Mr. Davis of Virginia. General Myers, when you learned that this was a possible fratricide, what would Army regulations require you to do or the chain of command to do at that point?
General Myers. I don't come under Army regulations, but -- I don't think there is any regulation that would require me to do anything actually. What I would normally do -- it was in Army channels. What I would normally do, if I thought the Secretary did not know that, I would so inform the Secretary. I cannot recall whether or not I did that.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. We are going to find out in a second.
General Myers. Yeah, well, I think -- you can ask the Secretary. But I don't recall if I did that.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. What would Army regulations have required at that point?
General Myers. My understanding is the way the Army regulations were written, and this is from research here getting ready for the committee, is that they should have notified the family at the time that there was a possibility of fratricide as soon as they knew it.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Nobody at the top was ensuring that -- really looked at the regulations at that point?
General Myers. That wouldn't be our responsibility. When I learned that General McChrystal had initiated an investigation, that was -- that was good for me. I know he had worked for me before. I knew his integrity. I said, this is good, and they are going to do an investigation. We will learn the truth.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Mr. Secretary, thank you for being with us today. How and when did you learn that Corporal Tillman had been killed? There is a button on the base.
Mr. Rumsfeld. I don't recall precisely how I learned that he was killed. It could have been internally, or it could have been through the press. It was something that obviously received a great deal of attention.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Do you remember did you take any action at the time that you learned that he was killed? Obviously, this was an American hero. This could be highly publicized and of great concern to a lot of people.
Mr. Rumsfeld. The only action I can recall taking was to draft a letter to the family.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. OK. Before he did so, were you aware that President Bush was going to reference Corporal Tillman in a correspondents' dinner speech on May 1st?
Mr. Rumsfeld. No.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. So to your knowledge or recollection, you never had any conversations with the President or anybody at the White House about that possibility?
Mr. Rumsfeld. I have no recollection of discussing it with the White House until toward the -- when it became a matter of public record about the fratricide. At that point, and when the family was notified, I am sure there were discussions with the White House, but prior to that, I don't have a recollection of it. Possibly Dick does. Dick Myers and I met with the White House frequently, but I don't recall bringing this up.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. General Myers.
General Myers. And I don't recall ever having a discussion with anybody at the White House about the Tillman case one way or another.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Mr. Secretary, were you aware in the period after Corporal Tillman's death of the extensive media coverage being given to this tragic event and Corporal Tillman's service as a Ranger?
Mr. Rumsfeld. I don't understand the question.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. You were aware of the extensive media coverage being given to this event?
Mr. Rumsfeld. When he was killed, absolutely.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Did you instruct your staff at any point to try to influence in any way the coverage?
Mr. Rumsfeld. Absolutely not. Indeed, quite the contrary. The Uniform Code of Military Justice and the investigation process is such that anyone in the command, chain of command, is cautioned to not ask questions, to not inject themselves into it, to not do anything privately or publicly that could be characterized as command influence which could alter the outcome of an investigation. And as a result, the practice of most Secretaries of Defense and people in the chain of command is to be very cautious and careful about inquiring or seeming to have an opinion or putting pressure on anyone who is involved in any portion of the military court-martial process or the investigation process. And as a result, I have generally stayed out over my tenure as Secretary of Defense.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Do you remember when you learned that this was a possible fratricide?
Mr. Rumsfeld. Well, I don't remember. And what I have been told subsequently is that there was a person in the room when I was -- who says I was told when he was in the room. And --
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Do you remember when that was?
Mr. Rumsfeld. He said that he came back from Iraq on May 20th, and that, therefore, he assumes I was told on or after May 20th. Whether I was told before that, I just don't have any recollection. And the best I can do is what I put in my letter to the acting Inspector General, which referenced that instance.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. When you learned about this, then, for the first time, do you remember did you decide you needed to tell somebody else about this to convey this, make sure the family was known, the White House or media people? Do you remember?
Mr. Rumsfeld. I don't recall when I was told, and I don't recall who told me, but my recollection is that it was at a stage when there were investigations underway, in which case I would not have told anybody to go do something with respect to it. And as Chairman Myers says, this was a matter basically that the Army was handling, and it was not something that I would inject myself into in the normal course of my role as Secretary of Defense.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Let me just try to get to that. Your letter says that I am told I received word of this development, i.e., the possibility of fratricide, after May 20, 2004, because that is when this person had returned --
Mr. Rumsfeld. Right.
Mr. Davis of Virginia [continuing]. From Iraq.
Mr. Rumsfeld. That is where that came from.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Who was the person? Do you remember?
Mr. Rumsfeld. I do. His name is Colonel Steve Bucci, and he told that to my civilian assistant.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. And the May 20th date, the significance of that is the date he returned from Iraq?
Mr. Rumsfeld. That is my understanding.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. So it would have been at that time or a subsequent date in all likelihood.
Mr. Rumsfeld. That is my understanding. That is not to say that was the time, because I just simply don't recollect, but that is my best information.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. As it gets refreshed. I understand.
