Yesterday, Iraq war veteran Jon Soltz wrote on ThinkProgress about Pat Tillman: “Was the man the White House used to promote the war ordered to be killed because he was becoming increasingly critical of the war in Iraq?”
Last night on MSNBC’s Countdown, host Keith Olbermann noted that “Corporal Tillman held a number of personal views that were unpopular within the context of the Bush administration, perhaps also within the Army.” Tillman reportedly favored John Kerry in the presidential election, opposed the invasion of Iraq, and had plans to meet with Noam Chomsky.
The Associated Press reported that in the last moments before Tillman died, another soldier was hugging the ground at Tillman’s side, and Tillman said, “Would you shut your [expletive] mouth? God’s not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling — “
The question of whether Tillman was killed for his political views lingers greater than ever. Appearing on MSNBC’s Countdown, Soltz said:
We know he was a free thinker. But it leads you to think was this guy killed possibly by people that didn’t like his political views or was he killed accidentally? We had a time in the war when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in April 2004 in Iraq; we had basically the Iraqi Tet offensive where the Shiite militias rose up and the contractors were burned at the stake; the President was facing the election and he decided not to go into Fallujah for six months. Did they use him to justify, politically, bad policy in Iraq?
The confluence of these factors intensify the need for openness. Despite being warned that Tillman may have died by friendly fire, Bush referenced Tillman in a 2004 speech but made no reference to how he died. The White house has cited executive privilege in refusing to turn over records that would verify how much Bush knew.
Soltz wrote on ThinkProgress that the longer this case lingers, the more damaging it will be to the military: “Those already in the military will lose faith that the leadership actually gives a damn about them, as the Tillman case becomes a hot topic in chow halls. Morale and confidence in the institution will crumble.”
UPDATE: Some commenters incorrectly understand Soltz’s argument to be that the White House had some involvement in or prior knowledge about the death. That is not what is being alleged. Rather, the question is whether Tillman’s political views played any role in motivating the person who shot him. And did the administration subsequently cover up the motive for Tillman’s death?