by Mary Tillman with Narda Zacchino
© 2008 by by Mary Tillman with Narda Zacchino
Front cover photo by Will Ryan
Back cover photo courtesy of the Tillman Family
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The Tillman Fratricide: What the Leadership of the Defense Department Knew -- Hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives, 110th Congress
Misleading Information from the Battlefield: The Tillman and Lynch Episodes -- United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib, edited by Karen J. Greenberg, Joshua L. Dratel
Taxi to the Dark Side, directed by Alex Gibney -- Illustrated Screenplay
Interview with Pat Tillman's Parents, by Larry King
Killing Pat Tillman, by J. Bruce Campbell
Was the Pin-Up Boy of Bush's War on Terror Assassinated?, by Charles Laurence
Table of Contents:
• Inside Front Cover
• Chapter 1
• Chapter 2
• Chapter 3
• Chapter 4
• Chapter 5
• Chapter 6
• Chapter 7
• Chapter 8
• Chapter 9
• Chapter 10
• Chapter 11
• Chapter 12
• Chapter 13
• Chapter 14
• Chapter 15
• Sources & Credits
"Here is the [steak] dinner but we're giving it to you on a, you know, garbage can cover. You know, you got it, you work it." -- General Howard Yellen
I'm also angry that the Army hasn't provided Marie with Pat's autopsy report. At lunchtime I call Senator John McCain.... I ask him if we are being unrealistic to expect Pat's autopsy after five months. He tells me we should have it by now and indicates he will make sure it's sent to us....
The next day ... I see an envelope from Fed Ex. The envelope was sent from Rockville, Maryland; it's Pat's autopsy report.....
I place a call to Commander Craig Mallak, Armed Forces medical examiner at Rockville, Maryland. Commander Mallak explains that he didn't perform Pat's autopsy; a Dr. James Caruso did. He says Dr. Caruso is currently in Iraq, but he tells me he is quite familiar with Pat's case. I ask Dr. Mallak why Pat would measure two inches taller when he was missing so much of his head. He tells me that the measurements aren't very exact. He says he may have been measured with his toes pointed.....I tell him Pat's wedding band was platinum, yet the report says the ring was gold. Mallak tells me the ring was described from a photograph and that the lighting in the room made the ring appear gold....[I asked] why aren't descriptions written down while looking at the body? It makes no sense to describe details from a photograph...[Mallak said] Yes, ma'am....I ask him why none of Pat's distinguishing features were documented.... [Mallak said] they don't do internal examinations...[I asked] why would Pat have been defibrillated? ...[Mallak said] we normally don't fault someone for trying to save someone's life.... [I asked] why is Pat's autopsy dated July 22, nearly three months after the autopsy was performed?... [Mallak said] Ma'am, Dr. Caruso and I didn't believe the information we read on the casualty report. Enemy rounds don't cause the type of wounds your son had. Dr. Caruso refused to sign the autopsy report....
The information I just learned from Dr. Mallak makes me more fearful and suspicious that Pat may have been killed intentionally. I say very little about my suspicions to anyone other than my closest friends and family because I know people won't understand ... conspiracy theories.
"If that was an unofficial visit, why was he wearing his uniform? I think it's strange."
"I'll tell you something more strange," Richard says, lifting his face as he blows cigarette smoke out the corner of his mouth. "After listening to this bullshit at Dad's, I said to [Col Jeffrey] Bailey on the way here, 'I don't care what anyone says, I think my brother was fucking murdered.'''
Kevin looks at Richard and asks apprehensively, "What did he say?"
Our eyes shift back and forth, ready to weigh each other's reactions. "He said, 'You may be right.'''
Mike tells me he has read a book called Bush on the Couch, by Dr. Justin A. Frank. He tells me Dr. Frank is a psychiatrist who lives and works in Georgetown. He has done a lot of research on the president and has observed him from afar. The book states that Bush doesn't admire or respect the soldiers; on the contrary, he resents them. They are true warriors; Bush can only pretend. Mike brings the book to my house, and I read all night. In the morning before leaving for work, I call information and get Dr. Frank's number at George Washington University Medical School. I leave a message telling him my name and that my son was killed in Afghanistan in April. I let him know I want to speak to him and that I will be home by four p.m. Pacific time, then I leave my number. When I return home from work, I have a message from Dr. Frank. He tells me he knows who I am, and he will stay in his office until I return home to call him. Immediately, I dial the number, and he answers right away. I waste no time getting to the point.
"Hello, Dr. Frank. I'm Mary Tillman. I don't want to waste your time. I'm calling to ask you a question. Do you think it's possible that this administration orchestrated my son's death?"
"Sad to say, yes."
