McChrystal resurrected? Not so fast, says Pat Tillman's mom.



Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a hero fired for a minor flap, is brought back into the fold, made useful again as the co-chair of a White House initiative on military families.

All is well with the world again, right?

Not according to Pat Tillman’s mom.

Mary Tillman told ABC News that McChrystal was part of the coverup of her NFL-star turned Army Ranger son’s friendly fire death seven years ago.

Mrs. Tillman has been dogging McChrystal over the years, saying she was vindicated by his firing over impolitic comments to a Rolling Stone reporter,  blasting his appointment to a teaching job at Yale — and now his appointment to an advisory commission on military families.

She tells ABC News that “someone who has a heartfelt desire to help families would not have been involved in the cover-up of a soldier’s death, especially one that they used to promote a war.”

McChrystal — who declined comment to ABC News — was the commander of special operations in Afghanistan when Tillman was killed in April 2004. Soon after McChrystal wrote his commanders an urgent memo that, “It is highly possible that Corporal Tillman was killed by friendly fire.”

Having heard President George W. Bush might speak publicly about Tillman, McChrystal wrote to his higher ups to make sure they knew the truth so as to “preclude any…public embarrassment if the circumstances of Corporal Tillman’s death become public.”

Tillman notes that McChrystal wrote “if this becomes public this could be an embarrasment to the administration. He didnt say ‘when’ this becomes public, ‘when’ we tell the family. So there was going to be an effort to cover this up.”

At the same time McChrystal was sending that confidential memo, he was part of the propaganda effort pushing a false narrative about Tillman’s death, the family charges.

He signed off on a Silver Star citation that is worded quite misleadingly, noting how “Corporal Tillman put himself in the line of devastating enemy fire” and in the next sentence referencing how Tillman, “(w)hile mortally wounded”” demonstrated “audacious leadership and courageous example under fire…”

At no point does the Silver Star citation that McChrystal signed even hint that the mortal wounds came from American guns.

Is it hypocritical to name a guy who lied to the Tillman family about the nature of their son’s death to a group dedicated to families?

Others agree with the Tillmans, including Amir Bar-Lev, the director of the critically-acclaimed documentary “The Tillman Story.”

“Putting Stanley McChrystal in charge of a commission on military families is a little like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of a commission on pensions,” said Bar-Lev.

While we’re on the topic, what do you make of the military’s track record when it comes to sharing information with families?

[via ABC News , LA Times, NY Daily News, WaPo]



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  1. I strongly agree with Mrs. Tillman. McChrystal is a very poor choice to represent military families. McChrystal is undeserving of our respect.

  2. @ Tricky Dick: Sec Def Gates: “no single American has inflicted more fear and more loss of life on our country’s most vicious and violent enemies than Stan McChrystal”


  3. Gen McChrystal, much like Gen Petraeus, is far more respected by the media than anyone in the military. Both are very good at taking credit for the hard work of others. McChrystal is, frankly, an embarassment, but he and the President deserve each other.

  4. McChrystal, is highly respected in the ranks–especially in the Special Ops community– and the one thing you can count on is that he will not mince words when it comes to giving his opinion. As an army wife, I am truly sorry for the Tillman’s loss and for the way his death was handled. However, enough is enough! Our family can sympathize with their experience, I am tired of the Tillman family taking EVERY opportunity to criticize our mil leadership. At first I respected their fight for justice, but now I am left to wonder what’s the purpose of their criticism–selling books perhaps?

  5. Retired Army Officer on

    Mrs. Tillman, your son was a fine man and soldier. You need to allow him to rest in peace by stop talking to the media. The world knows your feelings about GEN McChrystal. There are many others, who have commanded, who know how difficult these decisions are. Stop the interviews, please. Allow the retired General to serve as he and our President see fit.


  6. Check it out: if this were a public figure outside of the government, who was exposed by internal memo’s to be a part of a cover up – the media would have him fried, and nobody would disagree. However, I have been there and done that. I’ve worked both sides, and there is no difference in support amongst the troops. Most don’t know who he is, other than a name in the paper! The same goes for almost every other political agenda. Sensationalized media is another addition to murphy being a mf’r. Most people just don’t realize it. I am going to assume that Tricky Dick, Old Guy, and JM Gavin all have combat experience like myself; it’s interesting how different impressions can be when formed by experience versus Facebook hearsay.

