July 15, 2008

Presidential Propaganda Victimizes Veterans' Families

On the heels of the twisted story of why embedded reporter Zoriah Miller became "unembeded" from Iraq comes this story. You can read his story in the prior post. Perhaps you will agree that these two stories together create a bigger picture and an important glimpse into BushCo's deadly media manipulation game.
Committee says fuzzy memories hurt Tillman probe
By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer 7/15/08
SAN FRANCISCO - A "striking lack of recollection" by White House and military officials prevented congressional investigators from determining who was responsible for misinformation spread after the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, a House committee said Monday.
Although military investigators determined within days that the onetime NFL player was killed by his own troops in Afghanistan following an enemy ambush, five weeks passed before the circumstances of his death were made public. During that time, the Army claimed Tillman was killed by enemy fire.
Rep. Henry Waxman
, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in April 2007 that his goal was to discern the genesis of the misinformation. "Was it the result of incompetence, miscommunication or a deliberate strategy?" [my bold] he said.
[...] The committee reported a similar lack of information relating to misinformation surrounding Pvt. Jessica Lynch, who was rescued from an Iraqi hospital after she was badly injured and captured in a 2003 ambush. The committee examined how the story of the ambush of her convoy was changed into a tale of heroism on her part.
"As the committee investigated the Tillman and Lynch cases, it encountered a striking lack of recollection," the report said.
The panel concluded that the lack of information "makes it impossible for the committee to assign responsibility [my bold] for the misinformation in Corporal Tillman's and Private Lynch's cases."
[...] The White House also failed to determine whether information about Tillman's death was classified, [my bold] the committee found. Tillman's Ranger unit was routinely involved in sensitive operations along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Then-White House communications director Dan Bartlett told the committee he had approved release of the president's statement because of intense news media interest.
[...] Speechwriters and fact-checkers expended hundreds of words in e-mail memos trying to confirm that Tillman and his brother Kevin had joined the Army because of the attacks of Sept. 11, but could not do so, because the brothers had rarely or never spoken publicly about it.
Nevertheless, Bush's remarks to the correspondents' association contained what one White House official admitted was a "speculative" statement by Bush: [my bold] "Friends say that this young man saw the images of September the 11th, and seeing that evil, he felt called to defend America."
[...] The committee also looked into the case of Army Spc. Jesse Buryj of Canton, Ohio. It took nine months for his family to learn that his death in Iraq in May 2004 was not the result of an accidental vehicle crash as they were first told. He was killed by fire from U.S. or Polish soldiers in Karbala after a dump truck hurtled through a checkpoint and crashed into the armored vehicle in which he was riding.
Buryj's parents accepted an invitation to meet Bush at a July 2004 campaign rally. They told investigators they had pressed Bush to help them find answers about their son's death, and said Bush agreed to help.
"A few months later, a Bush-Cheney campaign official contacted the family," the congressional investigators found. "Rather than offer assistance, the official asked Specialist Buryj's mother to appear in a campaign commercial for the president. Mrs. Buryj refused."

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