24 April 2007

Tillman and Lynch

I'm watching the C-SPAN Video of the House Hearing on Accuracy of Battlefield Information. It's more than 4 hours long. I've been interested to hear what Jessica Lynch and the Tillmans have to say.

For reference, read the March 2007 press briefing, Inspector General report (pdf) and ESPN's four part series on CPL Pat Tillman's death. Also read the July 2003 Army report and Rich Lowry's recent column on the 507th Maintenance Company, the capture and rescue of Jessica Lynch.

I just finished listening to Rep. Waxman's, Rep. Davis' and Kevin Tillman's opening statements. I agree with Rep. Davis' comments. Kevin Tillman's opening statement was very powerful. You can watch a C-SPAN video clip of just Tillman's opening statement via YouTube:

The opening statements by Jessica Lynch and Dr. Gene Bolles were interesting, but nothing close to Kevin Tillman's statement.

Rep. Murphy (D-CT) has a good sound bite, "Truth over personal glorification." I agree with commending the Tillmans and Lynch for seeking and honoring the truth of what happened in their circumstances.

Mary Tillman's statement after Rep. Murphy's time expired (about an hour in) is very informative about the "story changing" from their perspective. The "quest for the truth" began after reading the official investigation report on the airplane going home from an "official" briefing at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Rep. Davis (R-VA) starts off the second hour. Mary Tillman states that the CID concluded the rules of engagement (ROE) were not broken [she disagrees]. BG Johnson stated in the press briefing linked above:

During the course of our investigation, we examined the rules of engagement, or ROE, governing operations in Afghanistan and found no violations of the ROE. We also looked at applicable training manuals and standard operating procedures, or SOPs, and again found no violations.

Therefore, given the evidence at hand, our findings are as shown on this slide. We determined that neither a negligent homicide or aggravated assault occurred in the shooting deaths and woundings of Corporal Tillman and the others. The manner of death was accidental, and we used a probable cause standard of determination.
OK, I was interested in this hearing because of the Army's handling of information pertaining to Tillman's death. Still am. I'm also interested to hear more from the Tillmans about their concerns about violations of the ROE.

However, after an hour, I'm even more convinced that including Lynch is political theater for partisan purposes.

At 1 hour and 11 minutes, Rep. Waxman points out that this investigation was suggested by Rep. Davis when he was still Chairman of the committee and "not a partisan issue in any way, shape or form."

Rep. Issa (R-CA), "Who are they?" Did the soldiers who killed Pat Tillman do something willfully wrong? Kevin Tillman says it "looks like" gross negligence to criminal negligence on the part of the soldiers during the firefight because "they" were "out of control." The other layer of "they" is a 3-star general and the entire chain of command. Jessica Lynch says "they" should have gotten the facts right before spreading a story, but she has no evidence of a conspiracy. Kevin Tillman does think there is enough evidence in emails and a "P4" message of a conspiracy to manufacture a story about Pat Tillman's death.

Rep. Mica (R-FL) references an AJR article, Jessica Lynch’s Story: A Little Too Perfect?
Loeb dismisses accusations that the military used his paper as an organ for propaganda. "I don't think we were spun at all," he says. "I don't think the Pentagon ever set out to make Jessica Lynch a poster child for battlefield heroism."

The Post based its story on battlefield intelligence reports that Loeb says are "almost always wrong in some respect" and need to be handled with extreme caution--possibly more caution, he acknowledges, than he actually used.
Rep. Yarmuth (D-KY) asks Dr. Bolles why he didn't correct the press reports that Jessica Lynch had been shot. Dr. Bolles offers ethical responsibilities to the patient but he was under no constraints. The day before Lynch left the hospital, Dr. Bolles was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement - which he did sign. He doesn't have an opinion whether or not that was unusual.

I don't know, either. Is it?

Rep. Shays (R-CT) asks why the Tillmans aren't happy with the IG investigation. Kevin Tillman highlights page 53 of the report where witness statements are fabricated and Mary Tillman states that the IG should not have accepted the conclusions in the CID report as a valid. She states that the 4 Generals and 5 other officers named as culpable in the IG report are "scapegoats."

That's after 2 1/2 hours ... taking another break.


Note: C-SPAN's liberalized copyright policy.

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