Friday, August 31, 2007

Latest Canadian casualty in Afghanistan identified

Andrew Mayeda

CanWest News Service

Thursday, August 30, 2007

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- The Canadian soldier who died this week after being found shot in his room has been identified as Maj. Raymond Ruckpaul.

Mr. Ruckpaul, 41, was an armoured officer serving at the NATO coalition headquarters in Kabul. He was previously based at the NATO Allied Land Component headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany.

Mr. Ruckpaul was discovered about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday after suffering a gunshot wound. Medical personnel tried to save him but he died around 7:30 a.m.

The cause of the death is being investigated by the Canadian military as well as the International Security Assistance Force, the name of the NATO force based in Afghanistan.

"Due to this police investigation, we won't comment on the nature (of the death) nor the events surrounding it," military spokesman Capt. Sylvain Chalifour said this week.

However, he said "all options are open" regarding the cause of death, including suicide, murder and accidental discharge of the weapon.

It does not appear that the death was caused by "hostile action," added Capt. Chalifour.
Seventy Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have now died in Afghanistan since 2002.

It could be months before any light is shed on Wednesday's death.

Most of the soldiers have been killed by improvised explosive devices or suicide bombers, but some have died in unusual, non-combat circumstances.

Last August, Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh was accidentally shot by a fellow Canadian soldier while they were on patrol in a G-wagon vehicle.

Cpl. Walsh's family said they were kept in the dark by the military for eight months. The soldier who shot Walsh, Master Cpl. Robbie Fraser, was charged with manslaughter and negligent performance of duty in March.

This spring, Cpl. Kevin Megeney was accidentally shot in the chest while in his tent at Kandahar Airfield.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is still investigating the incident.
The investigative unit is usually called in when military police believe a serious breach of the military's code of conduct or a criminal offence has been committed.

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said the Liberals will use their first opposition day motion when Parliament resumes to try to bring the controversy over Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan to a head.

Mr. Dion told a news conference in St. John's, the motion will ask the government to give formal notice to NATO that the combat mission involving more than 2,000 Canadian troops be ended as scheduled in February, 2009.

The Liberals have been calling on the government to do this since last winter and Mr. Dion said they are fed up with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's "vague" pronouncements in which he has said he would seek a consensus from Parliament before deciding on the future of the mission.

Mr. Dion could be certain of support from the Bloc Quebecois, whose leader, Gilles Duceppe, has said his party would vote non-confidence in the government if a possible throne speech opening a new session of Parliament does not promise the February, 2009, end to the mission.

Mr. Dion called on New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton for support "for once." The NDP voted against a similar motion earlier this year on grounds they want an immediate withdrawal of troops.

Mr. Dion said he would not make the motion a confidence vote which could defeat the government, although Mr. Harper could declare it a confidence test.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Half of deaths in Russian Army suicides

20/ 08/ 2007

MOSCOW, August 20 (RIA Novosti) - Suicides continue to be the main cause of death in Russia's Armed Forces, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

According to the ministry's official Web site, a total of 262 servicemen have died from crimes, accidents and suicides so far this year.

The deaths were mainly due to suicides (147), accidents (60), traffic accidents (27), murder through negligence (15), hazing (7) and mishandling of arms (6).

The ministry earlier said a total of 554 servicemen had died in 21,252 accidents and other non-combat-related incidents in the Russian Armed Forces in 2006.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ignoring increased risk of PTSD in redeployments at our peril

Forgive me for posting this all over the place. I don't like to do this. I've been invited to post here and on a few other blogs. Up until now, I've been reluctant to repost, however this situation demands it. This has dropped off the media's attention and no one talking about this now. The increased suicides and attempts are a direct cause from the redeployments. Here is something else that you need to remember.

