The Pat Tillman cover-up, why is no one held accountable when mistakes are made in America?
This is a quick and angry post. I saw this in the headlines this morning:
The story is very simple. Many high ranking officers knew within hours that Pat Tillman’s death was the result of friendly fire, not enemy action. Instead of revealing this, and in direct violation of Army regulations, they kept it secret from his family and the public for five weeks.
How have these officers been punished for violating Army regulations and deceiving America for week? They have been handed pieces of paper that say in effect “you kinda screwed up but don’t worry about it, you’re doing a good job.” This piece of paper will not go in their permanent records, so this is the basic “slap on the wrist” punishment.
This is sort of thing that makes me want to run out into the street, grab people, shake them, and scream “Wake Up!” When the people at the top are immune from consequences no matter how blatantly they screw up, there’s something terribly wrong with the system. And by the system, I mean the US government.
This is by no means the first example of this sort of thing. I mean, name one high ranking officer who has been punished their incompetence or misdeeds? No matter what one thinks about the justification behind the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, virtually everyone in America agrees they have been badly botched. Mistakes have been made people. Yet in every case I can think of, the higher ups responsible escaped censure or were even rewarded for their incompetence. A few foot soldiers get some jail time, Paul Bremer gets the Medal of Freedom.
I dunno, it’s been looking more and more to me that we have built a government that rewards loyalty above all else. This trend has been growing for decades, it started after World War Two with the red scares, flag laws, the pledge of allegiance and other trappings of an Imperial State. Then the whole “America, love it or leave it” attitude that grew later. Now we have a country where our elected representatives seem only concerned with lining their own pockets. Our military concerned with protecting their careers, not our country.
This would not be the first time that an Empire grew so rich that its government became a corrupt bloated incompetent bureaucracy. China, the Ottoman Empire, Austro-Hungary, or Imperial Russia are good analogies just off the top of my head. I like to think that our concern for human rights and other such liberal values make us different and better than these examples, but a case can be made that those are under attack by the instrument, our government, that is supposed to protect them.
And yes, the story above about the whole Tillman fiasco can be “explained away” as just “fog of war” and the codicil that one three star general is going to be more seriously punished. Still, this sort of thing keeps happening over and over, and that’s hard to explain away except as endemic incompetence. I mean, this sort of thing has been happening with uncanny consistency since the Bay of Pigs under Kennedy or the botched hostage rescue mission under Carter, this is by no means an anti-Republican polemic. That’s what scares me.
(The above image of Pat Tillman is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s an historically important image and is not being used for profit. It’s likely a public domain image since it appears to be a military photograph. Credit: US government.)