Iraq war anniversary: The quagmire enters its fifth year (FCN, 04-09-2007)

Kevin Tillman, left, brother of former NFL star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman, who was killed by friendly-fire in Afghanistan, his mother Mary Tillman, center, and former Iraq POW Jessica Lynch, right, are sworn in prior to testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on Capitol Hill, April 24. Photo: AP/World Wide Photos

WASHINGTON, D.C. ( – On Apr. 24, the Congressional Oversight Committee held a hearing to sort through the lies that were told by the military and repeated by the media following the death of Army Ranger Specialist Patrick Tillman in Afghanistan, as well as the capture and rescue of Army Private Jessica Lynch in Iraq. The Committee examined why inaccurate accounts of these two incidents were disseminated, the sources and motivations for the accounts, and whether the appropriate Administration officials have been held accountable.

“The bare minimum we owe our soldiers and their families is the truth. That didn’t happen for the two most famous soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. For Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman, the government violated its most basic responsibility,” said Committee Chair Henry Waxman, (D-Ca.).


“Sensational details and stories were invented in both cases. Sometimes, because of the fog of war, the first reports from the battlefield are inaccurate. But that doesn’t seem to explain what happened here,” he stated.

The hearing reported that Specialist Tillman was killed near Manah, Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Although the Defense Department reported that he had been killed by enemy combatants, it was later disclosed that Spec. Tillman’s death was the result of friendly fire.

Private Lynch was captured when her convoy became lost in An Nasariyah, Iraq, on March 23, 2003. Following her release, the Defense Department disseminated an account of her capture and rescue that turned out to be inaccurate and misleading.

“In Jessica Lynch’s case, the first reports were right. It was the follow-up stories, published 10 days after her capture, that discarded the facts and misled the country,” said Mr. Waxman.

“In working on this hearing, the Committee has learned of many other cases in which the military failed to tell families the truth. Sergeant Eddie Ryan was a victim of friendly fire during his second tour in Iraq. He sustained two gunshot wounds to the head and, thankfully, is still alive. But he didn’t find out the truth about his injuries until five months later, even though his fellow Marines knew immediately that his injuries were due to friendly fire.”

He added, “Other families, like those of First Lieutenant Sarah K. Small, Private First Class Levena Johnson, and Lieutenant Ken Ballard, have been forced to file Freedom of Information Act requests in order to obtain information about the deaths of their loved ones. These families have asked the military repeatedly for basic information, but they have been ignored or dismissed with slow and incomplete answers. This is simply unacceptable.”

On Apr. 25, CNN reported that the last soldier to see Army Ranger Pat Tillman alive, Spc. Bryan O’Neal, testified at the hearing that he was warned by superiors not to divulge–especially to the Tillman family–that a fellow soldier killed Spc. Tillman. Spc. O’Neal wanted to particularly tell fellow soldier Kevin Tillman, who was in the convoy traveling behind his brother at the time of the 2004 incident in Afghanistan.

“I wanted right off the bat to let the family know what had happened, especially Kevin, because I worked with him in a platoon and I knew that he and the family all needed to know what had happened,” Spc. O’Neal testified. “I was quite appalled that when I was actually able to speak with Kevin, I was ordered not to tell him.”

Ms. Lynch told Newsweek, when asked what really happened and who is to blame, “I didn’t even get a shot off. My weapon had jammed. And I didn’t even get to fire. A rocket-propelled grenade hit the back of our [Humvee], which made Lori [Piestewa], my friend, lose control of the vehicle, and we slammed into the back of another truck in our unit.”

“Well, I think, really the military and the media [is to blame]. The military, for not setting the record straight and the media for spreading it, and not seeking the true facts. They just ran with it instead of waiting until the facts were straightened out,” she stated.

In his Apr. 8 national webcast from Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Ill., entitled “The War of Armageddon: How Strong is the Foundation; Can We Survive?” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan specifically warned about how, throughout history, U.S. presidents have always fed propaganda to America’s citizens about the wars it wanted them to support.

“In 1991, President Bush, the 41st President, George W. Bush’s father, lied about the reason for attacking Iraq in 1991. It wasn’t to defend the integrity of Kuwait, but rather to assert U.S. power in the oil-rich Middle East. In 2002, George W. Bush lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction. According to the famous hospital in Baltimore, John Hopkins, 634,000 Iraqis have died in four years, a million and half died since 1991 with sanctions. So those deaths don’t mean anything to America.

“You’re dealing with a government that doesn’t care about its citizens. You’re dealing with a government that does what is necessary for their foreign policy and their national interests,” Minister Farrakhan said, even if it means wasting the lives of its citizens.