While the number of amputations are double the number from all other wars,

Nothing so gleaming exists for soldiers with diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, who in the Army alone outnumber all of the war's amputees by 43 to 1.
Washington Post
June 18, 2007

Ignoring increased risk of PTSD in redeployments at our peril

by Kathie Costos

Repeat Iraq Tours Raise Risk of PTSD, Army Finds

By Ann Scott Tyson

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, December 20, 2006; Page A19

U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress, raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Army's first survey exploring how today's multiple war-zone rotations affect soldiers' mental health........

Searching for quotes for a new video, I kept finding the report of the increased risk associated with redeployments missing in action. Why? How could a report like this drop off the reports on PTSD when so many of them are coming out? Is this no longer important to the media considering some are on their fifth tour right now? How could they just drop this from their attention?

Easy. It does not fit in with the illusion of the "all volunteer" Army, the Marines, the Air Force or the National Guard. Think about it. Bush keeps saying "well their all volunteers" and this paints a picture in our minds that these men and women have no issues about going back over and over again. It paints a picture of everyone happily carrying out his orders.

We are sending back seriously wounded people. We need to remember they are people. Humans not machines of war. What do you see when you look into their eyes? If they have PTSD, you see a person haunted. It is deeper than being tired. Deeper than being homesick. Deeper than personal issues back home. All of these things are insignificant to what is behind those eyes. It is not something to mess around with. It is not something to ignore any more than it is something to treat with some pills, pat them on the head and send them back to be traumatized all over again.

They may have walked away from the first deployment without PTSD. They may have walked away from the second. Perhaps even the third but the odds are a lot greater they brought the combat back home with them as surely as they did their duffel bag. They are being forced to play a game of Russian roulette with their minds and their lives. Every time they go back, the risk of PTSD is 50% greater to them. Yet as the media have been reluctant to report on this crisis, the report drops off to the distant memories of the people getting the air time on cable news. You certainly won't hear any of the people supporting Bush's delusion discussing it.

The next time you hear any more figures, usually low balled, remember why the numbers are going up and then keep in mind, sometimes they won't show signs of PTSD until years later. Where will the reporters be then? Remember when they came home from Vietnam and the media ignored their problems. Less than ten years later, local newspapers were reporting on them in the obituary pages and the crime logs. Twenty years later they were reporting still in these sections but then occasionally finding the compassion to report on the homelessness of Vietnam Veterans. If we do nothing right now, if we do not keep the attention of the media right where it needs to be so that they are taken care of, how many of them will they be reporting on in the obituary pages and the crime logs ten years from now? Five years from now? Later on this year? How many families will pay the price as they watch someone they love helplessly fall apart and die a slow death? How many of them will come home one day and find they were actually a fatality of combat long after they stopped wearing their uniform?

Kathie Costos
"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation." - George Washington

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Army Suicides Highest in 26 Years

The Associated PressThursday, August 16, 2007; 4:02 AM

WASHINGTON -- Army soldiers committed suicide last year at the highest rate in 26 years, and more than a quarter did so while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new military report.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday, found there were 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest number since the 102 suicides in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War.

The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 26 years, from last year's high of 17.3 per 100,000 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.

Last year, "Iraq was the most common deployment location for both (suicides) and attempts," the report said.

The 99 suicides included 28 soldiers deployed to the two wars and 71 who weren't. About twice as many women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide as did women not sent to war, the report said.

Preliminary numbers for the first half of this year indicate the number of suicides could decline across the service in 2007 but increase among troops serving in the wars, officials said.

The increases for 2006 came as Army officials worked to set up a number of new and stronger programs for providing mental health care to a force strained by the longer-than-expected war in Iraq and the global counterterrorism war entering its sixth year.

Failed personal relationships, legal and financial problems and the stress of their jobs were factors motivating the soldiers to commit suicide, according to the report.

"In addition, there was a significant relationship between suicide attempts and number of days deployed" in Iraq, Afghanistan or nearby countries where troops are participating in the war effort, it said. The same pattern seemed to hold true for those who not only attempted, but succeeded in killing themselves.

There also "was limited evidence to support the view that multiple ... deployments are a risk factor for suicide behaviors," it said.

