Saturday, July 14, 2007

Executive Privlage to conceal the truth about Pat Tillman's Death

Panel Demands Records on Tillman's Death
House Committee Accuses Administration of Withholding Key Documents on Tillman Death

You can just see President Bush asking Vice President Cheney what he should do about this Tillman problem. Cheney smiles and rubs his hands together :" Just say no. Executive privilege.

President Bush:: Heh, Heh, good idea Dick.

And is just what they have done.

Withholding key documents -Why?

Two influential lawmakers investigating how and when the Bush administration learned the circumstances of Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death and how those details were disclosed accused the White House and Pentagon on Friday of withholding key documents and renewed their demand for the material.

The White House and Defense Department have turned over nearly 10,000 pages of papers mostly press clippings but the White House cited "executive branch confidentiality interests" in refusing to provide other documents.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Tom Davis, R-Va., the committee's top-ranking Republican, said Friday the documents were inadequate. They insisted that the Defense Department turn over the additional material by July 25 and asked that the White House do likewise.

Killed April 22, 2004, by friendly (?) fire in Afghanistan.

Tillman, a San Jose native, turned down a lucrative contract with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals to join the Army following the Sept. 11 attacks. He was killed April 22, 2004, by friendly fire in Afghanistan.

Public Lied to at first

Although Pentagon investigators determined quickly that he was killed by his own troops, five weeks passed before the circumstances of his death were made public. During that time, the Army claimed he was killed by enemy fire.

Tillman's family and others have said they believe the erroneous information peddled by the Pentagon was part of a deliberate cover-up that may have reached all the way to President Bush and then-Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. The committee said Friday it had scheduled a second hearing on Tillman's death for Aug. 1, this time to probe what senior Pentagon officials knew and when.

Rumsfeld and Richard Myers, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were among those the committee invited Friday to appear.

The White House has turned over nearly 1,100 pages of documents and the Defense Department nearly 8,500 pages since the committee requested information from them in April, part of an inquiry into why Tillman's family and the public were misled.

"The document production from the White House sheds virtually no light on these matters," Waxman and Davis wrote to White House counsel Fred Fielding, part of a renewed request for additional papers.

because they implicate executive branch

The committee made public a letter last month in which Fielding said the White House was holding back certain papers "because they implicate executive branch confidentiality interests." He added the White House had blacked out portions of "purely internal e-mails between White House personnel."

The White House's argument for withholding some papers is the same one it used last month as it rejected congressional subpoenas for documents in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. Executive "confidentiality" is a lesser claim than "executive privilege" more a polite way of declining than a firm refusal and thus still leaves room for negotiation, congressional staffers involved in the matter said.

Fielding added the White House had blacked out portions of "purely internal e-mails between White House personnel."

Waxman and Davis fired back that "these are not appropriate reasons for withholding the documents from the committee." And they charged that the White House had simply held other papers back.

In particular, they expressed doubt that the two documents they'd received on communications between the White House and Pentagon on Tillman's death were the only ones of their kind. One was simply a packet of newspaper clippings.

"Corporal Tillman's death was a major national story," they wrote. "It is not plausible that there were no communications between the Defense Department and the White House about Corporal Tillman's death."

"The committee was fully aware that certain documents were withheld as our letter to them made clear last month along with our offer to discuss possible accommodation that meets the committee's interests while respecting separation of powers principles," Blair Jones, a White House spokesman, said Friday evening. "We continue to offer an opportunity for the committee to move forward in a spirit of accommodation, rather than conflict."

Waxman and Davis complained to Defense Secretary Robert Gates of a "failure to provide a complete production to the committee." For instance, the committee received no documentation on how Rumsfeld learned of Tillman's death.

They said the Pentagon had not produced any papers from, among others, the offices of Gen. John Abizaid, then head of Central Command.

A week after Tillman died, a top general sent a memo to Abizaid warning that it was "highly possible" that Tillman was killed by friendly fire. The memo made clear that the information should be conveyed to the president. The White House said there is no indication that Bush received the warning.

