Monday, August 29, 2005

Turks & Jerks

An article last week at TURKS.US reported that Australia is more than willing to follow England's lead in ejecting Muslims who preach Jehad.

Unlike Senator Lautenberg's pusilanimous attempts to violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, this IS a 'common sense' approach to negating at least one root-cause of violence.

Here is the money-quote:

A day after a special meeting between Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Muslim leaders, Muslims who do not respect secularism and law were told Wednesday, August 24, to leave the country.

"If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Shari`ah law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you," Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, said on national television.
Well, heck. I think he oughta run for U.S. president in Ought-Eight. He has as good a chance as Arnold, and a lot more credibility.

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In other news, a few months ago when Pat Tillman's death was still fresh news, I wrote that he was killed by "Friendly Fire" in a "Blue-On-Blue" encounter.

Now Southern Mississippi's Sun Herald is running an Associated Press article which seems to confirm it.

Because the Sun Herald website specifically states (on Wednesday, August 24, 2005) that this article will be available for only a 'short time', I'll provide both the link to the story and the full text.

Tillman case reviewed


THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Pentagon's inspector general is reviewing the Army's probe into the friendly fire death of former pro football player Pat Tillman, a spokesman said.

"The other investigations were frauds," Tillman's father, Patrick Tillman, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"People above should have been punished," added Mary Tillman, referring to her son's commanding officers.

Tillman, who played for the Arizona Cardinals, left football after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to join the Army with his brother.

After a tour in Iraq, they were sent to Afghanistan in 2004 to help hunt for the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

On April 22, 2004, Tillman was killed by gunfire from his fellow soldiers, who mistook him for the enemy as he got into position to defend them, military officials have said. After the reports of his death, the military for weeks did not dispute the widespread belief he was killed by enemy fire.

The Army announced later that Tillman likely died because of friendly fire.

His family has been highly critical of the military's handling of his death.

The Defense Department has already completed an investigation into Tillman's death that was aimed at concerns raised about whether the Army held back information, but its findings weren't made public.

The Army has previously said it should have better handled the information on Tillman's death, but denied it.

The link to my earlier post is not immediately available, but it's not the point. The point is that the army first reported that he had been killed by enemy fire, but after a period of investigation realized that he had in fact been fired upon, and killed by, American troops.

I assure you that I didn't immediately, in the confusion which reigned after the untimely death of Tillman, intuit that the Army's original explanation was in error. I read it in the newspapers, sometime in May.

I submit that the U.S. Army made a mistake in their initial announcement, and corrected it as soon as it was obvious that an American bullet had killed Tillman. It happens more frequently than we would wish, it's difficult to distinguish friend from foe when the bullets are flying from all directions. I recall mentioning "the fog of war" in my earlier post, and this not only applies to the immediate consequences ("Blue on Blue", meaning 'friendly fire') but also in the after-action reports. These are the documents describing the moment-by-moment events of a battle, and they are notoriously authored by people who were experiencing both an adrenallin rush and the after-effects of confusion and fear of being killed. They're good for understanding the first impressions, but not notable for having ALL of the information necessary to understand what was REALLY happening. The people who write After Action Reports don't necessarily have all of the information which would provide them the perspective necessary to tell what REALLY happened.


Thus it was, I am reasonably certain, in the Pat Tillman situation. They didn't even know he had been hit until after the battle was over(which is not unusual in combat).

Now, though, he family of Pat Tillman is looking at the earliest reports, comparing them to the latest analysis of the action, and the see the natural discrepancies as 'a lie' on the part of the authorities.

I'm sure the authorities, whomever they are, didn't have a clear picture of the action at the earliest moment and were all too ready to accept the common supposition that Tillman was killed by enemy fire. Certainly, if there was any doubt, they would have preferred to avoid any suggestion that Tillman's friends and fellow soldiers were directly responsible for his death. This would certainly not have provided any comfort to his family.

It wasn't until they were certain that Tillman was fired upon by American troops that they admitted that, yes, it seemed most likely that he was the victim of 'friendly fire'. A reasonable enough mistake, and an understandable one given their reluctance to visit even more pain upon the family.

Now, several months later and now that we know what is most likely the truth about the event, the family isn't focusing on the pain of their loss. They're not angry at Tillman's fellow soldiers who, in the heat of battle, engaged what they wrongly perceived to be a source of enemy fire and consequently killed their loved one.

Instead, they are attacking the army which Pat Tillman joined in an effort to 'make a difference' and defend his country.

Tillman's father considers the early reports to be "frauds" rather than honest mistakes. His mother asserts that "People above should have been punished."

We are left with an understanding, however second-hand, of their sense of loss. But we may not necessarily agree with the motivation they ascribe to the Army spokesmen who initially attributed directly to enemy action. (And wasn't it ultimatly 'enemy action' which forced the firefight which killed him?)

Perhaps it's the times, the month in which Cindy Sheehan has chosen to present an interminable tirade against George Bush and the consequences of his executive decision. We are left with the still small voice suggesting that families of fallen soldiers may be inclined to milk the incident of the death of their loved one for personal or political gain.

I may be too jaded to assume that the Tillmans are making a great media play for the sole reason of attempting to learn the truth of the death of their son . . . can it get any worse than the Army has already admitted it to be? But if not that, why then are they determined to prolong their personal agony, rather than stiving to accept that Pat Tillman was in the Army because he thought that was where he should be, and that he had already accepted that he could be killed in his endeavor? Wasn't it his choice? Do they do him honor by attacking the decisions he made, simply because they led to tragedy?

I don't know. There is too much Cindy Sheehanism in the world for us to sit back and explore the events in the context of their hapening. Instead, we witness families torn apart less by their loss than by their interpretations of the effects of their loss.

I grieve for my country, and for the people who have lost so much but just can't seem to be able to accept the decisions of their sons.

Was it always like this?





2 comments:

VileBill said...

Hear, hear, on the ousters, and fine writing on Pat Tillman. I myself have a son in USMC boot camp right now, and though it is almost indescribable the pride my wife, myself, and his grandparents all feel, we made sure it was his decision and it was about him and his country, not to impress us or anybody else. Love it or Leave it!!

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