About a quarter of those who killed themselves had a history of at least one psychiatric disorder. Of those, about 20 percent had been diagnosed with a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder and/or depression; and 8 percent had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, including post traumatic stress disorder _ one of the signature injuries of the conflict in Iraq.

Firearms were the most common method of suicide. Those who attempted suicide but didn't succeed tended more often to take overdoses and cut themselves.

In a service of more than a half million troop, the 99 suicides amounted to a rate of 17.3 per 100,000 _ the highest in the past 26 years, the report said. The average rate over those years has been 12.3 per 100,000.

The rate for those serving in the wars stayed about the same, 19.4 per 100,000 in 2006, compared with 19.9 in 2005.

The Army said the information was compiled from reports collected as part of its suicide prevention program _ reports required for all "suicide-related behaviors that result in death, hospitalization or evacuation" of the soldier. It can take considerable time to investigate a suicide and, in fact, the Army said that in addition to the 99 confirmed suicides last year, there are two other deaths suspected as suicides in which investigations were pending.
Associated Press reporter Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report from Washington.
On the Net:
Defense Department:
© 2007 The Associated Press

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Monday, August 06, 2007

After Pat's Birthday

By Kevin Tillman
The Mysterious Death of Pat Tillman
Sat Aug 4, 2007 22:03

Courtesy of the Tillman Family

Originally Posted on Oct 19, 2006

By Kevin Tillman

Editor’s note: Kevin Tillman joined the Army with his brother Pat in 2002, and they served together in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pat was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. Kevin, who was discharged in 2005, has written a powerful, must-read document.

It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
The Mysterious Death of Pat Tillman

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don’t be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that “somehow” was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman;article=112640;show_parent=1

Check out some of the best Tillman-related materials on the Web
Mary Tillman speaks out in Truthdig
‘They tried to attach themselves to his virtue; then they wiped their feet with him.’

Playing the Atheism Card Against Pat Tillman’s Family
A veteran of the U.S. Army Special forces writes about a series of shockingly callous statements that Pat Tillman’s commanding officer made about the Tillman family’s search for the truth.

--submitted by Patti Woodard

Tracking and reporting of friendly fire incidents under review by Marines' IG

By Leo Shane III, Stars and StripesPacific edition, Saturday, August 4, 2007

WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps’ Inspector General will review all service combat casualty reports after senior leaders found numerous errors in units’ tracking and reporting of friendly fire cases.

The investigation, ordered by the commandant, will include a look at whether wounded Marines and their families are receiving proper notification of friendly fire incidents, and how officials could lose track of the strategically important data.

Gen. Robert Magnus, assistant commandant of the Corps, told members of a House Armed Services subcommittee Thursday that since 2001 the service has seen 23 incidents involving 82 casualties that may be a result of friendly-fire attacks, but he admitted he has little confidence that figure is accurate.

In June, Corps officials testified before the same subcommittee that only two friendly-fire incidents had occurred since 2001, with only 19 casualties. Thursday’s figures were the second time they sent corrected data to Congress.

“The families of our fallen and wounded Marines are entitled to accurate, timely information on the causes of their loved ones’ death or injury,” Magnus said. “We don’t want these families to feel like we’re not taking care of them.”

Magnus said that in some of the incidents, families still have not been informed that a friendly-fire investigation is under way, despite Corps policies requiring that information to be related to survivors within a few days.

Members of the subcommittee blasted the Corps for those violations in light of their extra emphasis by lawmakers on the issue and high-profile cases, such as the death of Cpl. Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.

Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., said the multiple errors in the process called into question all of the Corps’ assurances that the service is working toward a solution.

“I’m hesitant to believe there was any intent to deceive or mislead,” he said. “But it’s disturbing that the picture of the friendly-fire process compiled by Marine Corps Headquarters … was so different from how it was actually being implemented.”

