On behalf of the veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and those troops still in theater, I implore you to reconsider your decision to invoke claims of executive privilege in refusing to share vital documents regarding the death of Corporal Pat Tillman with the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
As you know, this week the Associated Press obtained the medical examiner’s finding at the time of his death that Corporal Tillman’s fatal wounds seemed to indicate shots fired from ten yards away, or less. The doctors who examined Corporal Tillman urged a criminal investigation into his death be opened at that time, and were refused. Since that time, the Department of Defense has put forth two explanations for the death of Corporal Tillman, the first of which was proven false, and a second which now seems to have been proven to be a lie, as well. In both cases, the White House has actively pushed these false findings to the public.
Your administration has faithfully shared a number of documents with the committee, but has withheld a number of requested documents under the specious argument that sharing the documents would violate confidentiality among you and your staff. For instance, the Committee has requested a number of communications between senior administration officials and the Pentagon, which may offer important details into the death of Corporal Tillman, and if there was an attempt to cover them up, by some in the Executive Branch.
Respectfully, Sir, when it comes to outright lies conveyed to the public about the death of a soldier – especially one like Corporal Tillman whose service was used as a recruiting poster for the military – there is nothing which cannot be shared with the Legislative Branch or the people.
Confidence in the institution of the military from those within is at stake, the longer you withhold information. The longer questions remain about the death of Corporal Tillman and possible White House involvement in an ensuing cover-up, the more our troops will question whether this government will properly honor their sacrifice and let their families know the truth, if they are killed in action. It is simply impossible for the military to function, if those in its ranks do not have full faith in our leadership up the chain of command, all the way to Washington.
Additionally, by letting questions fester regarding the death of Corporal Tillman, you are placing an undue burden on our recruiters, at a time when our Army and Marine Corps can ill-afford more of a drop off in recruiting. Our military depends on being able to visit homes and gaining the trust of mothers and fathers to allow their 18-year old son or daughter to wear the uniform. What mother would allow her son or daughter to serve a nation she feels will not honor her child’s service?
Finally, as Commander in Chief, you owe the complete and total truth to Corporal Tillman’s mother, Mary Tillman. It is the duty of any officer to write to the families of those under us who were killed, and tell them the entire truth regarding their love one’s death. To lie about any details or withhold any information would not just cause unjust pain to the survivors, but is to dishonor the fallen. As our nation’s top commander, it is your duty to Pat Tillman and his family to release all materials related to his death.
For the good of our military, our troops, the Tillmans, and our nation, I respectfully call on you to comply with all past and future requests of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the matter of the death of Corporal Tillman.
I signed it this weekend. Dear reader, if you support this, you should sign as well.