AWednesday editorial, "Who Spread False Tales of Heroism?" questioned the Army's awarding of a service medal. No, not John Kerry's - the Times still stands four-square behind its favorite Swift Boat captain - but Cpl. Pat Tillman, who gave up a career in professional football to become an Army ranger and serve in Afghanistan before being killed, not be the enemy, as first reported, but by friendly fire (in the course of seven investigations, several officers have been punished in the case). The Times,not giving up,blamed hyper-patriots in the Bush administration for what the paper suspects is some kind of cover-up by higher-ups.
Widespread - and, we suspect, self-induced - amnesia among high officials of the Bush administration and its Defense Department has made it impossible for House investigators to determine whether top officials helped spread two bogus stories of heroism used to bolster support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It now looks as if we may never know who kept stoking the impression that Cpl. Pat Tillman, an Army Ranger who became an icon of the administration's war on terror, had been killed by the enemy in Afghanistan (in a battle that won him a questionable Silver Star) long after the military knew he had been killed accidentally by fire from American forces.
The Times' discomfort with military trappings is evident in this snotty sentence:
Only after a widely publicized, patriotism-drenched memorial service implying that Corporal Tillman had died heroically, and only after it became clear thatthe true story was coming out, did the military hold a briefing, on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
The Times used the Tillman tragedy to suggest military officials can't always be trusted. Of course, when it comes to Sen. John Kerry, who relied on the five service medals he earned in Vietnam to make his case for the presidency,the paper takes Kerry's word as law, sliming as sleaze-mongersanyone who raises questions aboutthe medals,such as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.