The Defense Department's inspector general has concluded that
as many as nine officers are responsible for mistakes and irregularities
during the investigation into the "friendly fire"
death of former NFL player Pat Tillman in Afghanistan in 2004,
problems that led to major delays and errors in explaining the
facts to his family and the public, defense officials said yesterday.
The report is scheduled for public release on Monday, when
Tillman's family also expects to receive a briefing in California.
Members of Tillman's immediate family have been fighting for
nearly three years to learn the truth about the case, amid a
series of investigations into why his death was initially reported
as occurring during a heroic attack on enemy fighters when instead
the soldiers in his unit knew immediately that he died when
they mistakenly shot him in a dusty canyon pass.
Officials yesterday declined to discuss specifics of the report
but said the inspector general identified a range of problems,
including minor errors in procedure up to allegations of officers
making deliberately misleading statements about the case. One
defense official said the report includes generals among the
officers identified as having made errors in judgment. CBS News
and the Associated Press reported last night that as many as
four generals are blamed.
"The inspector general determined the Army needs to go
back and review the actions that were taken by nine individuals,"
said a defense official who spoke anonymously because the report
has not yet been released. "The Army could have done this
better, starting from when there first began to be an indication
that it was a friendly-fire situation."
Earlier investigations found significant problems with the
way the Army handled the aftermath of Tillman's death, such
as soldiers destroying his uniform and body armor and officers
providing the family a fictitious story about the incident until
after Tillman's nationally televised funeral in May 2004.
Tillman, a popular player with the Arizona Cardinals, gave
up a major pro contract to join the Army after the Sept. 11,
2001, attacks kindled his desire to serve his country. Tillman's
family has long maintained that the Army fabricated a heroic
story of the former football player being gunned down while
storming a hill in order to foster a patriotic response from
The Army requested the independent review in June 2005 amid
other probes into Tillman's death. The Tillman episode and other
friendly-fire cases handled with similar missteps -- with families
learning the truth only after pressing the Army following incorrect
initial reports -- prompted the Army to rework its casualty-notification
and death-investigation procedures. Army officials vowed to
continue trying to improve.
"The Army plans to take appropriate actions after receiving
the Inspector General's report," Army officials said in
a statement yesterday. "The Army has not yet officially
received the report from the Department of Defense Inspector