I'm positively stunned by his response. I thought he would gently tell me that he doesn't believe the administration is very honorable, but it would never do something so heinous as to have a soldier killed. "You believe they killed him?" I ask numbly.
"I think it's possible. Mrs. Tillman, I'm a psychiatrist. It would be unethical and irresponsible for me to tell a grieving mother to pursue such a thing if I didn't think it was possible."
[Private Bryan O'Neal] Not long after did a friendly cargo/GMV come down the road toward our direction. When they made eye contact with us, they opened fire with small arms. They rolled through very quickly. After they came, a GMV with a .50-cal rolled into our sight and started to unload on top of us. They would work in bursts, .50-cal for 10-15 seconds, 240B 10-15 seconds (back and forth) for a few minutes. SPC Tillman and I were yelling stop ... stop ... friendlies ... friendlies ... cease fire!" But they couldn't hear us. Tillman came up with the idea to let a smoke grenade go. This stopped the friendly contact for a few moments and that's when I realized that the AMF soldier was dead. At this time, the GMV rolled into a better position to fire on us. We thought the battle was over so we were relieved, getting up stretching out and talking with one another when I heard some 5.56 rounds coming from the GMV. They started firing again. After only a few 5.56 rounds the .50 cal started fire again. That's when I hit the deck and started praying. SPC Tillman at this time was hit with some small arms fire. I know this because I could hear the pain in his voice as he called out "cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat fucking Tillman damn it." He said this over and over until he stopped. Not long after the firing stopped the GMV moved out. I was lying next to the original rock I used for cover when I heard what sounded like water pouring down ... I then looked over at my side to see a river of blood coming down [from] where he was. I had blood all over my shoulder from him and when I looked at him, I saw his head was gone.
SCOTT: I saw this original in the three-ring binder when I came back from Afghanistan. And now apparently we can't find it. And so this is the only one that's out there, unless you have a copy.... Again sir, a copy of my recommendations [was] submitted along with my report. But ...
Sir, my original recommendation or report that I submitted to regiment headquarters, one of my recommendations that is not on [this] draft was [that] I recommended that certain leaders be investigated if this investigation continued because I felt that there was some stuff negligent on their part ... I don't know if it was appropriate to do that because some of the persons that I interviewed were of the same rank and of higher rank than I. But that's what I submitted to -- that's what I wrote on my final report was that these persons or persons that I listed, certain persons be investigated because of what I thought was some gross negligence.
JONES: Do you remember specifically who that was?
SCOTT: Staff Sergeant Baker was one of the individuals.
JONES: And you said people of equal or higher rank to you?
SCOTT: I interviewed [CFT commander] at the time, sir, and then Captain [William] Saunders. I also interviewed the ... Executive Officer at the time.
JONES: That was Captain [Kirby] Dennis?
SCOTT: Yes, sir.
LT. COL. MICHAEL HARGIS: Can we take a break here, sir?
JONES: [To Scott] We're going to take about a two-minute break here. Could you step out for a minute?
SCOTT: Yes, sir.
JONES: I want to remind you that you're still under oath. One question I have is, Captain, is that you stated that, in your investigation, you are of the opinion that there were others that were potentially negligent. And you said Staff Sergeant Baker, you thought, in your opinion, demonstrated gross negligence. Is that accurate?
SCOTT: Yes, sir.
JONES: Were there others that demonstrated gross negligence?
SCOTT: Yes, sir, I believe the .50-cal gunner and the 240- gunner.
JONES: And their names?
SCOTT: ... The .50-cal gunner was Specialist [Stephen] Ashpole and then the 240-gunner was Specialist Stephen Elliott.
JONES: Okay. You also said, though, you listed three other names, CFT commander Saunders, and Dennis. What specifically was the reference to those three?
SCOTT: That they were part of the interview process. So the sworn statements that I received from them were submitted with my original packet to the Regiment Headquarters.
JONES: Okay. But you had mentioned them right after you talked about Staff Sergeant Baker and negligence.
SCOTT: No. Okay, sir. That must have been my fault because they shouldn't be connected to the negligence. I think I was just referring to the fact that in my investigation, I had to interview those that are the same rank or higher in rank than I. I think that's what I was trying to portray.
SCOTT: I just -- this whole process -- and I was going through the interview process, it was really -- I think it's pretty easy to say that -- probably the most difficult things, in fact, the most difficult things that I had to do since I've been in the Army. The other difficult thing, though, was watching some of these guys getting off ... with what I thought was a lesser of a punishment than what they should've received. And I will tell you, over a period of time, you know, sir, you're like the third, fourth investigating officer to come in, [and] without the sworn statements, the stories have changed. They have changed to, I think, help some individuals.
