Today the Tillman/Lynch Hearings being held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have already resulted in a bombshell of sorts - namely, the government is accused of lying to the American people:
Tillman's brother, Kevin, charged the military with "intentional falsehoods that meet the legal definition for fraud" and "deliberate and careful misrepresentations" of the events surrounding Pat Tillman's death.
Lynch, then an Army private, was badly injured when her convoy was ambushed in Iraq in 2003. She was subsequently rescued by American troops from an Iraqi hospital but the tale of her ambush was changed into a story of heroism on her part.
Manging the public's perception of Iraq has always been a top priority - a higher priority - apparently - then telling the truth to Tillman's family.
Investigations have concluded that the Army new quickly that Tillman's death in Afghanistan three years ago was the result of friendly fire but withheld the news from his family, instead offering up a story of a heroic Tillman facing down the enemy.
"We believe this narrative was intended to deceive the family but more importantly the American public," said Kevin Tillman, choking up as he testified. "Pat's death was clearly the result of fratricide."
"Revealing that Pat's death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster in a month of political disasters ... so the truth needed to be suppressed," said Tillman, who was in a convoy behind his brother but didn't see the incident.
Amazing -- "so the truth needed to be suppressed" - our Army - lying -- And this is how we honor those who've served and died for their country? - by lying to their family about how they died in the hopes of squeezing another fraction out of a public opinion poll?
You bet - Tillman died on April 22, 2004 - and we're talking about an election year here folks. The Republican puppeteers in Washington were busy trying to get their sorry asses re-elected -- to hell with the truth.
Updates continue beneath the fold:
UPDATE I: Another name came up in the hearings -- Pvc. LaVena Johnson, and the Army's account of her death is also in question.
An Army representative initially told LaVena's father, Dr. John Johnson, that his daughter died of "died of self-inflicted, noncombat injuries," but initially added that it was not a suicide. The subsequent Army investigation reversed this finding and declared LaVena's death a suicide, a finding refuted by the soldier's family.
Johnsons' family questioned this accounting, and subsequently more facts came to light:
Little more on LaVena's death was said until St. Louis CBS affiliate KMOV aired a story last night which disclosed troubling details not previously made public - details which belie the Army's assertion that the young Florissant native died by her own hand. The video of the report is available on the KMOV website.
Reporter Matt Sczesny spoke with LaVena's father and examined documents and photos sent by Army investigators. So far from supporting the claim that LaVena died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the documents provided elements of another scenario altogether:
* Indications of physical abuse that went unremarked by the autopsy
* The absence of psychological indicators of suicidal thoughts; indeed, testimony that LaVena was happy and healthy prior to her death
* Indications, via residue tests, that LaVena may not even have handled the weapon that killed her
* A blood trail outside the tent where Lavena's body was found
* Indications that someone attenpted to set LaVena's body on fire
This is an absolute disgrace.
UPDATE II: Ranger Told to Conceal Tillman Info
An Army Ranger who was with Pat Tillman when he died by friendly fire said Tuesday he was told by a higher-up to conceal that information from Tillman's family.
``I was ordered not to tell them,'' U.S. Army Specialist Bryan O'Neal told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
UPDATE III: This just in from the "What did the White House know, and when did they know it?" department --
In questioning what the White House knew, Rep. Elijah Cummings (news, bio, voting record), D-Md., cited a memo written by a top general seven days after Tillman's death warning it was "highly possible" the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire and making clear his warning should be conveyed to the president.
President Bush made no reference to the way Tillman died in a speech delivered two days after the memo was written.
A White House spokesman has said there's no indication Bush received the warning in the memo written April 29, 2004 by then-Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal to Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command.
"It's a little disingenuous to think the administration didn't know," Kevin Tillman told the committee. "That's kind of what we hoped you guys would get involved with and take a look," he said.
Mary Tillman told the committee that family members were "absolutely appalled" upon realizing the extent to which they were misled.
"We've all been betrayed ... We never thought they would use him the way they did," she said.
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