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PAT TILLMAN'S BROTHER BREAKS HIS SILENCE

By Dave Zirin

kevin tillman photoWhen Pat Tillman, former NFL player and Army Ranger, died in Afghanistan in 2004, it unleashed a drama that moved from tragedy to obscenity to mystery.

First there was Pat's death. Because Tillman wasn't the kind of anonymous fallen soldier the Bush administration could blithely ignore, we all bore witness to the tears of his family - including his brother, best friend, and fellow Army Ranger, Kevin. Pat's death - like every last death that’s resulted from this horrific Middle Eastern escapade - was tragedy. Then came obscenity: it came out after Pat's
funeral, that he had died at the hands of his own troops in a case of "friendly fire". This bit of information was suppressed from everyone outside the Pentagon and Oval Office even from Pat's family. It was even kept from Kevin, serving in Pat's battalion. Eulogists like John McCain - knowingly or unknowingly - told lies over Pat Tillman's body about death in combat. Bush gave a speech about Tillman over the jumbotron at football stadiums. He was given the Silver Star - a merit for combat, not friendly fire. From the perspective of this administration, Pat died
for the noble cause of PR.

Finally from obscenity sprung mystery. For Pat's parents Mary and Pat, Sr. there were unanswered questions. Why were they fed lies? Why were Pat's clothes and equipment burned at the scene? Why wasn’t Kevin told the truth at the scene? What happened to Pat's journal, that he had kept with him for years? To
pressure army investigators, Mary and Pat, Sr. went public about Pat's true feelings about the war in Iraq (he thought it was illegal) and his growing questioning about the Bush "war on terror." Now Pat's brother Kevin has broken his silence as well. Kevin has written a brilliant piece that should be distributed in front of every army recruitment center and sent to every person who wears the uniform. I don't agree with every word, but that's hardly the point: Kevin, like Pat, represents a growing surge in this country against the machinery death and the lies that grease its wheels. We have paid dearly for those lies. It's time to bring the troops home now.

You can email me back at dave@edgeofsports.com

After Pat's Birthday
By Kevin Tillman

It is Pat's birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us
without a voice... until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the
September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to
establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can't be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault
of a few "bad apples" in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping
stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It's interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and
honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don't be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that "somehow" was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat's birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman