Sunday, July 29, 2007

General Wesley Clark Suggests Pat Tillman's Death Was Ordered From 'the Top'

General suggests Tillman death orderered from 'the top'

Jul. 27- On July 26, retired Gen. Wesley Clark told MSNBC Countdown pundit Keith Olbermann that he believed ex-NFL star-turned-Operation Enduring Freedom casualty Pat Tillman may have been murdered. Clark suggested further that Tillman's death may have been ordered from "the top" of the chain of command and that "the truth is not yet out."

Tillman's celebrity, as one who gave up a professional football contract to join the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, made his death major news. The military at first concocted a heroic story about how Tillman had been killed in a fierce firefight with the enemy, despite obvious evidence that he had been shot by his own men at close range. More than a month later, a military investigation reported publicly that the death was not linked to enemy fire.

Clark told Olbermann: "Mary Tillman and the Tillman family have been incredibly courageous in pursuing the truth in this. And the truth is not yet out. If there is even a hint that there was something like a homicide or a murder in this case, it should have been fully investigated and proved or disproved. And we don't really know how far up. Was it the Secretary of Defense's office? Was it the office? Where did the idea that you shouldn't give any indication of what happened to Tillman –just go ahead and go through with the burial, give him the Silver Star…. Where was that idea blessed? You could be sure that idea did not originate or stop at the two- or three-star level…. Someone approved that all the way to the top because Pat Tillman was a political symbol used by the administration when it suited their purposes."

Last week, the White House refused to give Congress documents about Tillman's death. White House counsel Fred F. Fielding said that certain documents relating to the soldier's shooting "implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests."

Clark's remarks came on the heels of new information obtained by the Associated Press which provided new details in Tillman's case.

According to the documents, army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether his death amounted to a crime.

"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors -- whose names were blacked out -- said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

The medical examiners' suspicions were outlined in 2,300 pages of testimony released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman's body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army's Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army's Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.

"He said he talked to his higher headquarters and they had said no," the doctor testified.

Sources: Associated Press, MSNBC, Washington Post. Compiled by AGR

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