Whistleblowers come in all shapes and sizes. The reason for coming forward varies as much as what is being revealed. If one blows a whistle in a small company it might cost the whistleblower his/her job. If the whistleblower works for a large corporation or a government entity that person might not only lose his/her job but that person could be “blackballed” and might not be able to get a comparable job with other companies. In some extreme cases consequences could be as severe as death threats, physical injury or even death.
Whistleblower laws have been passed to protect the whistleblower but in reality the laws are not worth the paper they were printed on – especially if the whistleblower is blowing the whistle on our government or large corporations who do significant business with our government – such as Department of Defense contractors.
Governments and large multinational companies wield much power and will do anything and everything to protect their interests – especially when the disclosing of information could result in severe financial consequences, political embarrassment or even legal action.
I am sure many of you have seen the movies Erin Brockovich, Silkwood, Serpico, Syriana, or even Michael Clayton to name a few. Each of these movies show the degree that police departments, corporate conglomerates, and even government agencies will pursue to protect their interests – be it shareholder value, reputation, or to simply maintain the status quo.
Almost immediately the focus is quickly directed at the whistleblower. Companies and governments, whose wrongdoings have been unveiled, try to shift attention to the source as a disgruntled employee. The information that was initially disclosed soon becomes secondary and the media, at the insistence of government and/or large corporations, ostracizes the whistleblower.
Pat Tillman was a whistleblower in the making but the U. S. Government had to treat Tillman quite differently than a “normal” whistleblower. The Administration and DOD had elevated him to “hero” status simply for enlisting in the military. He was their golden boy – someone who walked away from millions for the opportunity to hunt down Osama Bin Laden. He was marketed as a cross between Rambo and G. I. Joe – someone who could do no wrong. He was what being a true American was all about. If Pat Tillman finished his enlistment and became a vocal critic of the government it could prove to be a PR disaster to our never-ending war effort.
Pat Tillman was a lot of things to many people – a star athlete, a loving husband, brother, and son. He excelled in football and he showed his patriotism by walking away from a lucrative NFL contract to enlist in the military.
Millions of men and women have volunteered for military service but Pat Tillman’s choice to enlist was quite unique. He had options. He did not enlist because he was out of a job, nor did he enlist to take advantage of the G. I. Bill – he had his college degree, a promising career, was making big bucks and he had a loving wife and caring family.
He literally had it all.
Did Pat Tillman deserve the label “hero” simply for making a choice to enlist in the military? I think not. I do not believe enlisting makes anyone a hero – a patriot yes, but surely not a hero. What his enlisting did show is the kind of person he was – and how he put family and financial and career pursuits on the back burner to voluntarily serve his country.
I am not sure exactly when Pat Tillman reached his tipping point with our government’s handling of the wars but when it became obvious to military leaders and the Administration it really put them in a quandary. Pat Tillman was becoming quite vocal – he was keeping a diary and he was not shy about sharing his frustrations with his fellow soldiers.
Noam Chomsky, in addition to being a respected author, is one of America’s most prominent dissidents. Pat Tillman was an avid reader who thrived on reading about history and religion and a variety of other subjects. It has been said that Chomsky was one of his favorite authors. Pat’s mother stated that Pat was planning to meet Chomsky after returning from Afghanistan. Needless to say, that meeting never took place.
Official and unofficial descriptions of how Pat Tillman died abound on the Internet. Numerous sites have extensive articles that go into great detail about his unit the day he died and they contain conflicting details surrounding Pat Tillman death.
The Army investigations approximated that the distance between Pat Tillman and his shooter(s) was somewhere between 110 – 120 feet. It has been reported that Pat Tillman stood up and was cut down by a new volley of machine gun fire. Medical examiners have stated that Pat Tillman was killed by three bullets to the forehead in a pattern “about the size of a half dollar”. These same medical examiners took exception to the Army’s “official” distance and stated that they thought the distance was more like 10 – 15 yards away and that Pat Tillman was shot by someone who must have been an “expert” sniper – and one who must have known who he was shooting at. At 15 yards away, even I could differentiate a standing U. S. soldier in combat garbs from an enemy in civilian clothing.
If a potential target is behind an object, such as foliage or rocks and the head is the only target available; I can see shooting that person in the head. To shoot a fully visible standing man three times in the head when that part of the body is the smallest target makes no sense to me at all. I admit I am no longer proficient with rifles and some military manuals might actually recommend headshots. Rangers, as well as other military soldiers, wear bulletproof vests. The enemy in Afghanistan does not wear similar battle gear, so it would have made more sense to aim at the body of a standing target instead of his head.
My most educated guess, after researching literally hundreds of articles, is that Pat Tillman was shot by a sniper or snipers in his platoon using very sophisticated sniper rifles. The head was the chosen target to insure instant death – the body was avoided because of the bulletproof jacket. That being the case, it seems obvious that the person they were shooting at was an American soldier and not an enemy combatant. The question that arises is did these snipers know the American soldier they were shooting at was, in fact, Pat Tillman? I believe the answer to that question is yes.
Various web articles mention that snipers very recently joined his unit. I have also read that some sniper weapons can shoot three bullets in rapid succession with the weapon making only one recoil. This might explain how three bullets hit Pat Tillman in the head so tightly together. Another thing that is seldom focused on is that he was shot in the forehead and NOT in the back of his head – therefore he was looking directly at his executioner – and that his executioner knew his target well.
Army Ranger snipers go through extensive training and can hold their own against mostly anyone but they are no match for Delta snipers who are considered the “crème de la crème” of snipers. If this was planned in advance it makes sense to import snipers to minimize anything going wrong. When you beef up a highly trained unit you import those who will add effectiveness to your unit – otherwise there is no need to increase the size of your unit.
Please keep in mind that Rangers, Seals, Delta snipers, and other highly trained military snipers not only are extremely proficient at shooting to kill, they are also extremely proficient at insure they are shooting at the correct target. If they are shooting at someone in a group, they have to identify the specific high value target and not his driver or his bodyguard. Pat Tillman, the whistleblower-in-the-making, was singled out as being the high value target.
I can see the military trying to cover up a simple case of fratricide if it were an accidental shooting. The Army could get more positive press if they said Pat Tillman were shot by the enemy, but if the shooting was truly accidental, why were Tillman’s body armor and uniform destroyed and why did his diary end up missing? If his body armor also took some hits it could have been examined to assist in showing if more than one shooter was involved. Also, a medical examiner became quite suspicious of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and wanted the Army’s CID to open a criminal investigation. Higher headquarters said “No” to the medical examiner.
Anyone not wanting to accept this theory even as a possibility could simply write off this blog as conspiracy theory and that is fine.
Pat Tillman’s dissatisfaction with the war might have developed incrementally – starting in Iraq and finally peaking in Afghanistan.
After 9/11 our government literally eavesdropped on everyone – emails, phone calls and even other forms of communication. I am sure that Pat Tillman’s vocal outbursts expressing dissatisfaction traveled up the chain of command. Soldiers not in agreement with Tillman’s comments probably shared those outbursts with superiors.
We are all capable of making miscalculations. I have made my share and I will continue doing so. I mean no disrespect to Pat Tillman, but I would like to share my opinion on what I believe to be Pat Tillman’s biggest miscalculation.
As well intended as Pat Tillman was, his miscalculation was in blowing his whistle a little to soon. The wrong people heard it and a decision was made at the highest levels of our military and our government to intentionally stop him before his whistle got too loud.
I would like to extend my sympathies to Pat Tillman’s family, his wife, and to everyone who loved and admired him.