• Today as the death toll climbs after a suicide bomber detonated himself at a crowded police recruiting station in an Iraqi Kurd city — the number has risen to 60 — the Washington Post reports “that the Iraqi resistance likely learned some of their bomb-making techniques indirectly” from the U.S. Army’s detailed Vietnam-era booklet on “how to build and hide booby traps.” (DN!).

  • Image Hosted by ImageShack.usDavid McSwane, an intrepid 17-year-old high school journalist in Colorado, who’s been feted on CBS (which broke the story) and Air America — last night “Majority Report” host Janeane Garofalo kept promising that they’d have McSwane on the air but were having trouble reaching him, finally (whew!) getting McSwane on air in the show’s last half-hour — exposed Army recruiters’ willingness to “sex up” transcripts and arrest records. (Janeane observed that young David sounds older than Kos on the air! Kos was on the show earlier, from the offices of The Guardian in London, where he’s covering the election.)

  • WaPo also reveals that the first Army investigator knew within days that fratricide killed former NFL player Pat Tillman, but withheld that knowledge from his family and the public.

Cross-posted at DailyKos. More below:
Meanwhile, the families of 10 UK soldiers have threatened to sue Prime Minister Tony Blair “for waging what they described as an illegal war and for lying to the public in the lead up to the invasion.”


From the Washington Post report on the Army manual:

The existence of the Iraqi copy highlights the degree to which U.S. military techniques and technology found their way into Hussein’s military even as relations between the Iraqi leader and Washington eventually deteriorated into all-out war. With members of Hussein’s former military and security groups now powering much of the insurgency in Iraq, U.S. forces find themselves confronting an enemy trained, at least in part, in U.S. military methods.

Concern that Iraqi rebels may be drawing on U.S. bombmaking tactics prompted investigators last year to “pull off the shelves” for review all the manuals that the Iraqis may have had access to, according to a colonel in Washington familiar with the effort.

A common connection could be turned into a U.S. advantage, said electronics and weapons specialists at this New Jersey base, where much of the Army’s intensified research on countering roadside bombs is located.

“The upside is, if you know what their training manual is, then you know what you’re up against,” said one senior civilian official here. “Having them use our tactics, techniques and procedures isn’t necessarily a bad thing.” …


The WaPo today also reveals that “[t]he first Army investigator who looked into the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman … found within days that he was killed by his fellow Rangers in an act of “gross negligence,” but Army officials decided not to inform Tillman’s family or the public until weeks after a nationally televised memorial service”:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSoldiers on the scene said they were immediately sure Tillman was killed by a barrage of American bullets as he took shelter behind a large boulder during a twilight firefight along a narrow canyon road near the Pakistani border, according to nearly 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and investigative reports obtained by The Washington Post.

The documents also show that officers made erroneous initial reports that Tillman was killed by enemy fire, destroyed critical evidence and initially concealed the truth from Tillman’s brother, also an Army Ranger, who was near the attack on April 22, 2004, but did not witness it.

Brig. Gen. Gary M. Jones prepared the report in response to questions from Tillman’s family and from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz). Jones concluded that there was no official reluctance to report the truth but that “nothing has contributed more to an atmosphere of suspicion by the family than the failure to tell the family that Cpl. Pat Tillman’s death was the result of suspected friendly fire, as soon as that information became known within military channels.”

“Notifying families in a timely way that they have had a loved one killed or severely injured is complex and imperfect work. We can do better,” said Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman. “At the heart of every notification effort is a commitment to compassion and completeness in providing information as it is known to those who sustained the loss. That is what happened in the case of Corporal Tillman, and that effort continues to this day.”

In interviews with Jones, soldiers who were with Tillman when he died said they immediately reported that other Rangers, riding in a Humvee, emptied their weapons at his position on a hill without first identifying whom they were shooting. Perceiving they were in a heated firefight, the soldiers rounded a corner and used several high-powered weapons to kill an Afghan Militia Force soldier working with the Rangers before pausing and turning their guns on Tillman. About 65 meters away, Tillman had been waving his arms and throwing a smoke grenade to signal his unit that he was not an enemy fighter.

Jones reported that “some soldiers lost situational awareness to the point they had no idea where they were.”

Tillman’s death was an enormous blow to the image of the Army and the Special Forces because of his storybook personal narrative. Tillman turned down a multimillion-dollar football contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the Army after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He and his brother joined the elite Army Rangers and deployed to Iraq and later Afghanistan, hunting the Taliban and al Qaeda through mountainous terrain. …


More about the recruiter scandal: “Army Recruits Man Fresh From Psychiatric Ward,” a BooTrib story, May 3, 2005

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