Saturday, Jul 14, 2007, 1:28 am
White House Stonewalling Inquiry Into Circumstances of Pat Tillman’s Death
Scott Lindlaw for AP reports:
SAN FRANCISCO - Two influential lawmakers investigating how and when the Bush administration learned the circumstances of Pat Tillman's friendly-fire death and how those details were disclosed accused the White House and Pentagon on Friday of withholding key documents and renewed their demand for the material.
The White House and Defense Department have turned over nearly 10,000 pages of papers — mostly press clippings — but the White House cited "executive branch confidentiality interests" in refusing to provide other documents.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Tom Davis, R-Va., the committee's top-ranking Republican, said Friday the documents were inadequate. They insisted that the Defense Department turn over the additional material by July 25 and asked that the White House do likewise.
Tillman's family and others have said they believe the erroneous information peddled by the Pentagon was part of a deliberate cover-up that may have reached all the way to President Bush and then-Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. The committee said Friday it had scheduled a second hearing on Tillman's death for Aug. 1, this time to probe what senior Pentagon officials knew and when.
Waxman and Davis fired back that "these are not appropriate reasons for withholding the documents from the committee." And they charged that the White House had simply held other papers back.
In particular, they expressed doubt that the two documents they'd received on communications between the White House and Pentagon on Tillman's death were the only ones of their kind. One was simply a packet of newspaper clippings.
"Corporal Tillman's death was a major national story," they wrote. "It is not plausible that there were no communications between the Defense Department and the White House about Corporal Tillman's death."
Waxman and Davis complained to Defense Secretary Robert Gates of a "failure to provide a complete production to the committee." For instance, the committee received no documentation on how Rumsfeld learned of Tillman's death.
They said the Pentagon had not produced any papers from, among others, the offices of Gen. John Abizaid, then head of Central Command.
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