped up like a Greek statue that would draw all eyes away from the debacle of Fallujah-Najaf and the wanton racist cruelty of Abu Ghraib. So there was the bureaucrat's instinct to hide the facts in a period of waning legitimation; and there was the flack's instinct to tell a lie. Hiding a thing and lying about it are two different things, and they can be contradictory. That's how both the hiding and the lying began to unravel.
At the highest levels, there was a decision to be made about how far one could get away with the lie in the short term, and hide their own complicity in case the lie was exposed in the long term.
On April 29, Major General Stanley McChrystal -- commander of the task force that the Rangers served in Afghanistan, and head of the most secretive joint-service force in the US military -- sent a memo to John Abizaid, telling him to warn everyone all the way to Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush, an investigation "will find that it is highly possible Cpl. Tillman was killed by friendly fire... I felt that it was essential that you received this information as soon as we detected it in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country's leaders which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Cpl. Tillman's death become public."
No reference to telling the truth... "which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Cpl. Tillman's death become public."
According to an unnamed source, Abizaid misled Congress on August 1, 2007, when he stated that this memo -- from the General in theater who directed the most politically-sensitive and secret operations in the military, which include units like Delta Force (now operating under a new name) -- did not "reach him" for "10 to 20 days."
This memo, it must be assumed, was a living organism that had to exercise its own initiative to "reach" its intended recipient.
Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire --instead of the enemy fire described in a fraudulent Silver Star citation drafted by officers who knew how Pat was killed -- was explosive news. Yet on August 1, 2007, Rumsfeld, his former-Joint Chiefs Chair Myers, and the ex-CENTCOM Commander John Abizaid -- not one of them -- could remember when, where, or how they learned of this explosive news.
We’re talking about a man at the top whose middle name was "Micromanager".