And I'm going to give you an example and I'm hoping this doesn't -- this recording doesn't leave this room. But I was called in to the battalion commander's office. And the reason I'm saying this is because I disagree how this happened. But, during Staff Sergeant Baker's field grades meeting and they had the entire chain of command [inaudible] ... that were involved, the NCO, the company commander, first sergeant, all sticking up for Baker.
And the reason the battalion commander [Colonel Jeffrey Bailey] called me in was because the NCOs, [it] so happened, changed their story in how things occurred and the timing and the distance; in an attempt to stick up for their counterpart, [they] implied, insinuated that the report wasn't as accurate as I submitted it up the chain of command.
And so instead of, really, an individual punishing or giving out the punishment to Staff Sergeant Baker, I was the one in there saying, "No, this is accurate. They signed [interviews], sir, that were given to me." And that Staff Sergeant Baker did indeed show some gross negligence. So I kind of was the bad guy in front of the entire chain of command, sticking to the report, sticking to the conclusion.
And that probably should've been handled much differently than that, I think. I don't know if it was an attempt to put me in as a bad guy ... The bottom line is, Staff Sergeant Baker was not chaptered out of the Army. I thought at a minimum that's what he should've received, but he did not. He received a field grade. Individuals Elliott [and] Ashpole were [inaudible] given company grades and now are serving in a different unit.
And ... you asked me if there's anything else. I guess that's really my frustration, is that I had to go through this, come up with a conclusion and then part of my recommendation was saying we need to look at these guys. Here are some individuals that could potentially, and have, demonstrated lack of control but more importantly the gross negligence ... And then at the end I thought the investigation was complete. That they didn't get their due just punishment, and that they were just released; I guess that's why I was frustrated in how that all unfolded.
JONES: Let's go ahead and take a pause here, if you could, and just step out for a minute.
SCOTT: Yes, sir.
Within days of the hearing, I receive a copy of an interview the IG agents had with Commander Mallak and the medical examiner. A reporter who got it through the Freedom of Information Act sent it to me. It angers me that the interview was not given to us with the rest of the interviews. This interview is particularly revealing and upsetting. Commander Mallak tells the IG agent that within a day or two after Pat's autopsy, he and Dr. Carruso had concerns. Dr. Carruso contacted Human Resource Command.
IG AGENT: Okay. What were those concerns?
MALLAK: That the gunshot wounds to the forehead were atypical in nature and that the initial story that we received didn't, the medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described.
IG AGENT: And did he express those concerns just verbally or was it in writing or how?
MALLAK: It was just verbally at first. In fact, we were in this office and we called HRC from here and expressed our concerns.
IG AGENT: And HRC is?
MALLAK: Human Resources Command.
IG AGENT: And where is that?
MALLAK: Down at the Hoffman Building.
IG AGENT: And that's the United States Army?
IG AGENT: Okay, and who did you talk to, do you recall?
MALLAK: [The name is redacted, but we know from reading some unredacted documents that Dr. Carruso and Commander Mallak spoke to Brigadier General Gina Farrisee, the adjutant General], and there were a couple of other folks that she brought into the conversation.
IG AGENT: And that was a day of so after the autopsy was performed?
MALLAK: Within a few days, I can't remember the exact date.
IG AGENT: Okay, what was their response?
MALLAK: They said they didn't think that our concerns were warranted at that time, that, that they had the story, that it made sense to them and they were going to proceed.
During O'Neal's testimony, he makes it clear that he was a hundred percent certain Pat was killed by fratricide. He says his battalion commander, Colonel Bailey, told him not to tell Kevin his brother was killed by friendly fire. He also says Colonel Bailey had him sit at a computer to write a statement about what happened the evening Pat was killed. He tells the committee the statement was changed without his consent and used to support Pat's Silver Star. The inspector general's investigation uncovered that Staff Sergeant Matt Weeks's statement was also altered, and neither statement from Weeks or O'Neal was signed.
Steve White testifies that he is haunted by the fact that he was the person who read the false narrative of Pat's death to the family and the public. "My role as far as at the memorial -- it's a horrible thing that happened with Pat. I'm the guy that told America how he died basically, at that memorial, and it was incorrect. That does not sit well with me." It is repugnant that the government would set up Pat's good friend, an honorable and decorated officer, a Navy SEAL, to deceive the American public. He said he was the given the fraudulent accounting over the phone by someone he thinks was under Kensinger's command.
Committee members are outraged that the inspector general did not follow through to find out who falsified the documents. The investigators found evidence of a cover-up but made no attempt to find out who was responsible.
It seems no one, no matter how determined, can penetrate the lies and deceptions that surround the Bush administration and its institutions.
Every one of you have disregarded your duty, acting deliberately and shamelessly to kill my son and lie about it.... In sum, fuck you and yours.
-- Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman, by Mary Tillman with Narda Zacchino