Twenty U.S. military members who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to help secure the release of all documents related to the death of Pat Tillman.
In a letter to Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw, the veterans urged them to ask President Bush to release the documents.
“We know that the National Football League is not in the business of partisan politics, nor should it be,” the veterans wrote Monday. “However, in this case ... the House committee requests were signed by both the Democratic chairman and Republican ranking member, so this is not a partisan witch-hunt, but merely a quest to get to the truth about the death of Pat Tillman.
“The league and the players association both owe the Tillman family their full support in the family’s pursuit of the truth. Mary Tillman, Pat’s mother, has been quite vocal about her desire to see all materials released regarding her son’s death, and the family has gone as far as expending its own money on private investigations. At a time when former players increasingly say that the league and players association have not taken care of them, there would be no better way to send a signal that the league supports its own than by demanding the complete truth be told regarding a former player’s death.”
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has sent a bipartisan request for certain communications and documents from the White House regarding the death of Pat Tillman. The President has not granted that request, citing executive privilege.
Tillman, who left the NFL 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.
Earlier Monday, the lawyer for the retired general being considered for demotion in the case said Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr. wanted to defend himself before an Army board. Kensinger was censured for “a failure of leadership” and accused of lying to investigators. 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.