Shock – Shock! – but No Awe in Tillman Probe

Pat Tillman, the NFL player who gave up a multi-million dollar career to fulfill what he saw as his patriotic duty to his country, was killed by “friendly fire” in Afghanistan nearly three years ago.  Rather than tell the truth, the Bush regime sought to exploit his death for their benefit; nothing punches-up a national tragedy like putting a well-known human face on it.

As the details of Tillman’s death are uncovered, it’s becoming more and more apparent that his death and the lies surrounding it – while tragic and scandanlous – are very likely just one piece of a much larger puzzle of military corruption and incompetence rooted in Donald Rumsfeld’s and Dick Cheney’s failed “shock and awe” strategy.

According to the Accociated Press, Tillman’s fellow soldiers did not follow the most basic firearms protocols during the incident, essentially shooting at anything that moved with automatic weapons.  One of the soldiers had apparently only recently had eye surgery, and their squad leader apparently forgot our Afghan allies are armed with AK-47s:

One of the four shooters, Staff Sgt. Trevor Alders, had recently had PRK laser eye surgery. He said although he could see two sets of hands “straight up,” his vision was “hazy.” In the absence of “friendly identifying signals,” he assumed Tillman and an allied Afghan who also was killed were enemy.

Another, Spc. Steve Elliott, said he was “excited” by the sight of rifles, muzzle flashes and “shapes.” A third, Spc. Stephen Ashpole, said he saw two figures, and just aimed where everyone else was shooting.

Squad leader Sgt. Greg Baker had 20-20 eyesight, but claimed he had “tunnel vision.” Amid the chaos and pumping adrenaline, Baker said he hammered what he thought was the enemy but was actually the allied Afghan fighter next to Tillman who was trying to give the Americans cover: “I zoned in on him because I could see the AK-47. I focused only on him.”

All four failed to identify their targets before firing, a direct violation of the fire discipline techniques drilled into every soldier.

Keep in mind that this was an “elite” Army Ranger unit, not rank-and-file troops, and that in the nearly three years since the incident occured, the Pentagon has lowered the bar for incoming soldiers to the point where criminals, high school drop-outs, drug users, and avowed white supremacists are now accepted, processed, armed, and turned loose in Iraq and Afghanistan (yet decorated veterans – some of whom speak Arabic fluently – are still drummed-out of the service if they happen to be gay).

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