Wednesday, 25 Apr, 2007 Offbeat

US Military Accused of Manipulating Soldier's Death


The brother of a former football star Pat Tillman has accused the US army of exploiting Pat's death. Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. Being a professional football player, Cpl Tillman had turned down a multi-million dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to fight for his country. His death was greatly publicized in the US.

Pat's family was told he had died as a hero fighting the enemy. But Kevin Tillman has strong reasons to believe the truth about his brother's death was deliberately concealed from their family. He testified to a congressional panel that investigated whether Pat Tillman's relatives and American people in general were misinformed on purpose.

Kevin claimed the US military had taken the decision to cover up the recklessness of some of Pat's fellow soldiers. Kevin Tillman was in a convoy following his brother when he was killed, but he did not see it. Pat Tillman's equipment, including his uniform, had been destroyed before a proper investigation could be conducted. Then his death was presented as a heroic act. Kevin said the narrative was then delivered to the American public at a time when wars lead by the US overseas were not supported by American people.

A month ago a Pentagon watchdog confirmed that the Tillman's family had been misinformed about his death for over a month, although commanders were aware that the soldier had most probably died in friendly fire. But at that time no evidence of deliberate cover-up was found.

Bryan O'Neal, a US army ranger who accompanied Pat Tillman when he was shot confessed to the panel that he received an order not to tell Kevin Tillman that Pat was killed by friendly fire. He added the order was given by the Jeff Bailey, then-Lieutenant Colonel. Moreover, the ranger was made clear that he would have troubles if he did not follow the order.

At present time the US army is going to review deaths of a few hundred soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The army received complaints from the soldiers' families who believe they have not been delivered accurate information.

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