Two days later, the president mentioned Tillman in a speech to the White House correspondents dinner, but he made no reference to how Tillman had died.

A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

Separately, Waxman asked the Republican National Committee for copies of e-mail communications that involved Tillman and White House officials. That request was an outgrowth of the oversight committee's finding last month that 88 White House officials had e-mail accounts with the RNC, and that the administration may have committed extensive violations of a law requiring that certain records be preserved.

Chairman Waxman responds

Today Chairman Waxman and Ranking Minority Member Davis sent a letter to the White House objecting to the withholding of documents related to the death of U.S. Army Corporal Patrick Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. As a result of deficient responses from both the White House and Defense Department, the Committee also announced an August 1 hearing to examine what senior Defense Department officials knew about Corporal Tillman’s death.

Following the Committee’s April 24, 2007, hearing on the Tillman fratricide, the Committee wrote to White House Counsel Fred Fielding seeking “all documents received or generated by any official in the Executive Office of the President” relating to Corporal Tillman’s death. The White House Counsel’s office responded that it would not provide the Committee with documents that “implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests” and produced only two communications with the officials in the Defense Department, one of which was a package of news clippings. The response of the Defense Department to the Committee’s inquiry was also deficient.

The next date in the battle with the White House : July 25, 2007

In response to the deficiencies in the White House and Defense Department productions, Chairman Waxman and Ranking Member Davis today sent letters to White House Counsel Fred Fielding and Defense Secretary Robert Gates requesting complete document production by July 25, 2007.

Oh, and how about copies of emails wrongly controlled by the Republican National Committee?

Chairman Waxman also wrote the Republican National Committee to request communications about Corporal Tillman’s death by White House officials using e-mail accounts controlled by the RNC.

In addition, the Oversight Committee announced that a hearing will be held on Wednesday, August 1, 2007, to investigate what senior officials at the Defense Department knew about Corporal Tillman’s death.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

Other notes about Pat Tillman

Katie Couric's Notebook: Pat Tillman

Pat's brother gives evidence under oath of how they lied when his brother died.

When Bruce Snyder, Pat Tillman’s football coach at Arizona State University, told Pat he planned to redshirt him as a freshman—extending his eligibility for a year but also necessitating an additional year in college—Tillman said, "You can do whatever you want with me, Coach, but in four years, I’m gone. I’ve got things to do with my life."

And Tillman wasn’t kidding. Through sheer drive and determination, he turned an overachieving college career into a long shot at NFL stardom, becoming a late-round pick by the hometown Cardinals in the 1998 draft. Not only did the rookie make it through his first training camp, he eventually earned a starting role and, over time, became one of the league’s top players at his position.

But Tillman’s will to succeed was not confined to the football field. Deeply affected by the horrific events of September 11, 2001, he turned down a $3.6 million contract offer from the Cardinals, quit the NFL and, with his brother Kevin, enlisted in the army for a nation at war. Not just any army unit, either, but the hardcore, hard-as-nails Rangers, training for dangerous special-ops combat that would eventually put him in harm’s way in the sands of Iraq and, later, in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.

Real heroes never think of themselves as heroes. They see themselves as ordinary people performing acts any other right-minded person would do if in their shoes. Save the baby from the burning house. Jump into the foxhole and sprawl across the bodies of your buddies, shielding them from the grenade’s flying shrapnel. Bust down the cockpit door of your hijacked jetliner and dive the plane into the ground before it can crash into the U.S. Capitol. True heroes are ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

Pat Tillman was just such an American hero, killed in action on April 22, 2004. I’ve Got Things to Do with My Life is the inspirational story of this exceptionally heroic life of victory and valor.

1 comment:

Vigilante said...

It's not clear to me that Tillman was "executed". OTOH, questions abound:

1) Who killed Pat Tillman?
2) Why was Pat Tillman killed?
3) Who covered up the Truth?
4) What did the president know and when did he know it?
5) Why does he resort - yet again - to executive privilege?

If the Bushopranos have nothing to hide, why do they hide everything?

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