Having watched the 37 minute, Pentagon Briefing 31 July 2007 on Gen. William Wallace's findings regarding the death of Cpl Pat Tillman, I was interested in finding out how exactly could the famous football star's potential death as a fratricide could be, as Deputy Secretary of State Geren called it, "close hold". In other words, how would Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld and the President not know several days later that this was a possibility when the entire platoon knew and so did their officers? More so because the AAR had occured on April 23 and an AR 15-6 investigation was opened on the same day?
Mind you, it is not that I don't understand Afghanistan is 12,000 miles away from the United States. But, Pat Tillman? The heroic, patriotic man who had given up millions to defend his country? Wouldn't somebody want to know what happened?
And how could a command believe the right thing to do was NOT tell the family or pass that information on, up the chain of command?
Was Gen. Kensinger solely responsible or was he left holding the bag?
That is the question that is being sought in congress today even though Gen. Wallace's completed report ends at Gen. Kensinger. Of course, Wallace is a general in the United States Army and has no power over the civilian authority of the Secretary of Defense so his investigation rightfully ends there.
Without passing judgment on Rumsfeld and since I only have documents pertaining to the Army's investigation, there are some very good reasons that Kensinger and several general officers are being held responsible for the failure of providing the Tillman's with appropriate information.
From the AR 15-6 2005, conducted by Brig. Gen. Jones, on page 1977, the name is redacted, but this officer explains clearly that they chose not to provide the Tillman's with information for the very thing that they were accused of - namely "cover up". I believe this is Lt. Gen. Kensinger, though I cannot be certain due to the redacted name. It could be someone directly below him in the chain of command. It is certain it is someone who had direct responsibility for notifying the Tillman family.
-Feb 17, 2005 -I was the [redacted] on 22 Apr 04. As stated in my earlier statement in this investigation, I do not recall the specific date on which I learned Spc Tillman's death may have resulted from friendly fire; however, it was a few days following the incident but prior to 29 Apr 04 when the [redacted] sent a message to the Commanders, CENTCOM, SOCOM, and USASOC advising the death was potentially a fratricide.
In general discussions relating to the friendly fire determination as the cause of death for Spc Tillman, I advised since an AR 15-6 investigation was ongoing and subject to approval by CDR CENTCOM, no one should state definitively that friendly fire caused the death of Spc Tillman.
I am aware the provisions of AR-600-8-1 and 600-34 regarding providing information to the family of suspected friendly fire and status of the pending investigation. In my opinion, neither of these regulations clearly requires the command to inform the family of possible friendly fire as cause of death when there is an investigation pending. Although 600-8-1 provides language to inform the family of a suspected friendly fire, AR 600-34 notes the importance of waiting until the investigation is complete before releasing information prior to findings of the investigation. Further, under AR 15-6, the approving authority can change or substitute findings or recommendations of the investigating officer.
In my opinion, the commander makes the decision on what information to provide the family at notification or thereafter, except that he cannot pre-empt the pending investigation which would go to CDR CENTCOM for approval. I saw no regulatory requirements for the [redacted] to inform the family that we suspected friendly fire prior to completion of the investigation.
I was sensitive to the issue of information to the family and pending investigation since we handled a similar situation June 03 OIF. In that case, preliminary information to the family indicated the service member's death likely resulted from friendly fire. The CDR CENTCOM approved the AR 15-6 investigation into the incident as the approving authority, he added a finding to note there was enemy fire during the fight. Although the additional finding did not change the finding that friendly fire caused the death under investigation, it did create additional challenges for the command in dealing with the family of the deceased, including allegations of cover up by the military.
Ultimately, in considering any information provided to the Tillman next of kin, I advised caution in providing information relating to friendly fire pending completion of the investigation.
I believe my original assumption is correct and this is LT Gen. Kensinger. I don't know if anything else needs to be said after reading this though there are reams of statements I've reviewed and some that are equally pertinent to the question of casualty notice, office of personnel and various other people who were and were not directly responsible for this failing to properly notify the family.
It seems clear that some sort of strange risk aversion overcame this officer and deluded him/her into believing that the command's reputation or even some overweening desire to defend the rights of the possible shooters (though it doesn't read that way) stood above the honest and deserved care for a fallen soldiers' family. This officer blatantly states that he re-interpreted the regulations requiring information to be given to the family regarding pending investigations into friendly fire incidents.
The worst of this is, the AAR and preliminary statements from those involved clearly stated that they understood it to be fratricide on more than one occasion long before the end of the investigation. Further, to hold it long enough that Cpl Tillman's friends and fellow platoon members could tell them without the proper respect and support that should have been provided by the military is nearly criminal.
And, as noted by Geren, a serious disgrace to the uniform, the Army and it's values. This officer put themselves above their men and their families. That is a stain of shame.
Stay tuned for additional comments on the other officers involved as well as how the press releases were coordinated to end up with the giant gap in this story.
Pat Tillman: Death and Conspiracy Part I - The Beginning
Part II: Conspiracy and Death-Trajectory
Pat Tillman: Death and Conspiracy - The Press at it's Best
Pat Tillman: death and conspiracy - Olbermann is an Idiot
Pat Tillman: Death and Conspiracy Part III - Cycle of Disinformation