Pat Tillman went from being a NFL star to a US military hero. The Army Ranger was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire in 2004. More than 6 years after Tillman's death, documentaries and books continue to delve into the life and death of the former Arizona Cardinal. Katy Clark has more.
MARCO WERMAN: Perhaps the best-known American casualty of the war in Afghanistan was Pat Tillman. He was the former NFL player who enlisted in the Army after 9/11. His death in 2004 triggered numerous investigations after the Army initially failed to make clear that Tillman was the victim of friendly fire. As The World's Katy Clark reports, some are still wondering what happened six years later.
KATY CLARK: A new film called The Tillman Story revives debate over whether the Army participated in a cover-up following Pat Tillman's death on a hillside in Afghanistan.
FEMALE SPEAKER: All the generals were lying.
MALE SPEAKER: We can't be sure. I can't tell you. It's a guess. I don't know. I don't recall precisely how I learned that he was killed. This goes pretty damn high.
FEMALE SPEAKER: To find out that the military were the very people [INDISCERNIBLE]. It's outrageous.
CLARK: Director Amir Bar-Lev intersperses footage of Tillman's football career and family photos with interviews of soldiers who were with Tillman when he was shot. One of those soldiers says he was ordered to keep quite about what really happened to Tillman. That order ate away at him as he accompanied Tillman's body home to California. The film's debut coincides with the paperback release of author Jon Krakauer's 2009 account of Pat Tillman's life and death entitled, Where Men Win Glory. Krakauer says the public image of Tillman as the icon of post-9/11 patriotism doesn't begin to describe who he really was.
JON KRAKAUER: He was a really complicated person. You can't pigeon-hole Pat Tillman.
CLARK: Krakauer says Tillman agonized over how his decision to enlist was hurting his family. Tillman was also conflicted about the war in Iraq. He did a tour there before being deployed to Afghanistan. Here's Krakauer reading from one of Tillman's journal entries from early 2003. The passage refers to someone named Nub. That's Tillman's younger brother, Kevin, who'd enlisted along with him.
KRAKAUER: It may be very soon that Nub and I will be called upon to take part in something I see no clear purpose for. Were our case for war even somewhat justifiable, no doubt many of our traditional allies would be praising our initiative. However, every leader in the world with a few exceptions is crying foul. As is the voice of much of the people. This leads me to believe that we have little or no justification either than our imperial whim. Of course, Nub and I have willingly allowed ourselves to be pawns in this game and we'll do our job whether we agree with it or not. All we ask is that it is duly noted that we harbor no allusions of virtue.
CLARK: Krakauer says Tillman also seemed to harbor no allusions about how he was being used by the Bush Administration as a PR tool to promote the war. Krakauer quotes a bunkmate of Tillman's in Iraq named Jade Lane. Lane says Tillman told him that he was afraid that if something were to happen to him, the White House would make a big deal out of it and parade him through the streets. In the end, there weren't any parades. But Tillman's memorial service became a nationally televised event. Here's his youngest brother, Richard, speaking at the service.
RICHARD TILLMAN: Thank you for coming. Pat's a *** champion and always will be. Just make no mistake; he'd want me to say this. He's not with God, he's *** dead. He's not religious, so. Thanks for you thoughts but he's *** dead.
CLARK: The entire Tillman family was devastated by their loss. Their grief was compounded by the way the Army seemed to have misled the family and the public for weeks about the circumstances surrounding his death. His mother, Mary Tillman, has been relentless in her pursuit of the truth. Numerous congressional hearings and official inquiries have been held since the 2004 friendly fire incident. Still, she says she doesn't believe she's been given satisfactory answers as to how her son died, or why the circumstances surrounding his death were reported incorrectly for so long. Here's Mary Tillman speaking last week on CNN's Larry King Live.
MARY TILLMAN: Through the congressional hearing, the first congressional hearing, we do know that there was indeed a cover-up. The oversight committee deemed that there was. But Congress dropped the ball when it came time to find out who was actually accountable.
CLARK: One of those the Tillman's suspect is at fault is retired Army General Stanley McChrystal. McChrystal had been Special Operations Commander when Tillman was killed. McChrystal submitted paperwork to award Tillman the Silver Star that wrongly suggested that the former football star was the victim of enemy fire. McChrystal later apologized for not being more careful in submitting the citation. He said, though, that he never intended to mislead anyone. But Jon Krakauer maintains that McChrystal was one of ?the most culpable malfeasants? in the cover-up surrounding Pat Tillman's death.
KRAKAUER: He should have been court-martialed. It was an offense that if it had happened to a lesser officer he could have been given a dishonorable discharge and incarcerated for five years for making a false official statement.
CLARK: General McChrystal declined requests to comment for this story. But Army spokesman, Colonel Tom Collins, offered this.
TOM COLLINS: The Army regrets the pain and the suffering that we caused the Tillman family as a result of the shortfall in providing them accurate information. The circumstances around Corporal Tillman's death have been investigated numerous times by the Army and the Department of Defense. These investigations found certain people responsible for those shortfalls in information. But in the case of General McChrystal, his actions were carefully examined and they were found to be reasonable under the circumstances and that no disciplinary action was warranted.
CLARK: Mary Tillman recently said that she doesn't want any more hearings or inquiries into her son's death. She knows it's unhealthy to keep pushing, and she said Pat wouldn't have wanted that for his family. Still, if any new information were to arise she says the family would take up the cause again. For The World, this is Katy Clark.
WERMAN: You can read what people around the world are saying about Pat Tillman live on our site, through Twitter. Just go to TheWorld.org.