updated 8/13/2007 7:15:57 PM ET 2007-08-13T23:15:57

The retired general being considered for demotion after the friendly fire death of former pro football player Pat Tillman wants to defend himself before an Army board, his lawyer said.

Retired Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr. was censured for “a failure of leadership” and accused of lying to investigators, and an Army board set to meet in the coming weeks will determine if he should be demoted. Kensinger, a three-star general, was in charge of the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg when Tillman was killed three years ago.

“Unless this is just to be a meaningless rubber-stamp exercise, we believe that he needs to be heard in person by the board so they can judge whether or not he is telling the truth when he says he told the truth to the investigators,” Kensinger’s attorney, Charles W. Gittins, told The Fayetteville Observer for Monday’s editions.

Tillman who left professional football to join the military after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was in the 75th Ranger Regiment when he was killed in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. The military said officers knew within hours that the death was from friendly fire but violated regulations by not telling Tillman’s family or the public for five weeks.

Kensinger was censured earlier this month, when the Army accused him of a “perfect storm of mistakes, misjudgments and a failure of leadership.” The Army panel will decide whether Kensinger should be stripped of his third star, a move that would cut his retirement benefits.

The panel will meet later this month or in early September. It’s unclear whether Kensinger will be allowed to speak during the hearing, but the Army will work with him to determine how the hearing will be held, said Army spokesman Paul Boyle.

“There’s no rule on that sort of thing. It’s pretty much a procedural type of review,” Boyle told The Associated Press.

At least six other officers received lesser reprimands in the case.

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