Magnus blamed inconsistent paperwork for the mistakes, saying in some cases units used outdated or incorrect terminology that misclassified the cases. The inspector general’s review will include a look at those cases, and offer recommendations for corrections there as well.
Defense officials also are drafting plans for a militarywide friendly-fire reporting policy, modeled after updates in the Army’s regulations earlier this year, the assistant commandant said.
Magnus he expects to offer Congress an accurate number of friendly-fire investigations, casualties and deaths once the inspector general’s review is finished in a few weeks.

--submitted by Patti Woodard

The Uncounted Casualties of War

By Amy Goodman, King Features Syndicate. Posted August 1, 2007.

The parents of an Iraq veteran who committed suicide are suing the Department of Veterans Affairs for wrongful death and medical malpractice.

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Lucey is not counted among the Iraq War dead. But he did die, when he came home. He committed suicide. His parents are suing the Department of Veterans Affairs and R. James Nicholson, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, for wrongful death, medical malpractice and other damages.

Kevin and Joyce Lucey saw their son's rapid descent after he returned from combat in Iraq in June 2003. Kevin said: "Hallucinations started with the visual, the audio, tactile. He would talk about hearing camel spiders in his room at night, and he actually had a flashlight under his bed, which he could use to search for the camel spiders. His whole life was falling apart."

Jeffrey told his family that he was ordered to execute two Iraqi prisoners of war. After he killed the two men, Jeffrey took their dog tags and wore them until Christmas Eve 2003, when he threw them at his sister, calling himself a murderer. A military investigation concluded the story is without merit, but Kevin Lucey says: "An agency investigating itself, I have a lot of problems with that. We fully believe our son." Joyce Lucey added: "It really, to us, didn't make a difference what caused Jeffrey's PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. We know that he came back different, so something happened to him over there."

Jeffrey got worse, secluding himself in his room, watching TV and drinking heavily. Jeffrey was reluctant to seek care, fearing the stigma that he felt accompanied mental-health treatment. Finally, on May 28, 2004, the Luceys had Jeffrey involuntarily committed. The Veterans Affairs hospital released him after three days.

On June 5, 2004, Jeffrey had deteriorated significantly. His sisters and grandfather brought him back to the VA. Joyce said the VA "decided that he wasn't saying what he needed to say to get involuntarily committed. Later we were to find out that they never called a psychiatrist or anybody that could have evaluated him. And they have this all on the record. It said that the grandfather was pleading for his grandson to be admitted."

The Luceys later learned from staff notes that Jeffrey talked about three ways to commit suicide. His father explained: "He told them that he would suffocate himself, he would overdose or he would hang himself. He also shared with the psychiatrist how he had bought a hose. And, of course, on June 5, when we tried to admit him the second time and the VA declined, Joyce and I went through the house, we took everything that he could hurt himself with, but we never thought of a hose."

Turned back by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Jeffrey spent his last two weeks alive at home. Kevin Lucey describes the night before his son killed himself: "It was about 11:30 at night, and I was exhausted, Jeff was exhausted. He asked me if he would be able to sit in my lap.

And so for 45 minutes we rocked in silence, and the therapist told us after Jeff died that that was no doubt his last place of refuge, his last safe harbor that he felt that he could go to."

The next evening, after returning home from work, Kevin raced inside: "I went to his bedroom, and the one thing I noted was that his dog tags were laying on his bed." He made his way to the cellar, where he found his son Jeffrey dead, with a hose double-looped around his neck.

Three years later, his parents have filed suit. They are not alone. A separate class-action suit was filed by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth on behalf of hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been denied medical benefits.

Jeffrey Lucey's suicide note begins, "Dear Mom and Dad, I cannot express my apologies in words for the pain I have caused you but I beg for your forgiveness. I want you to know that I loved you both and still do but the pain of life was too much for me to deal with."

Supporting the troops means taking care of them when they return home.

Amy Goodman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now!

