Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pat Tillman: a start but more accountability

So they've decided to go a pretty far distance up the chain of command in the Pat Tillman case, up to Lt. Gen Philip Kensinger, who was in charge of special forces until he retired last year. They have yet to decide whether a fairly sharp reprimand is enough or whether to strip him of his third star -- which would mean his retirement pay would decline by about $900 a month -- from $9,400 a month. More evidence that "public servants" are a pampered class financially. I remember when the argument was that government employees needed job security and rules that made it almost impossible to fire them because they were paid poorly relative to private-sector employees. No more. They're the ruling class in almost every way now.

I'm sure the government hopes this will be the end of it, but I suspect it's just the beginning. Army Secretary Pete Geren insisted it was just mistakes, that there was no cover-up, and the news stories I have seen report that it was accidental "friendly fire" as if that were an established fact. With the stuff coming out in the last few days -- three bullet wounds in the forehead, probably fired from 10 yards, etc. -- it's looking less and less established.

There's a hearing in the House tomorrow at which Rumsfeld is supposed to testify and to which Kensinger has been subpoenaed. I don't expect anything resembling real candor (as opposed to the faux candor he has mastered) from Rumsfeld. But it should be interesting.

Is the Tillman case a metaphor for the dishonesty -- or refusal to acknowledge the truth when a conmforting myth was easier -- for the war in Iraq and perhaps for the Bush approach to terrorism? Maybe so. I hope it catches public imagination.

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