When did you learn of the P-4 message? This message suggested that senior leaders be warned about the friendly fire possibility. And when you learned that these instructions had been heeded, what was your reaction that there was a P-4 underway? Do you remember that?
Mr. Rumsfeld. I don't remember when or from whom I learned about the P-4, if at all. I don't recall even seeing it until recent weeks in the aftermath of your previous hearings. But so I just don't have any recollection of having seen it until more recently.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. On March 6, 2006, you sent a snowflake to your deputy, the Secretary of the Army, the Army Chief of Staff and others, and in this memorandum you wrote, I am not convinced the Army is the right organization to undertake the fifth investigation of Pat Tillman's death. Please consult with the right folks and come back to me with options and a recommendation fast with the right way to proceed.
Why did you believe the Army was not the right organization to undertake the investigation which followed General Jones' inquiry?
Mr. Rumsfeld. Well, I don't remember the phraseology of that, but my recollection is that I asked the question of the deputy, who kind of is very deeply involved in the business of the Department, that if there have been several investigations by the Army, mightn't it be logical, that if still an additional one was necessary, that one ought to consider where is the best place to have that investigation conducted? I didn't know the answer to the question, but I raised it with the deputy, thinking that it is something that ought to be addressed.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Did you believe the Jones investigation was deficient in some way?
Mr. Rumsfeld. I had no reason to believe that, except that, as I recall, we were moving into -- the Army was moving into -- the command, whoever was doing the investigations, were moving into the fifth one.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. So you were looking at fresh eyes, basically.
On March 10, 2006, the DOD Early Bird publication included a column from the Arizona Republic which discussed the Tillman family's dissatisfaction with the notification process and the subsequent investigations. On March 13th, you sent a copy of this article, along with a memo, to the Secretary of the Army and to Pete Schoomaker, the Army Chief of Staff. In this memo you said, I would think you, Pete, would want to call and/or write a letter of apology to the family and have it published. This situation has been handled very poorly. It is not acceptable, and you may want to say that. If you agree, you will need to set about fixing the system or process that produced this most unfortunate situation.
Do you remember that?
Mr. Rumsfeld. I do. I don't have it in front of me, but that sounds about right.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Do you know if they did as you asked?
Mr. Rumsfeld. I don't. I know that -- I have a vague recollection that in one instance the Secretary of the Army came back to me and indicated something to the effect that he agreed generally with my note, but felt that he -- they were taking the appropriate steps or something. And I just don't recall it.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. On March 13, 2006, 3 days later, the DOD Early Bird publication included a column from the Atlanta Constitution, which further discussed various complaints about the notification process and the subsequent investigation of Corporal Tillman's death. Two days later, March 15th, you sent a copy of this article, along with another memo, to the Secretary of the Army. In this memo you said, here is an article on the death of Corporal Tillman. How in the world can that be explained? I guess did the Secretary offer any explanation on the various foul-ups in this matter to you? And what was your reaction at this point to any explanation he might have given?
Mr. Rumsfeld. Well, I can't remember specifically, but as you read those things, obviously, I, as Secretary of Defense -- one feels terrible that a situation like that is being handled in a way that is unsatisfactory and that additional investigations were required. On the other hand, a Secretary of Defense has to try to pose it as questions rather than assertions, because I didn't -- I was not intimately knowledgeable of the nature of those investigations. I wasn't in a position to give direction without risking command influence, in my view. And as a result, I posed these memos to these people responsible with questions rather than assertions.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
I would just last, seeing where we are today and how this was handled, you are Secretary of Defense, how do you feel about it?
Mr. Rumsfeld. Well, I feel, as I indicated in my opening remarks, a great deal of heartbreak for the Tillman family, and deep concern, and a recognition that the way the matter was handled added to their grief. And it is a most unfortunate situation that anyone has to agree is something that the Department has to find ways to avoid in the future. We owe the young men and women who serve our country better than that.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. You think we certainly owe the Tillman family an apology the way this was handled?
Mr. Rumsfeld. Indeed, as I said in my memo sometime back.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Thank you.
Mr. Rumsfeld. And as I have said publicly here today.
Mr. Davis of Virginia. Thank you.
Chairman Waxman. Let me announce to the Members there are votes going on, but we are going to continue the hearing. So if you wish to respond to the vote and come back, we are going to proceed on the line of questioning.
Mrs. Maloney. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank all the panelists for your service and for cooperating with the committee today.
I would like to followup on General Myers' testimony, where you testified that you learned that Corporal Tillman had been killed by friendly fire at the end of April, and that you reached out to your public affairs officer to calibrate your response in order to be absolutely accurate and precise in your response. Yet May 3rd, there was a memorial service held for Corporal Tillman, which got a great -- he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was national news that he had been killed in hostile fire. And at this memorial service he received the Silver Star, if I recall. And yet the family and the world at this point on May 3rd were told that he died with hostile fire, when you knew, as head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that he died with friendly fire, and you knew this for a month before, and in your own words you wanted to be precise about this information.
