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Indirectly, of course.
Tillman, an ex-NFL star who threw away his career and a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to fight Bush’s war as an Army Ranger, was killed in Afghanistan this week.
According to the Bush Ministry of Disinformation, Fox News division, Tillman was killed during a search-and-destroy operation near Khost, Afghanistan. Tillman’s unit, the 75th Ranger Regiment, "was acting on intelligence about possible Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters when a firefight erupted. Tillman was the only Ranger killed in his unit, although military officials said two other U.S. soldiers were injured."
So, how did the CIA indirectly kill Pat Tillman? It’s quite simple, actually — the CIA created and provided sustenance for both the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
After the Soviets unwisely invaded Afghanistan, the CIA and its Pakistani client, the ISI, recruited the most vile and demented Muslim fundamentalists it could scrounge up. For instance, guys like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, "a particularly fanatical fundamentalist and woman-hater," as journalist Tim Weiner writes. "[Hekmatyar's] followers first gained attention by throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil."
So enamored was Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brezinski, Harold Brown, Pakistan’s military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq, Ronald Reagan — he liked to call Hekmatyar and his cutthroat associates "freedom fighters" – William Casey and the CIA with the so-called Afghan rebels, they spent a whopping $6 billion grooming them. Between 1982 and 1992, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries in the Middle East, North and East Africa, Central Asia, and the Far East were recruited.
Reagan was so excited about the idea of the mujahideen killing conscripted Soviet teenagers he issued National Security Decision Directive 166,29, a secret plan to significantly escalate covert action in Afghanistan. Reagan’s directive came bundled with all sorts of fancy high-tech equipment and military assistance. "Beginning in 1985, the CIA supplied mujahideen rebels with extensive satellite reconnaissance data of Soviet targets on the Afghan battlefield, plans for military operations based on the satellite intelligence, intercepts of Soviet communications, secret communications networks for the rebels, delayed timing devices for tons of C-4 plastic explosives for urban sabotage, and sophisticated guerrilla attacks, long-range sniper rifles, a targeting device for mortars that was linked to a U.S. Navy satellite, wire-guided anti-tank missiles, and other equipment," writes Phil Gasper. "By 1987, the annual supply of arms had reached 65,000 tons, and a ‘ceaseless stream’ of CIA and Pentagon officials were visiting Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) headquarters in Rawalpindi and helping to plan mujahideen operations."
One of these radical Muslims was Osama bin Laden.
In 1984, bin Laden was running Maktab al-Khidamar, an ISI created organization devised to funnel money into Reagan’s war against the Soviets. Although the Bush Ministry of Disinformation likes to claim Reagan and the CIA did not directly support bin Laden, defendants accused of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombing in Kenya have revealed the CIA shipped high-powered sniper rifles directly to bin Laden’s operation in 1989, a fact confirmed by the Tennessee-based manufacturer of the rifles. "In 1988, with U.S. knowledge, bin Laden created al-Qaeda (the Base): a conglomerate of quasi-independent Islamic terrorist cells spread across at least 26 countries," explains Indian journalist Rahul Bhedi. "Washington turned a blind eye to al-Qaeda, confident that it would not directly impinge on the U.S."
Of course, on September 11, 2001, everything changed.
As for the Taliban, they were nurtured by the ISI and the Pakistani army. According to Selig Harrison, the creation of the Taliban was "actively encouraged by the ISI and the CIA." Glyn Davies, State Department spokesperson, saw "nothing objectionable" in the Taliban’s plans to impose strict Islamic law on the war-battered people of Afghanistan.
Strict Islamic law, naturally, is good for business, just like it is in Saudi Arabia.
"The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis," a US diplomat predicted in 1997. "There will be Aramco, pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that." As well, they could live with the Taliban executing people for listening to music and women teachers. In May 2002, after Bush invaded, Hamid Karzai, the handpicked "interim ruler" of Afghanistan, held talks with his counterparts in Pakistan and Turkmenistan to finalize details on an 850-kilometer gas pipeline.
But it wasn’t simply gas pipelines that motivated the CIA and the ISI — it was, as well, the profits to be gained from drug production and smuggling. "The proposed pipelines were not the only motive for Pakistani support of the Taliban," writes Chris Slee in a review of Ahmed Rashid’s Taliban: The Story of the Afghan Warlords. "Sections of the Pakistani ruling class were heavily involved in the smuggling of drugs and other goods between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They preferred to deal with the Taliban rather than a multitude of competing warlords, each demanding a share of the profits." In his book, Rashid documents how an "immense narcotics trade had developed under the legitimizing umbrella of the CIA-ISI covert supply line to the Afghan mujaheddin." In other words, Reagan’s favored thugs were not only killing Soviets, but growing and selling opium that would eventually show up as heroin on the streets of America and Europe.
Now that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are official enemies, after billions of dollars of investment — and an undetermined amount of money earned by the CIA and the ISI in the Afghan drug trade — Bush is spending billions more to hunt ‘em down and smoke ‘em out in true Texas cowboy fashion. It is never mentioned by the Bush Ministry of Disinformation, who will undoubtedly and disgustingly play up the "all-American hero" end of Pat Tillman’s death, that the CIA created the "monster," as Selig Harrison termed it, currently killing Americans the same way it killed Soviets two decades ago.
For millions of Americans, conditioned daily by the corporate pro-war media, the Taliban and al-Qaeda came out of nowhere, a rabble of terrorists united simply by their undivided hatred of our way of life and revulsion for our so-called freedom, as Dubya the Christian Zionist Crusader would have it.
Never mentioned is the possibility that Pat Tillman was murdered by militant Islamic warriors trained by the CIA at Camp Peary, Virginia, also known as the "Farm" (see Giles Foden, Blowback chronicles, the Guardian, September 15, 2001). Instead of attributing Tillman’s death to blowback and failed policies, the Bushites wasted little time elevating the misguided and brainwashed football star’s "patriotism" to mythical proportions and, unfortunately, they have cynically exploited it as an example of selfless "sacrifice" in the "war on terrorism," in other words the neocon war against Islam in the name of Israel, oil, neoliberalism, and corporate carpetbaggerism. "Pat Tillman was an inspiration both on and off the football field," the White House declared soon after news of his death was released for public consumption. "As with all who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror, his family is in the thoughts and prayers of President and Mrs. Bush."
According to Tim Layden, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, Tillman "viewed life through a different prism than a lot of other people do." In fact, Pat Tillman viewed life precisely the same way millions of Americans do, that is to say he uncritically bought into Bush’s lies and warmongering. As if to underscore the complete lack of reality Americans endure, a poll conducted by the University of Maryland this week reveals that 82 percent of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda conspired together and Saddam had WMD, even though this fantasy was completely discredited months ago, most notably by the testimony of David Kay, the administration’s chief weapons inspector. Of this percentage, according to the poll, 72 percent said they would vote for Bush in November.
Down the road, as Bush continues and intensifies the occupation of Iraq and plots invasions of Syria and Iran, to name but two on the neocon hit list, more Pat Tillmans will arrive at Dover Air Force base in Delaware, victims who stared into Bush’s distorted and fractured prism one too many times.
As for their flag-draped coffins, don’t expect Fox News to show them.
KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/blogger.html . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books.
He can be reached at: email@example.com