Pat Tillman was killed, perhaps murdered, by “friendly fire” in Afghanistan seven years ago today.
“I’m Pat Tillman! I’m Pat fucking Tillman! Why are you shooting at me?”
With those livid last words, pro-football star and Army Ranger Patrick Daniel Tillman Jr.—who gave up a multimillion-dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to serve his country and become the most famous enlisted man in Afghanistan—died in a fusillade of friendly fire on a rocky hillside near the Pakistani border. The bullets, coming at him from 40 yards away at a rate of 950 rounds per minute, were from a machine gun wielded by a member of his own platoon.
Update May 3: Was Pat Tillman killed in order to keep him quiet? General Wesley Clark thinks it’s a possibility. In a July 2007 interview with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, Clark had this to say about Tillman’s death:
If there’s even a hint that there was something like a homicide or a murder in this case, it should’ve been fully investigated and proved or disproved, and we don’t really know how far up- Was it the Secretary of Defense’s office? Was it the White House? Where did the idea that you shouldn’t give any indication of what happened to Tillman. ‘Just go ahead and go through with the burial ceremony. Give him the Silver Star.’ Where did that- where was that idea blessed? You can be sure that that idea did not originate or stop at the Two- or Three-Star level. That was- someone approved that all the way to the top, because Pat Tillman was a political symbol used by the administration when it suited their purposes.”
Tillman was an intelligent man who, when he realized that the war in Iraq was based on propaganda, deceit and lies, was prepared to return to the States as an outspoken critic of the war. Tillman had contacted Noam Chomsky to plan a joint anti-war statement and support John Kerry’s presidential election campaign. Radical for a soldier, to say the least, and an indication of just how fed up he had become with the path his country was taking in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In March of 2003, Tillman told his buddy Spc. Russell Baer, “You know, this war is so fucking illegal.” He urged his platoon to vote against Bush in the 2004 election. He had gone from being a political asset to the Bush administration to their worst nightmare. Certainly, it would be in the best interest of the war machine to have Tillman eliminated.
In Amir Bar-Lev’s illuminating and heartbreaking The Tillman Story, we are confronted with the horrible truth of how our government manipulates its citizens and sacrifices its young in an effort to wage wars that are not only immoral but criminal.
Pat Tillman died for our sins—the sins of ignorance and blind allegiance to leaders who are nothing less than the embodiment of pure fucking evil. Will we be led into another pointless, endless war in Libya where once again the lines between the good guys and bad guys are so blurred that we don’t even know who to hate anymore? Maybe it’s time to hate ourselves for being weak-willed, spineless sheep. Maybe we deserve to be addressed in the same way that Pat Tillman’s father, Pat Sr., addressed the “investigators” involved in the cover-up of his son’s murder: “fuck you and yours.”
Watch the movie and then take your love for Tillman and your anger and do something with it. You can start by visiting the Pat Tillman Foundation’s website.
Parts two through seven after the jump…