Why did you not come forward and tell the family and tell the public the truth? The family was not told the truth until the end of May.
General Myers. Well, first of all, I did not know that Corporal Tillman had been killed by friendly fire. I didn't say that. What I said was that I was informed that it is possibly friendly fire, and that there is an investigation ongoing.
In terms of notifying the family, that is in Army channels, and we have just talked about the regret there is for the fact that was not done properly. If it had been done properly, my assumption would be they would have known before the memorial service. So I did not know it was friendly fire until the investigation.
Like Secretary Rumsfeld, when you are in a senior position, you have to be very careful what you say about it. And that is why I talked to the public affairs officer. By the way, I talked to my former public affairs officer --
Mrs. Maloney. Yet, General Myers, you knew that he died, that there was a possibility that he died by friendly fire. We are told all the time in the press possibilities. We are told, hopefully, the truth. So at that point you knew then, I assume many people knew, that there was a possibility that he died by friendly fire, and yet that was not disclosed until a full month afterwards.
The family would have wanted to hear the truth. They testified they would have wanted to hear the truth. And if there was a possibility, they would have wanted to hear the possibilities. And usually in this country what we hear is the possibilities, and hopefully the truth coming forward. And yet in this, this was not -- you sat on your hands and you didn't say anything about it. And I find that hard to understand.
General Myers. Well, as you understand, I think, from the materials that have been presented to the committee so far and all the testimony, this is the responsibility of the U.S. Army, not of the Office of the Chairman. And so I regret that the Army did not do their duty here and follow their own policy, which we have talked about. But they did not. My assumption would have to be -- my assumption --
Mrs. Maloney. General Myers, do you regret your actions that you did not reach out -- you were the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Army is under you.
General Myers. That is not entirely correct.
Mrs. Maloney. Let's get into what is right and fair and not the --
General Myers. What is right and fair is exactly what Secretary Rumsfeld talked about. What was right and fair is to follow Army policy and notify the family when they think there is a possibility.
Mrs. Maloney. So the family should have been notified that there was a possibility.
General Myers. According to the Army regulations, as I understand them, that is correct. By the way, the Marine regulations don't. They don't notify until they are for sure is my understanding.
Mrs. Maloney. So the Army did not follow their guidelines that they should have told the family and the public that there was a possibility that our hero, our football hero and war hero, died by friendly fire.
General Myers. They should have talked about the possibility of that as soon as they knew it, according to the regulations, absolutely.
Mrs. Maloney. I would like to ask Secretary Rumsfeld, Corporal Tillman was a very, very famous soldier when he enlisted. It was very acknowledged by many people. He was a professional football player; he was offered millions of dollars in a contract that he turned down to serve our country. He captured your attention when he enlisted in May 2002, and you sent a letter on June 28, 2002, which I would like to make part of the record. And in it you write him and you say, I heard that you are leaving the National Football League to become an Army Ranger. It is a proud and patriotic thing that you are doing.
We also received yesterday --
Chairman Waxman. Without objection that will be made part of the record.
Mrs. Maloney. Thank you.
[The information referred to follows:]
THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
JUN 28, 2002
Mr. Pat Tillman
2883 North Pershing Avenue
Stockton, CA 95207
Dear Mr. Tillman:
I heard that you were leaving the National Football League to become an Army Ranger.
It is a proud and patriotic thing you are doing.
With best wishes,
Mrs. Maloney. We also received yesterday a snowflake that you sent about Corporal Tillman that is dated June 25, 2002. And a snowflake is a name that you give to memos that are sent to senior defense officials. And you sent this snowflake to Thomas White, then-Secretary of the Army. And the subject line is Pat Tillman. And let me read what you said here. "Here is an article on a fellow who is apparently joining the Rangers. He sounds like he is world-class. We might want to keep an eye on him.''
May I put this in the record, sir?
Chairman Waxman. Without objection, that will be ordered.
[The information referred to follows:]
June 25, 2002 3:39 P.M.
TO: Tom White
FROM: Donald Rumsfeld
SUBJECT: Pat Tillman
Here is an article on a fellow who is apparently joining the Rangers. He sound like he is world-class. We might want to keep our eye on him.
Isaacson, Melissa, "Marching to His Own Ideals," Chicago Tribune, 06/02/02
Chairman Waxman. The gentlelady's time has expired. Did you want to --
Mrs. Maloney. May I ask for an additional --
Chairman Waxman. Were you leading to a question?
Mrs. Maloney. Yes, I was.
Chairman Waxman. OK. Would you ask it quickly?
Mrs. Maloney. When Corporal Tillman was killed in 2004, was this a blow to you when you heard this news?
Mr. Rumsfeld. It is. Clearly it is a blow when you read of a death of a young man or a young woman who is serving our country in uniform and gives their lives. It is always a heartbreaking thing for anyone in a position of responsibility to read about.
Mrs. Maloney. That's --
Chairman Waxman. Thank you, Mrs. Maloney.