Saturday, March 31, 2007

By SCOTT LINDLAW
AP

SAN JOSE, Calif. (March 31) - For weeks after his death, the Pentagon maintained that Pat Tillman was killed in an enemy ambush, even after a top general tried to warn President Bush that the NFL star-turned-soldier likely died by friendly fire, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

In the memo sent to a superior officer seven days after Tillman's death, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that the evidence strongly pointed to friendly fire and the nation's leaders risked embarrassing themselves if they publicly said otherwise.

"I felt that it was essential that you received this information as soon as we detected it in order to preclude any unknowing statements by our country's leaders which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Cpl. Tillman's death become public," McChrystal wrote.

The April 29, 2004, memo, was addressed to Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command, and was intended as a warning to Bush and acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee.

It is not clear whether Bush or Brownlee received the warning, but it raises new questions on how high up the chain of command the misinformation campaign extended. In speeches following the memo, Bush avoided any reference to the circumstances of Tillman's death.

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