Rumsfeld On Tillman: I Don’t Recall. I Don’t Remember. I’m Not Responsible.

On page A2 of the Globe today there is a photograph, taken by Chip Somodevilla, during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearings yesterday on the killing of Pat Tillman.

I haven’t been able to find a copy of it to print here, but I believe it is profoundly emblematic of the Iraq war and the people involved. The photo shows Marie Tillman, Pat Tillman’s wife, in sharp focus at the back of the hearing room. In the foreground, slightly out of focus is the face of Donald Rumsfeld. He looks gray. He looks smug and arrogant. Mrs. Tillman looks utterly focused and intense.

If I were Rumsfeld I would not want to face that woman.

The Globe carries a story about the hearing by Erica Werner of the AP.

Naturally none of the people involved in bringing us the Iraq war want to face anything that resembles truth, or fact, or evidence, or any hint that suggests they were wrong, that they have created and continue to nurse a catastrophe of stupidity and immorality.

Four people appeared before the Oversight Committee: Rumsfeld; retired General Richard Myers, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; retired General John P. Abizaid, former Commander of U.S. Central Command; and retired General Bryan D. Brown, former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

All denied any responsibility for the Tillman coverup. Someone else’s fault, of course.

“I know that I would not engage in a coverup. I know that no one in the White House suggested such a thing to me. I know that the gentlemen sitting next to me are men of enormous integrity and would not participate in something like that,” Rumsfeld told (the committee).

Sorry, buddy, but if the military is good at anything, it is good at covering its ass, at hiding its screwups, at covering up for each other. This military is a perfect fit for the Bush administration.

And to imply that the White House has clean hands is beyond laughable. It’s well into painful, prolonged giggling.

Myers testified that it wasn’t his responsibility to notify the Tillman family that Tillman had been killed by friendly fire.

“I don’t think there’s any regulation that would require me to do anything,” said Myers. “This is the responsibility of the United States Army, not of the office of the chairman.”

One could say that might be true technically. But the fact that the military for five weeks pushed the story that Tillman died heroically under enemy fire, that the military sought to benefit from his death by making a dirty war seem noble, puts the responsibility directly into Myers’ lap, and Rumsfeld’s lap. They had a moral obligation to notify the family and the nation immediately on learning the truth.

Rumsfeld and Myers both said they could not remember precisely how or when they learned of Tillman’s death or that it might be friendly fire. Rumsfeld said he did not recall discussing the Tillman issue with the White House until the fratricide became public.

Yeah. Uh-huh. Tillman’s ‘heroic’ death was being pimped by every newspaper and media channel in the country, big and loud, and these guys don’t remember… puhleeze!

Of course Tony Snow stood by these ‘gentlemen’ with his usual phony sincerity. No point in repeating him.

I suspect the best challenge of the day came from Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who asked if there was a strategy in the White House and the Department of Defense to manage the public image of the war.

“Well, if there was, it wasn’t very good,” Rumsfeld remarked.

“Well, you know, maybe it was very good,” Kucinich objected loudly. “Because you actually covered up the Tillman case for a while, you covered up the Jessica Lynch case, you covered up Abu Ghraib, so something was working for you.”

Whereupon Donny got very huffy and denied being involved in ‘any coverup whatsoever’. I think someone in the Bush administration’s public relations office must have told him that huffiness gives the impression of credibility.

The Army did, in its own inimitable way, assign some responsibility. After investigating itself, of course. They blamed retired General Philip Kensinger. And now a review panel of four-star generals will decide if his rank should be reduced.

Say, guys, what are the chances of an independent investigation by people of known honesty and integrity instead of a bunch of CYA Army flacks?

None, you say?

The Bush administration marches on.

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