Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came out of retirement to testify at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to discuss the investigation into the killing of Army Ranger Pat Tillman. He should have stayed home.
He sat in that room and lied. He lied knowing that Pat's mom, Mary, his dad, brother and widow were sitting behind him. There are no words to adequately describe the contempt I have for these so called men who come to Congress with little regard for a family's search for the truth. These men who had taken the job of leading this generation of men & women who entrusted them to respect their service to their country. These men do not deserve to call themselves leaders because they failed their men and women when they failed to tell the truth about this war before it started and they failed to tell the truth to the Tillman families and many other families who were denied the truth. History will judge them to be so much less than the leaders they purport themselves to be. History will also judge them to be small men with small minds and smaller hearts.
This hearing was another example of these people using their personal dictionary to define words as they see fit. Rusmfeld says there was no coverup.
What is a coverup if not ordering a young soldier to not tell the Tillman family the truth when he attended the memorial service in Pat's home town, 11 days after he was killed.
What is a coverup if not Lt General Kensington sitting at that same memorial service- he knew the whole truth on that day and he failed to tell the family and the nation the truth?
What is a coverup if not Army commanders recommending Pat Tillman for the Silver Star for gallantry in action, while withholding evidence of friendly fire from his family for five weeks?
And when the president plays the executive privilege card because he doesn't want to say what he knew and when he knew it, it is a coverup, I don't care what he wants to call it.
What is a coverup if not Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal sending a high-priority "Personal For" on April 29, 2004, to Gen. John Abizaid and two other generals, warning that Tillman's April 22, 2004, death was likely friendly fire. The cable urged them to contact "POTUS" (the president of the United States) "in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country's leaders which might cause embarrassment if the circumstances of Cpl. Tillman's death becomes public."
Gen. Richard Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged discussing with his public affairs director how "we portray this situation" to the news media. And still when asked why he did nothing, he responded "I don't think there's any regulation that would require me to do anything," Myers said. "This is the responsibility of the United States Army, not the office of the chairman, so I regret that the Army did not do their duty here and follow their own policy." In other words, "not my problem" If chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff believes that, then why would any other military leader believe they should step forward for anything that is not being done right? Let's not stand up for those soldiers and their families who look for leadership to do the right thing, because no, it's not my responsibility. It's pathetic, really.
Rumsfeld said The Tillmans were owed the truth, delivered in a forthright and timely manner. And certainly the truth was owed to the memory of the man whose valor, dedication and sacrifice to his country remains an example for all." Of course they are owed the truth, but if Rumsfeld thinks the family believed him at the hearing or any other time or anything that is being offered the family as truth, Mary Tillman responded by saying "it is a complete donkey show. "I believe that this (the cover-up and misinformation about Tillman having been killed by friendly fire) came from (former Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld," Mary said. "And they're just protecting him. . . . The public doesn't understand what is going on. No matter what has been put out in the news, it hasn't made a dent in what actually took place. Nobody quite understands how nefarious this is. I can tell you that there wouldn't be this big show of punishment if there wasn't something to this."
People tell us Gold Star families to get over it, get on with our lives; your loved one is never coming back. They ask us why the truth matters and that we are disrespecting our loved one's death by not accepting what the military has told us. We are the voices of our loved ones who can no longer speak. The Tillman family deserves our gratitude for their persistence and courage in holding those responsible who do not have the same moral courage. The military seems to think we can't handle the truth, but as Mary Tillman rightfully said "all you have is the truth."