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Pat Tillman never thought of himself as a hero. His choice to leave a multimillion-dollar football contract and join the military wasn't done for any reason other than he felt it was the right thing to do. The fact that the military manipulated his tragic death in the line of duty into a propaganda tool is unfathomable and thoroughly explored in Amir Bar-Lev's riveting and enraging documentary.Written by
Sundance Film Festival
Amir Bar-Lev tried to compress three movies into one: the biography of Pat Tillman, his friendly-fire death in Afghanistan, and his family's battle for the truth about his death. A difficult task; he cut the film from 2 1/2 hours to 94 minutes.
The film is a great introduction to the Pat Tillman story. But, given the time constraints, it doesn't go into much detail. If you want to learn more I'd suggest Mary Tillman's book "Boots on the Ground by Dusk " (at blurb.com) or Jon Krakauer's "Where Men Win Glory" (revised paperback now out; good detail on death and Army's cover-up. Flawed because Krakauer lost trust of most of the family).
See the film. Nearly everything most people think they know about Pat Tillman, his family, and the story is wrong. The Tillman family end up telling much of it. A close knit family with much more honor and integrity than their government. And the movie more humor to it than you would think, especially if you don't mind a few f-bombs; the original title of the film was "I'm Pat ----ing Tillman!" (I would tell you why, but that would be a bit of a spoiler).
. . .
In his "The Fog of War" interview with Jason Guerrasio, Amir Bar-Lev said: " there's been no culpability on the second half of this tragedy, which is the higher ups trying to cover it up. to borrow a football metaphor, they (the Tillman family) ran the ball 99 yards over four years time, they handed it off at the one-yard line to Congress and they fumbled it...."
Shortly after Sundance, Bar-Lev emailed me that "he was pretty hard on the Democratic Congress in his film." True,his film does portray Congressman Waxman's Oversight Committee as ineptly failing to get answers from the top military leadership during their hearing.
However, Bar-Lev's film missed the "untold story" that both the Democratic Congress and the Obama Presidency shielded General Stanley McChrystal from scrutiny and punishment for his central role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death. This cover-up was a thoroughly bi-partisan affair. It wasn't just a case of the Bush administration and the Army stonewalling the Democratic Congress. Congress didn't just "fumble" the ball, they threw the game.
It's not surprising that after their initial cover-up of Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death fell apart, Army officers and the Bush administration lied to protect their careers. But after they took control of both Houses of Congress in 2006, the Democrats (including Congressman Waxman, Senator Levin, Senator Webb, and Senator McCain) could have gone after those responsible. Or at least not promoted them twice!
Just before the 2006 mid-term elections, Kevin Tillman published his eloquent letter, "After Pat's Birthday". Kevin had hoped a Democratic Congress would bring accountability back to our country. But, just as with warrant-less wiretapping and torture, those responsible for the cover-up of his brother's friendly-fire death have never been held accountable for their actions.
Five years ago, Pat Tillman's family were handed a tarnished Silver Star. It was a travesty of justice that President Obama and the Senate promoted General McChrystal to the Army's highest rank, and handed him his fourth star.
Last week I posted at my feralfirefighter blog, "The (Untold) Tillman Story" – President Obama and the Bi-Partisan Congressional Whitewash of General Stanley McChrystal's Cover-up of Pat Tillman's Friendly-Fire Death.
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