Truth revealed at expense of US military's credibility

Fratricide, friendly fire, or "blue on blue" - whatever the term, the accidental killing of fellow soldiers during battle is just something that unfortunately happens in war.

Fratricide, friendly fire, or "blue on blue" - whatever the term, the accidental killing of fellow soldiers during battle is just something that unfortunately happens in war.

As demoralizing to military service members and their families as it may be, it brings no shame necessarily to those who are injured or killed.

But the deceptive omissions and statements issued by the US military regarding the death of US Army Ranger and former NFL star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan and the capture of Jessica Lynch in Iraq, revisited again this week at a US House Government Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, amount to the US military's own self-inflicted wound to its credibility.

The military claims it has thoroughly investigated the facts behind Tillman's death and Lynch's capture - Tillman was killed by a fellow soldier, not "the enemy," and Lynch did not engage in any Rambo-esque fight against her captors - and that no deliberate cover-up or misrepresentation occurred. Some Republican lawmakers blame the media for not getting their facts straight before rushing to print or on air.

But the Army's initial reports about these soldiers, to the cynic, portray a blithe attitude toward their families' feelings in a quest for fortunate PR to buttress the case of the war. It shows how badly inauthentic PR backfires. The truth came out, and Tillman's brother Kevin's testimony was more compelling than any military excuse.

Pentagon officials often complain that the US media fails to tell the "good" stories about Iraq, perpetuating a sense of hopelessness. Lingering questions over the military's past accounts of Tillman's death and Lynch's capture simply provide more ammunition for critics of Pentagon propaganda. But the good news in this case: The public finally gets to hear an unvarnished account of two military heroes - two of many.

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