March 27, 2007
Leah Yoon, NPR




March 27, 2007; Washington, DC – Mary Tillman, mother of deceased Army Ranger Pat Tillman, says she is not satisfied with a Pentagon report released yesterday about the friendly-fire death of her son. In an interview airing this morning on NPR News’ Morning Edition, Ms. Tillman rejected the Pentagon’s findings. “They could have told us the truth. And if they didn’t want to tell us the truth, they could have said that we don’t know, we’re doing an investigation. But what they did is they made up a story.”

A complete transcript of the live interview is below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News’ Morning Edition. Any television use of excerpts must have NPR logo on-screen identifying the soundbyte. Audio of the interview is available at

Morning Edition, the two-hour newsmagazine airing weekdays and hosted by Steve Inskeep in Washington, D.C., and Renée Montagne from NPR West in Culver City, Calif., is public radio’s most listened-to program with nearly 13 million weekly listeners.


STEVE INSKEEP: As the Pentagon was briefing reporters yesterday, Pat Tillman’s family was getting its own briefing at a hotel in San Jose, California.

MARY TILLMAN: My name is Mary Tillman, and I’m Pat Tillman’s mother.

MR. INSKEEP: Mary Tillman was one of those facing a number of Defense Department officials. The Tillmans were given a stack of documents, which join many others that she’s gathered, and the military offered its latest explanation of what happened.

MS. TILLMAN: We believe we were given a very imbalanced presentation. A lot of the information they gave us was based on what the individuals that were actually in the shooter vehicle – that was their – you know, their point of view. They didn’t give any kind of information based on anyone else in the situation. I mean, it’s a very complicated situation; that’s why it’s hard to, you know, put it in some kind of a nutshell. All I can say is that what we received was very imbalanced.

MR. INSKEEP: Well, I suppose there are at least two separate issues here. One is what actually happened to Pat Tillman on the battlefield.


MR. INSKEEP: And the other is what the U.S. military did with whatever information it had about that over time.

MS. TILLMAN: Well, and the thing that’s also upsetting is that the original investigation, the one that was done within hours of Pat’s death, or the one that was, you know, started immediately after he died. And that particular officer indicated he saw evidence of homicidal negligence or criminal intent. That investigation was sort of put to the side. And then another investigation was put into place.

That original investigation we can’t get our hands on, and they say it’s because it was never signed. Yet, the officer himself said he gave a recommendation. You know, these kinds of things are very upsetting.

They told us that these young – these soldiers drove by, in a matter four seconds, and shot up the ridgeline in a fog of war. Yet, when you go through the documents, it’s very clear that witnesses indicate that these soldiers stopped the vehicle. Some of them got out of the vehicle. One for sure got out of the vehicle and was shooting. It’s not like they drove by in a fog of war.

MR. INSKEEP: So on these two issues – what happened to Pat Tillman and what did the military do with the information that it had – the military says they made critical errors in reporting what they knew, but there was no criminal wrongdoing in the shooting. It sounds like you’re not satisfied.

MS. TILLMAN: No, we’re not satisfied with that. We’re not saying that Pat was intentionally killed – that, you know, I mean I don’t know that that is – I mean, we may have some questions about that, but that’s nothing that we could ever prove. And I don’t want to get into that. But, he died on the 22nd. His memorial service was May 3rd. They could have told us the truth. And if they didn’t want to tell us the truth, they could have said that we don’t know, we’re doing an investigation. But what they did is they made up a story. That’s not a misstep, and that’s not an error. They made up a story. It was presented on national television. And we believe they did that to promote the war.

MR. INSKEEP: I imagine this meeting that you had with military officials yesterday must have been the latest, or perhaps the last of many meetings you’ve had where they’ve tried to explain what they know.

MS. TILLMAN: Right. And they always lie. And I’ll be quite honest with you. The meeting was a travesty. (Chuckles.) I mean, we were lied to. We became – they told us that we were abusive. (Chuckles.) And I responded back that, you know, lying is a form of abuse, and we’ve been lied to for three years.

MR. INSKEEP: They said you were abusive to them?

MS. TILLMAN: They said we were abusive. And we were –

MR. INSKEEP: Were you raising your voice?

MS. TILLMAN: – I wouldn’t have wanted to have been them. I mean, we got to the point where we were extremely rude to them, but they weren’t – they were just lying.

MR. INSKEEP: Mary Tillman is the mother of Pat Tillman. She spoke with us early this morning from San Jose, California. And you can read the Pentagon Inspector General’s report on the death of her son at