--submitted by Patti Woodard

Thursday, August 02, 2007

From the New York Times


Published: August 2, 2007

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 — With Donald H. Rumsfeld seated at the witness table, the chairman of a House committee investigating the bungled aftermath of the friendly fire death of Cpl. Pat Tillman told a packed Capitol Hill hearing room Wednesday that the time had come for some answers. What did Mr. Rumsfeld and other top Defense Department officials know about Corporal Tillman’s accidental killing by American forces, he asked, and when did they know it?

Three and a half hours, a few four-color charts and a couple of lost tempers later, the chairman, Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, solemnly admitted that he had gotten almost nowhere.

“You’ve all admitted that the system failed; none of you feel personally responsible,” Mr. Waxman said, addressing Mr. Rumsfeld, who resigned as defense secretary last fall, as well as one currently serving general and two retired ones who also testified under oath Wednesday.

“Somebody should be responsible.”

The hearing, held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was Mr. Rumsfeld’s first return to Capitol Hill since President Bush asked him to resign after the Democratic victories in midterm elections. And although the bitter exchanges between Mr. Rumsfeld and the Democrats who now control Congress focused on the case involving Corporal Tillman, they exposed veins of anger over what the Democrats regard as a lack of accountability for broad missteps in Iraq.

Still, for most of the hearing, Mr. Rumsfeld, who sometimes sounded frailer and more gravel-voiced than he did while leading the Pentagon for nearly six years, offered few specific facts and recollections. He interjected only one exasperated “Oh, goodness!” despite numerous verbal provocations from committee members and stuck to his prepared answers and upbraided Democratic committee members when he felt they had their facts wrong.

“I don’t recall precisely how I learned that he was killed,” Mr. Rumsfeld said of Corporal Tillman early in the hearing. “It could have been internally; it could have been through the press.” He said he was also unsure when he learned the death was most likely from American fire, he added, although it was probably around May 20, 2004, about three weeks after the three generals seated beside him at Wednesday’s hearing had learned of it.

Testifying not in their familiar uniforms rich with medals but in ordinary business suits, two retired generals, Richard B. Myers, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and John P. Abizaid, the former commander of the American forces in the Middle East, each acknowledged that the Tillman matter was a “screw-up,” but not their fault.

General Abizaid said he received a classified message on April 29, 2004, saying Corporal Tillman, a professional football player who quit after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to become an Army Ranger, may have been killed by American fire in April 2004, and not in combat, as the Army had publicly stated.

General Myers said he could not recall how or when he learned of it, and even if he could, he said, “I don’t think there’s any regulation that would require me to do anything, actually.”
General Myers also said that if he knew that Army officials had suspected friendly fire — or what the military calls a “blue on blue” attack — in Corporal Tillman’s death, he would have informed Mr. Rumsfeld, his boss at the time, but added, “I cannot recall whether or not I did that.”

Several Democrats used the hearing to engage Mr. Rumsfeld in unrelated but longstanding grievances, including the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the Pentagon’s policy of banning news media coverage of flag-draped military coffins returning from overseas.
At one point, Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat who is running for president, averred that Mr. Rumsfeld had “covered up” the Tillman matter as well as prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib.

“That’s just false,” Mr. Rumsfeld interjected. “You have nothing to base that on. You have not a scrap of evidence or a piece of paper or a witness that would attest to that. I have not been involved in any cover-up whatsoever.”

Stewing quietly throughout the hearing, and eventually lashing out at a lawmaker who approached to offer condolences, were several members of Corporal Tillman’s family, including his brother Kevin and his father, Pat Tillman Sr. The family has been assertive in calling attention to the Army’s mishandling of Corporal Tillman’s death, and has been critical of Republican members of Congress who have sought to minimize the significance of the case.
Near the end of the hearing, Pat Tillman Sr. told Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California, in a low but furious voice, “Get away from me.”

The only active duty witness at the hearing was Gen. Bryan D. Brown, the former commander of the United States Special Operations Command. Each of the four witnesses said he was either not the proper person, did not know enough or was not in the proper position to correct the public record on the Tillman killing or alert the Tillman family to the suspicions of friendly fire.
The Army told Corporal Tillman’s parents that he had been killed by fellow troops almost five weeks after his death, long after his nationally televised memorial service and posthumous Silver Star award.

