President Barack Obama’s new choice to lead US operations in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, suspected that former football star Pat Tillman had been killed by friendly fire but approved a Silver Star regardless.
According to military testimony acquired by the Associated Press in 2007, McChrystal went so far as to warn top US generals that Tillman’s death was suspicious. In the memo, he implored “our nation’s leaders,” specifically “POTUS” — the President of the United States — “to avoid using the award citation’s language of “devastating enemy fire” in their speeches.”
McChrystal himself had signed off on the award.
Ultimately, the Pentagon’s acting inspector general said McChrystal should be held “accountable for the inaccurate and misleading assertions” in his Silver Star award recommendation and for failing to notify officials of his suspicions.
But Army general William Wallace concluded that McChrystal had behaved “reasonably” and no action was taken.
Tillman turned down a 3-year, $3.6 million contract to join the Army Rangers in 2002, following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Pentagon officials first said he’d died as a result of enemy fire; subsequent investigations revealed a broad cover-up by military officials in an effort to mischaracterize the circumstances of Tillman’s death.
McChrystal, who suspected fratricide in the days after Tillman’s death, “never directly explained” why he believed Tillman’s death was suspicious, according to investigators. He said “that he believed Tillman deserved the award and that he wanted to warn top U.S. military and political leadership that friendly fire was a possibility.”
Documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request in 2007 provided more details on why McChrystal might have believed Tillman’s death was a fratricide. But the documents have not made clear how much McChrystal knew or why he was suspicious.
“Because I thought it was friendly fire, I thought it was important that key attendees know that that theory could become the finding of the investigation, and if they were going to make a statement about ‘killed by enemy fire,’ it might not be certain,” McChrystal said.
The documents showed “that a doctor who autopsied Tillman’s body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead,” AP wrote. “The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army’s Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.”
In addition, they found that “Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.”
They also revealed that no evidence “at all” of enemy fire was found at the scene.
Prior to his appointment Monday as a replacement for the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, McChrystal had served as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command and chief of staff of military operations.
McChrystal’s activities as head of Special Operations are shrouded in secrecy. The unit as a whole is so clandestine that the Pentagon won’t disclose the number of troops involved, the names of commanders, its bases or specific missions. Even the name of the task force changes on a regular basis to confuse the enemy; those involved in its operations aren’t identified even in courts-martial proceedings.
But a New York Times article published in 2006 about Task Force 6-26 — part of Special Operations — cast unflattering light on the unit. 6-26, which operated a base at Baghdad International Airport, just a few miles from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, was criticized for going beyond the realm of acceptable interrogation and detainment practices.
“Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, ‘NO BLOOD, NO FOUL,’” the Times‘ Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall wrote. “The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: ‘If you don’t make them bleed, they can’t prosecute for it.’ According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. ‘The reality is, there were no rules there,’ another Pentagon official said.”
“The story of detainee abuse in Iraq is a familiar one,” they added. “But the following account of Task Force 6-26, based on documents and interviews with more than a dozen people, offers the first detailed description of how the military’s most highly trained counterterrorism unit committed serious abuses.”http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/05/12/new-afghan-commander-fingered-in-tillman-coverup/