Pat Tillman

Remember Pat Tillman? He was the American football player who joined the Army after 9/11 and who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.

At first, his death was portrayed courageously - a firefight with terrorists that resulted in his death. But then rumours about a friendly fire incident turned into fact. But even that was exposed as problematic. At first he was fired upon by friendlies during an engagement with the enemy... but then it was admitted that two groups of US soldiers had inadvertently fired on one another.

There were all sorts of suspicious goings-on as well. Tillman's bullet-ridden body armour was burnt in order to cover up certain facts. Now this has surfaced:
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 the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

"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.

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman's death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.


Among other information contained in the documents:

* In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop "sniveling."

* Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

* The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman's death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn't recall details of his actions.

* No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene - no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.


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.

Also according to the documents, investigators pressed officers and soldiers on a question Mrs. Tillman has been asking all along.

"Have you, at any time since this incident occurred back on April 22, 2004, have you ever received any information even rumor that Cpl. Tillman was killed by anybody within his own unit intentionally?" an investigator asked then-Capt. Richard Scott.

Scott, and others who were asked, said they were certain the shooting was accidental.
Maybe it wasn't a friendly fire incident... maybe it was fragging.

An M-16 can be set to fire a three bullet burst, by the way. So whoever fired the M-16 got all three hits at once. 10 yards is 9.14 metres. Moreover, the M-16 and AK-47 have different sounds when fired. Even in the heat of a (theoretical) friendly-fire incident someone would have realised that the "enemy" was using the same rifle as theirs.

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