Watching the documentary in class today reminded me of the Pat Tillman incident 4 or 5 years ago. Pat Tillman was a college football star who decided to enlist in the army instead of entering the NFL draft. For this, he was considered a hero and consequently became one of the most well-known soldiers in Iraq.
Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire in April of 2004, but initial reports claimed he was shot down "in the line of devastating enemy fire." The army faced a ton of controversy for covering the truth in this issue, since The Washington Post published that in the days immediately following Tillman's death, U.S. Army investigators were aware that Tillman was killed by friendly fire. Despite this knowledge, they allowed him to be awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart awards. Therefore, much of the public concluded that this was an elaborate ploy to save face and further perpetuate the heroism and legend of Pat Tillman. Tillman's father remarked, "With respect to the Army's reference to 'mistakes in reporting the circumstances of [my son's] death': those 'mistakes' were deliberate, calculated, ordered (repeatedly), and disgraceful — conduct well beneath the standard to which every soldier in the field is held." The Pentagon released a statement: "...we emphasize that all investigators established the basic facts of CPL Tillman's death -- that it was caused by friendly fire, that the occupants of one vehicle in CPL Tillman's platoon were responsible, and that circumstances on the ground caused those occupants to misidentify friendly forces as hostile. None of the investigations suggested that CPL Tillman's death was anything other than accidental. Our review, as well as the investigation recently completed by Army CID, obtained no evidence contrary to those key findings." After the Pentagon's press release, Tillman's brother remarked, "The deception surrounding this case was an insult to the family: but more importantly, its primary purpose was to deceive a whole nation. We say these things with disappointment and sadness for our country. Once again, we have been used as props in a Pentagon public relations exercise." The army is yet to offer a formal apology.
This would not be the first time the army has tried to cover up reports. Similar cases took place during the search for nuclear weapons of mass destruction in Afghanistan, and torture cases in Guantanamo Bay. The army needs to worry more about their duty of truth to their citizens rather than their public relations.