I missed this part of the congressional investigation into the Tillman/Lynch fiasco, first reported six days ago. Was this an under the radar aspect of the story, or was this under-reported?
Within hours of Pat Tillman’s death, the Army went into information-lockdown mode, cutting off phone and Internet connections at a base in Afghanistan, posting guards on a wounded platoon mate, and ordering a sergeant to burn Tillman’s uniform.
Does anyone else feel a sharp pit of disgust in their stomach? If you have human feeling, you should.
How common is burning a soldier’s private property after s/he has been killed in action? I don’t know anything about millitary justice, but my J.D. from Law & Order University tells me destroying evidence is a no-no. My moral compass tells me that destroying a fallen soldier’s property is beyond disgraceful. It’s repugnant. It’s…well, I’m speechless.
Also, just in case you missed it, here is a concise recap from The Belfast Telegraph:
THE JESSICA LYNCH STORY
Lynch, then a 19-year-old army private, resisted heroically when her supply unit was ambushed near Nasiriyah on 23 March 2003, four days into the invasion. Badly injured, she was taken to an Iraqi hospital where she was allegedly mistreated. After a tip-off, American special forces stormed the hospital on 1 April, rescuing her and recovering the bodies of eight US soldiers. The night raid, which was filmed, was said to have met with fierce resistance.
During the ambush, Lynch was knocked unconscious as her vehicle crashed. She woke up in the Iraqi hospital with broken bones but no recollection of the incident, and certainly never fired her weapon. She seems to have been well treated. As for the rescue raid, Iraqi doctors said they were herded at gunpoint and treated like insurgents. Medical equipment was smashed. All Iraqi soldiers had left the hospital the previous day, and there was no resistance.
THE PAT TILLMAN STORY
Tillman, a corporal in the elite Army Rangers, was killed on 22 April 2004, when his unit was attacked in an ambush near the village of Sperah in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. He was said to have been killed by enemy fire in the incident, in which an Afghan militia soldier was killed, and two other Rangers injured. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for valour, on the basis of a falsified citation. George Bush called him a “national inspiration”.
Tillman’s unit was split into two groups as it moved through a canyon on a search mission for al-Qa’ida and Taliban fighters. Tillman was assigned to the advance unit, but it was the second, trailing unit that came under attack. Tillman tried to chase off the attackers. He was killed in chaotic firing by the second unit – even though the driver of its lead vehicle later testified he recognised Tillman as a “friendly” and tried to signal to his colleagues to cease fire.
Further viewing: YouTube video of Kevin Tillman and Dennis Kucinich discussing the burning of Tillman’s uniform.
With each day that passes I find deeper resonance in the words of Wilfred Owen, a Brittish soldier killed in the first World War:
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.*
*It is sweet and becoming to die for one’s country