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Scheer's 'Friendly Fire' Assertions Are Off Base

June 03, 2005

Re "A Cover-Up as Shameful as Tillman's Death," Commentary, May 31: Robert Scheer claims that the Bush administration created a sham of Army Ranger Pat Tillman's death "after months of increasingly damaging reports exposing the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and cover-up."

This assertion seems downright impossible in light of the fact that former NFL star Tillman died April 22, 2004, nearly one week before CBS first aired the Abu Ghraib scandal on April 28. Only hours after his death, the sad news of Tillman's sacrifice and loss had reached millions. A few weeks later, the Army acknowledged on May 29, 2004, that Tillman probably was killed by "friendly fire." Is Scheer so driven to besmirch the Bush administration that he has to invent a hoax of his own? Scheer's tale of a cover-up rings hollow.

Dave Pierre



Scheer's article implies that a soldier who is killed by friendly fire is somehow a lesser hero to be celebrated than if he had been killed by the enemies he was fighting. One wonders how Tillman would feel about his parents' outrage that the circumstances of his death were not immediately attributed to his own comrades. He is a true hero, as are all who give their lives in combat, regardless of the details.

Death by friendly fire is a common part of warfare. In World War II, my own brother, Lt. Claude Rothell Jr., was killed by U.S. mortars as he and two others were trying to rescue a wounded member of their platoon. (All four were killed.) Civil War Gen. William Sherman famously said, "War is hell." It is time for us to accept that and quit nitpicking the actions of our armed forces.

Fred Rothell


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