The first casualty of warYou remember the big story when a soldier named Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan? It was a big story because he'd quit a lucrative career as an NFL football player to join the military. The Army peddled the story that he'd been killed in a hail of enemy fire. The military has concluded that he was killed by "friendly fire" (accidentally by his own troops).
But according to a recent US military investigation, army chiefs were informed that Tillman's death was the result of "friendly fire" within days of his death, but chose not to reveal this fact to his family or friends, according to the BBC.
Curiously, the military held to its public story until weeks after a televised memorial service in which fans paid tribute to the man hailed as an "American hero".
Tillman's parents were scathing about military dishonesty.
"They purposely interfered with the investigation, they covered it up. I think they thought they could control it, and they realised that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a hand basket if the truth about the death got out. They blew up their poster boy," Patrick Tillman Senior said.
Friendly fire deaths occur in pretty much every conflict. But it shows how paranoid Army leaders were about the potential effect on recruiting efforts, efforts already hindered by an unpopular in Iraq whose justifications have been all but totally discredited.
"Pat had high ideals about the country, that's why he did what he did. The military let him down. The administration let him down. It was a sign of disrespect," his mother Mary Tillman said.
This administration has played fast and loose with the truth since day one. It's no surprise that this blatant disregard for straight-forwardness has filtered into the military. If they'll lie about a little thing like this that really isn't a big deal in the whole scheme of things (except to Tillman's family), then what credibility will they have on the big things?
Or maybe they just figure they don't have any credibility left.