Report: Confusion, carelessness led to overstated stories on Tillman, Lynch
July 16, 2008
WASHINGTON — Confusion surrounding the death of Cpl. Pat Tillman and the capture of Pfc. Jessica Lynch were aggravated by "incomprehensible carelessness and incompetence" of military officials, according to a draft report before Congress.
The document, to be reviewed and voted on Thursday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, follows the inaccurate news reports and subsequent investigations in both cases.
Army officials had no comment on the findings.
The report stops short of assigning specific blame in either case, noting that top Pentagon and White House officials showed a "near universal lack of recall" as investigators tried to trace where mistakes and exaggerations began.
"It is clear, however, that the Defense Department did not meet its most basic obligations in sharing accurate information with the families and with the American public," the report stated.
Tillman was killed in April 2004 in a friendly-fire accident in Afghanistan, but initial reports from the Army described a heroic stand against enemy fighters leading to his death.
Lynch was captured by Iraqi forces in March 2003, but a week later found and rescued from a hospital in Nasiriyah. Officials reported she was captured after a valiant last stand and rescued in a daring hospital raid, details that later turned out to be embellished.
The report, compiled by committee staff, calls both cases intentional attempts to cover up facts about the incidents. "And in both cases the fictional accounts proved to be compelling public narratives at difficult times in the war," the report states. The committee will hold a hearing Thursday to discuss the investigation and larger issues of military accountability.