  7. HH6-that was very disrespectful. Until you have lost a son or a daughter you have no right to impose a statute of limitations on someone’s grief or rage. Citing ulterior motives undercuts true political discourse. Your title implies you are a spouse; I suspect you are a mother or a father, too. Tell me, if anyone hurt a member of your family, or desecrated their memory, would you fight until your dying breath to exact revenge?

  8. Okay, this has gone far enough. The Army tried to protect his memory and you call it a “cover up.” Okay. I guess we will tell every parent how their kid helped themselves get killed by their own dumb@$$ decisions like it was some traffic accident after the prom!

  9. In her paperback edition of “Boots on the Ground by Dusk” (at Mary Tillman wrote:

    “McChrystal’s actions should have been grounds for firing. That is why it was so disturbing to us when President Obama instead promoted McChrystal to the position of top commander in Afghanistan last year. I had sent the President an email and a letter reminding him of McChrystal’s involvement in the cover-up of Pat’s death.”

    “I also contacted the staffs of Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator James Webb and expressed my concerns. I had several conversations with members of the staffs of both senators, but it was clear that neither senator wanted to get involved.” … [Senator]McCain was already publicly endorsing the McChrystal appointment before the hearing even began. … Sadly, McChrystal’s promotion had been sanctioned long before the hearing. None of the congressmen pressed McChrysal about Pat’s case … or detainee abuse and torture at Camp Nama …”

    “Over the last five years, the Pentagon and Congress have had numerous opportunities to hold accountable those responsible for the cover-up of Pat’s death. Each time they’ve failed. … The Tillman Story illustrates the corruption, deception, and indifference that is systemic in our government.

    … The cover-up of Pat’s death was orchestrated at the very highest levels of the Pentagon, and elsewhere in our government … the government didn’t just lie to us; it lied to a nation.”

  10. Just a couple weeks before the 7th anniversary of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death on April 22, 2004, his mother Mary Tillman is outraged by yet another slap in her face by President Obama’s appointment of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as advisor of the new program “Joining Forces.”

    In May 2004, Gen. McChrystal supervised the writing of Pat Tillman’s fraudulent Silver Star and falsified witness statements, and the cover-up of his friendly-fire death by the Ranger RGT officers.

    Over the next five years, the ensuing Army & Congressional “investigations” were part of the bi-partisan whitewash which “exonerated” Gen. McChrystal and others involved of wrong-doing.

    Besides the Bush Administration, some of the more prominent figures involved in the whitewash include: Senator McCain, Senator Webb, Senator Levin, Congressman Waxman, President Obama, NYT reporter Thom Shanker, Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and CNAS’s Andrew Exum.

    To learn more, I’d suggest Mary Tillman’s book “Boots on the Ground by Dusk” (revised paperback edition with a new forward at, Jon Krakauer’s paperback edition “Where Men Win Glory” (although a flawed bio, it has details on McChrystal’s role in the Army’s cover-up), the fine documentary “The Tillman Story,” and my Feral Firefighter blog at

    Last June, I posted “The Emperor’s General” which discussed President Obama’s role in the whitewash of Gen. McChrystal. Last August, I posted “The [Untold] Tillman Story” which discussed how a bi-partisan Congressional effort shielded McChrystal from accountability (and also the role of NYT reporter Thom Shanker and CNAS’s Andrew Exum).

    Ironically, although Center for a New American Security (CNAS) will run the “Joining Forces” program, their Fellow Andrew Exum contributed to McChrystal’s whitewash with his biased book review of Jon Krakauer’s book for the Washington Post (he failed to fully disclose his professional and personal conflicts of interests with McChrystal).

    And here’s an excerpt from his June 2, 2009 post “Confirm Him” blogging as Abu Mugawama ( “The bottom line is, nothing is ever going to heal the wounds inflicted on the Tillman Family … And while I have nothing but respect for the Tillman Family…, their personal grief should not be a veto on the nomination of the man [Gen. Stanley McChrystal] … These are serious questions and are more important than either the death of Pat Tillman or the alleged abuse of detainees.”

    Considering their past betrayal of the Tillman family, it appears that Gen. McChrystal and CNAS are a poor choice to run the “Joining Forces” program to take care of our military veterans and their families.

  11. Who was responsible for the “Made in China”, US Army black berets?

    Who’s is responsible for the Army Rangers’ light brown berets?

    Interesting the Army went from light brown dress shirts / light brown ties WW2, to light green dress shirts / black ties (who’s responsible ?) and then goes from black berets to light brown berets for elite soldiers.

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