Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2006
To the Editor:
Events over the past few years make you wonder about our moral compass and the direction we are headed. Certainly, problems of graft, corruption and outright lying by everyone from corporate executives to ultra disciplined military personnel leaves serious concerns for our future.
The revelation last week of yet another investigation into the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman is beyond disturbing. How many has there been already and still probing for the truth? Now, they are talking of possible negligent homicide as the cause of death. Negligent homicide is a strong accusation against soldiers involved in fire fights. Unquestionably, benefit of the doubt must be afforded any young soldier faced with a possible life or death split second decision. One can only hope the intent and purpose of this probe is not to find a sacrificial lamb to clean up the mess already created.
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It is hard to imagine such a wonderful patriotic public relations story such as Pat Tillman giving up professional football to serve our country evolving into a public relations nightmare for the Army. Friendly fire happens, everyone who has been in service realizes the inherent dangers of close combat. Why on earth would Army officers in the beginning attempt a misguided cover-up of the tragic circumstances? It has just caused more pain and suffering of Tillman’s grieving family and caused them to distrust anything else said by the Army. In addition to that, it gives critics of the military ammunition to pummel efforts at recruiting and retention in addition to questioning the integrity of those serving. In short, it was just plain stupid.
Apparently, officers destroyed critical evidence and concealed the truth even from Tillman’s brother, also an Army Ranger, when questioned shortly after the mishap.
This will be the fifth official investigation into the case. It is being conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division and being billed as a criminal investigation. According to reports, it is not to determine the accuracy or thoroughness of prior investigations.
The CID investigation will be looking for the smoking gun whose round or rounds ended the life of Army Ranger and American patriot, Pat Tillman.
Makes you wonder if all has been forgiven for the initial cover-up and subsequent lies to the family and the world. It could be shades of Abu Ghraib all over again where only low ranking enlisted personnel will be punished.
This behavior just has to stop. Families of military personnel deserve better of the Army. We all deserve better of the Army. The Code of Military Justice must be enforced to the letter and all who were involved with falsifying official documents or lying must be punished. It is time to re-set the moral compass on truth and honesty.
After this article was written, DOD announced an investigation into the accusations of a cover-up by the Army. Thank God, bring it on, and this time get it right. Hopefully, it will give the Tillman’s closure on this sad sad chapter in the War on Terrorism.
James G. Smith
Public Relations Officer
The American Legion Post 20