- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2007


The military has found no criminal wrongdoing in the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, but there were critical errors in reporting the former NFL star’s death, Army and Defense Department investigators concluded yesterday.

The investigators said that officers looking into the incident passed along misleading and inaccurate information and delayed reporting their suspicion that Cpl. Tillman was killed by fellow Rangers. The investigators recommended the Army take action against the officers.

Among those blamed were the three-star general in charge of Army special operations and Cpl. Tillman’s regimental commander.

The investigation also recommended that the Army review its award of the Silver Star to Cpl. Tillman, but the acting secretary of the Army said the award would stand. Defense Department Acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble said some information provided to justify the citation was inaccurate.

The highest current ranking officer blamed in the incident is Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of the Joint Special Operations Command. Investigators said he was “accountable for the inaccurate and misleading assertions” contained in the papers recommending that Cpl. Tillman get the Silver Star.

Investigators said there was no broad cover-up. “We thought there was never an attempt to cover up that we saw,” Mr. Gimble said.

Army investigators described the conclusions as they released a pair of reports into Cpl. Tillman’s 2004 death. The military initially told the public and Cpl. Tillman’s family that the killing occurred during an ambush in a remote part of Afghanistan, but did not say it was caused by members of his own unit.

Cpl. Tillman’s death received worldwide attention because he had walked away from a huge professional football contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the Army after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

“We as an Army failed in our duty to the Tillman family, the duty we owe to all the families of our fallen soldiers: Give them the truth, the best we know it, as fast as we can,” said Acting Army Secretary Pete Geren.

“Our failure in fulfilling this duty brought discredit to the Army and compounded the grief suffered by the Tillman family. For that, on behalf of the Army, I apologize to the Tillman family.”

The Army, he said, will take corrective action and hold people accountable.

He said he had accepted the recommendation of an Army board that Cpl. Tillman’s Silver Star award be affirmed, even though some information submitted in support of it was inaccurate.

“The Silver Star stands,” Mr. Geren said. He added that the citation would be rewritten to correct inaccuracies.

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