Wednesday, April 25, 2007

US military lies to public to fan war

Truth about Abu Ghraib prison scandal is coming out 25/04/2007 A pair of high-profile American army figures revealed the military was spreading outright lies and manipulating their stories for a hero-starved public, during testimony before Congress Tuesday. One was Kevin Tillman, the brother of a football star killed by "friendly fire" in occupied Afghanistan three years ago, who said the military lied about the circumstances of his death to avoid a public relations fiasco and to draw attention from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The other was Jessica Lynch, a female soldier who decried her inaccurate portrayal as a "little girl rambo," firing her weapon down to the last bullet before being captured by Iraqis in early 2003, and then daringly saved by American forces nine days later. "It was not true ... I'm still confused as to why they choose to lie and try to make me a legend," she told the house government reform committee hearing on "misleading information from the battlefield." Lynch was 19 when her convoy was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Nasiriyah. Eleven of the occupation soldiers with her died in the attack. Lynch told of Iraqi doctors' attempts to care for her while she lay partially paralyzed from her injuries. Lynch had not been firing a weapon at the time of the ambush, just riding in a truck. She said her testimony was not politically motivated, but that she felt the real story of what happened should get out. Kevin Tillman told the congressional hearing that family members initially believed the American military's accounts that his brother, Pat Tillman, fought valiantly to the death during a firefight in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. "Our family was told that he was shot in the head by the enemy in a fierce fire fight outside a narrow canyon," Kevin said. But he said they felt shock and betrayal upon learning several weeks later that the national football league star was apparently killed by over-zealous members of his own platoon. "Pat's death was clearly the result of fratricide. It was due to a series of careless actions by several individuals in our own platoon after a small harassing ambush," said Kevin. In the hours immediately after his brother's death, "crucial evidence was destroyed - including Pat's uniform, equipment and notebook," he said. "The autopsy was not done according to regulation and the field hospital report was falsified." The Pentagon last month called for action against a three-star general and eight other army officers for their handling of Tillman's death. House Democrat and panel member Henry Waxman accused the government of making up sensational details and stories and said he hoped the hearing could begin to right those wrongs.

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