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Pat Tillman and Noam Chomsky--an Unlikely Pair or Two of a Kind?

09.26.2005 09:08 | DISPATCHES

When given news at Northcom headquarters in Colorado that Hurricane Rita was much less serious than Katrina, President Bush, as reported by Newsweek, "didn't look all that relieved or happy. . . seemed cranky and fidgety. . . . rocked back and forth in his chair, furiously at times, asked no questions and took no notes."

If he can't even handle good news, no wonder they keep bad news from him. One can't help but suspect that he's been left out of the loop on the disgraceful fallout from Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire in Afghanistan.

The Pat Tillman episode started out promising for the administration's war effort. This handsome, earnest young man, who'd already proved he had the makings of warrior while succeeding at one of the most aggressive positions in football, was accepted into the elite Army infantry unit, the Rangers. Here's an abstract from a probing, comprehensive article by Robert Collier in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Saunders, who a source said received a reprimand, later was given authority to determine the punishment of those below him. He gave administrative reprimands to six soldiers, including Uthlaut, who had been seriously wounded in the face by shrapnel in the incident."

When their Humvee had broken down, platoon leader Lieutenant David Uthlaut had unsuccessfully appealed to Captain Saunders to refrain from sending half the platoon out to seek help in the daylight in hostile territory.

For Saunders to stand in judgment of the men he abandoned to an ambush may be unconscionable. But it's standard operating procedure for today's defense effort under Rumsfeld. As if that weren't enough. . .

"On May 2, the acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee was told of the fratricide. On May 7, the Army's official casualty report stated incorrectly that Tillman was killed by 'enemy forces' and 'died in a medical treatment facility.' On May 28, the Army finally admitted to Tillman’s family that he had been killed by friendly fire."

From using a sincere recruit as a patriotic puppet, to bad decision-making, to the cover-up, the Tillman case is a microcosm for everything that's gone wrong in Iraq.

Furthermore, it turns out that the brainy Tillman, who while an NFL player, pursued his masters in history, hadn't signed up to parrot the administration line. His self-appointed mission was to fight bin Laden and Taliban. He was thus dismayed to find himself briefly stationed in Iraq, which he thought was an illegal war.

Not only that but, as his mother said, "a friend of Pat's even arranged a private meeting with Chomsky, the antiwar author [who he read and admired], to take place after his return from Afghanistan--a meeting prevented by his death."


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