“It’s very difficult to come to grips with how we screwed this thing up,” General Abizaid said, “but we screwed this thing up.”

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rumsfeld defends himself on Tillman

01 August, 2007

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld defended himself and took no personal responsibility Wednesday for the military‘s bungled response to Army Ranger Pat Tillman‘s friendly-fire death in Afghanistan.

He told a House committee hearing that he‘d always impressed upon Pentagon underlings the importance of telling the truth.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unanswered questions about the bungled response to Army Ranger Pat Tillman‘s friendly-fire death in Afghanistan reach into the highest ranks of the Pentagon and beyond, a key Democrat charged Wednesday.

"The concealment of Corp. Tillman‘s fratricide caused millions of Americans to question the integrity of our government, yet no one will tell us when and how the White House learned the truth," said Waxman, D-Calif.

Both joined him at the witness table.

"Are you not ashamed?" one said. Rumsfeld didn‘t react.

Tillman‘s mother Mary and other family members watched from the last row in the committee room.

The Army censured Kensinger for "a failure of leadership" and accused him of lying to investigators probing the aftermath of Tillman‘s death. For five weeks the Army knew Tillman was cut down by his fellow Army Rangers, but told the public and Tillman‘s own family that he died in a fire fight with enemy militia.

"I have no knowledge of any evidence to that end," Geren told a Pentagon briefing Tuesday after announcing Kensinger‘s censure.

That wasn‘t good enough for Democrats, who along with Tillman‘s family suspect a cover-up that goes all the way to the White House.

The punishments "do nothing to lift the appearance of cover-up that continues to envelop the Pat Tillman story," said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., who represents Tillman‘s hometown of San Jose.

"It is inconceivable that numerous top-ranking generals ... were aware of the true circumstances of Pat‘s death, but did not inform their civilian superiors — President Bush and then-Secretary Rumsfeld," said Honda, promising to "hold these commanders‘ feet to the fire" at Wednesday‘s hearing.

Waxman wanted to hear from Kensinger, and the committee issued a subpoena Monday for his testimony. As the hearing began U.S. marshals still hadn‘t been able to deliver it.

Kensinger‘s attorney, Charles W. Gittins, said Tuesday night that Kensinger was away on business travel.

"He declined the committee invitation to testify two weeks ago, so it was no surprise to the committee that he had no intent to participate in a hearing that is all about show and no substance," Gittins said in an e-mail message to The Associated Press.

Gittins said his client "had no reason to lie" and had told investigators "everything he knows" about the case. In May, in a rebuttal letter to the general who reviewed the matter, Kensinger firmly rejected all accusations that he had lied.

Gittins also dismissed accusations that Kensinger should have told the Tillman family about the possibility of friendly fire, saying the retired general "was not the release authority for the information." That "release authority," Gittins said, was Gen. John Abizaid, then the head of the U.S. Central Command.

Tillman‘s death received worldwide attention because he had walked away from a huge contract with the National Football League‘s Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the Army after 9/11.

Among possible evidence of White House knowledge, lawmakers have cited a memo written by a top general seven days after Tillman‘s death warning it was "highly possible" the Army Ranger was killed by his own comrades and making clear his warning should be conveyed to the president.

President Bush made no reference to the way Tillman died in a speech delivered two days after the memo was written.

A White House spokesman has said there‘s no indication Bush received the warning in the memo written April 29, 2004, by then-Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal to Abizaid.

Abizaid was on the witness list for Wednesday‘s hearing.

McChrystal was spared punishment in the investigation report released Tuesday. The investigation concluded McChrystal behaved reasonably in assuming the supporting material for Tillman‘s Silver Star recommendation was accurate, and in conveying the message about the likelihood of friendly fire in Tillman‘s death.
Associated Press writers Richard Lardner in Washington and Scott Lindlaw in San Francisco contributed to this report.