Chapter 116: Mysterious Bouts Of Amnesia

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Donald Rumsfeld "couldn't recall"
when or how he found out.
I needed a walk, so I wandered down the hall and looked in on Mycroft again. I was pleased to see him sleeping soundly, but I knew it wouldn't last forever, and that he would need some food when he woke up. I was starting to feel hungry myself, and already expecting Sherlock to return at an unreasonable hour, so I asked Mrs. Hudson to bring up a bowl of fruit and a tray of sweet rolls along with cold supper for three. This way, I figured, no matter when or what they wanted to eat, I would have something for them.

I looked in on Mycroft again and left him a note, inviting him to join me if he wanted nourishment or conversation. Then I refilled my pipe and turned my attention back to Pat Tillman and his family.

The Tillman family, finding the Army's statements difficult to believe, had filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for documents concerning Pat's death, the circumstances that led to it, and the lies the Bush administration and the Army told immediately afterward.

In response, they received thousands of pages of documents, with all the crucial details redacted. Clearly, not all the information was equally susceptible to freedom.

In these documents, Mary Tillman found evidence that Army investigators had been asking whether Pat was well-liked, and whether anyone was jealous of him. Why, she wondered, would they ask such questions? Were they looking for a motive for murder?

The investigators, it appeared, were trying to reconcile what seemed to be conflicting evidence: Forensic evidence showed that Pat had been hit in the legs and the chest, as well as three times in the forehead. These wounds indicated that the shooter was very close to him when the shots were fired.

But the Army was saying he had been shot from a distance, from a moving vehicle, across a canyon, and by one of his own men. This raised the question: if the shooter was close enough to hit him that many times, how is it possible that he didn't recognize that he was firing on one of his own?

It was apparent to me that the reason why the controversy continued for so long was not that the Tillman family weren't Christians, but that none of the changing explanations offered by the Pentagon could explain the forensic evidence. Unsatisfied by the official stories, their determination whetted perhaps by all the redactions in the documents, the Tillman family continued to press for answers.

Richard Myers "couldn't remember"
whether he told anybody.
Thus they witnessed one of the most remarkable coincidences of our time: a Congressional hearing at which all the people in authority who were connected with the story, from Secretary of Defense on down, experienced mysterious bouts of amnesia which left them unable to remember, let alone explain, any of the most significant events in the sequence.

"When and how did you find out that Pat Tillman had been killed?" Donald Rumsfeld was asked. The former Secretary of Defense, known for his flurries of memos and his attention to minute details, couldn't remember. "I don’t recall precisely how I learned that he was killed," he said, according to Paul von Zielbauer in the New York Times. "It could have been internally; it could have been through the press." Oh well. Nobody else could remember very much, either.

"When and how did you find out that Pat Tillman's death had been fratricide?" the committee asked. Nobody could remember, except former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers. He testified that he found out at the end of April that there was a possibility of fratricide in the death of Pat Tillman, but he couldn't remember whether he told anybody.

According to von Zielbauer,
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.”
In 2008, The Raw Story published an article by Nick Juliano quoting a draft report from the House Oversight Committee, which said:
The Committee interviewed several senior officials at the White House, including Communications Director Dan Bartlett, Press Secretary Scott McClellan, and chief speechwriter Michael Gerson. Not a single one could recall when he learned about the fratricide or what he did in response.
But surely the prize for selective memory loss had already been cornered by retired Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., who was questioned for more than four hours by the Pentagon inspector general's office in December 2006.

According to an Associated Press report published by the Washington Post,
Kensinger repeatedly contradicted other officers' testimony, and sometimes his own. He said on some 70 occasions that he did not recall something.

At one point, he said: "You've got me really scared about my brain right now. I'm really having a problem."
Quite a problem indeed! It was no wonder the family were so upset.

Philip Kensinger was "really scared"
about his "brain."
Mrs. Hudson had brought the food, and a pot of tea, so I took a break from my reading and ate some dinner. While I was doing so, Mycroft rapped on the door.

"I found the note you left," he said when I opened it. "That was very kind of you."

"Think nothing of it," I replied. "Will you join me for dinner?"

"No, thank you, Doctor Watson," he answered, "I have had more than enough to eat today. I just stepped in to ask the questions which were on my mind when I woke up."

"What are the questions?" I asked.

"If the attack of September 11 wasn't carried out by 19 Muslim fanatics with box-cutters under the direction of Osama bin Laden, then who was responsible? And how was it done?"

"I'm afraid we'll have to ask your brother," I replied. "Would you like to wait with me until he returns?"

"Do you expect him soon?" he asked.

"I've no idea what to expect," I answered, "Quite often he does return very late."

"I'd be better off trying to sleep," replied Mycroft. He thanked me again and departed.

When I had finished eating, I started trying to summarize what I had learned about the story, particularly about its impact on the family. I wrote:
If a family can muster: considerable political and/or media support; the courage to work through overwhelming grief; the time, energy and money to keep pressing for answers; and the tenacity to persevere despite determined resistance; then they might earn the privilege of being demeaned, disrespected, and deceived -- dragged through multiple stages of Hell, only to be told, in effect, "Thank you for your sacrifice. Now go away. You'll get nothing from us."
Needless to say, I found the exercise quite depressing, and I was sitting, smoking, and contemplating the injustice of it, when Sherlock Holmes returned.

"Watson, you don't look well," he said. "What have you been doing?"

"I've been writing down what I have learned about what happened to the Tillman family," I replied. "It makes for grim reading," I added, handing him what I had written.

"Quite so," he said, after he had read it. "And we still don't know what happened to Pat Tillman, do we?"

"No," I replied. "I'm afraid we don't."

"It's possible that we will never know," said he. "Have you seen my brother recently?"

"He was here a few hours ago," I said. "He has slept for most of the day. And you? Did you find the needle you were looking for?"

"Not exactly," replied my friend. "But I found something else, which may prove to be even more valuable."

"May I ask what you found?" I continued.

"I have a new source," he replied. "The City of Westminster has jurisdiction over this case, and I have found someone in the City of Westminster Coroner's office who knows a few things, and who doesn't mind sharing."

"And have you learned anything in particular?" I asked.

"If we hope to learn anything from a public inquest," he said, "we may have a very long wait. Bureaucratic barriers have been put in place, according to my source, which will cause the process to be delayed, possibly for several years."

"Oh my goodness!" I exclaimed. "As if the family haven't endured enough!"

"The suffering of the family matters very little to the bureaucracy," said he.

"I can't argue with you about that," I admitted.

"No," said my friend, still holding the page I had given him, "you certainly can't."