Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the family of Army Ranger and football star Pat Tillman deserved the truth about his death by friendly fire in Afghanistan, but did not initially get it.
Mr. Rumsfeld testified Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He acknowledged that the Army's handling of Tillman's death only added to the family's pain. But the former U.S. defense chief reiterated that he did not have early knowledge that Tillman was killed by friendly fire.
Lawmakers want to know how much Rumsfeld and top military officials knew about the actual circumstances of Tillman's death in April 2004.
Army investigators have said the military knew almost immediately that Tillman had been killed accidentally by his own unit. But for a period of five weeks, the Army was reporting that he was killed by enemy fire.
Pentagon investigators have found no criminal negligence in the events following the death of Tillman, but they say "critical errors" were made in reporting his death and failing to provide accurate details to his family. Army Secretary Pete Geren has said there is no evidence of a deliberate cover-up by military leaders.
Lieutenant General Philip Kensinger was officially censured by the Pentagon on Tuesday for errors and lies in reporting Tillman's death. An Army panel will decide whether Kensinger, who was head of the Army Special Operations Command, should be demoted in rank. He denies lying, and refused to testify at today's hearing.
At least six other military officers received lesser reprimands.
Tillman was a highly paid professional football player who quit the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the Army after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.