Jon Krakauer

  • Aired:  08/19/10
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Jon Krakauer explains how the Bush administration turned Pat Tillman's death into a propaganda tool. (7:04)

>> Stephen: WELCOME BACK,

EVERYBODY.

MY GUEST TONIGHT, JON KRAKAUER,

TELLS RIPPING YARNS OF TRUE

DANGER.

JIMMY, RELEASE THE KRAKAUER.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]

HEY, MR. KRAKAUER, GOOD TO SEE

YOU.

NICE TO MEET YOU.

>> PLEASURE IS MINE.

>> Stephen: NOW, I'M A BIG

FAN, READ A BUNCH OF YOUR STUFF.

I HAVEN'T READ THIS ONE YET.

WHEN I SAW THE TITLE HERE,

"WHERE MEN WIN GLORY," I

NATURALLY THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT

NASCAR.

[LAUGHTER]

THAT'S WHERE THEY DO IT.

THIS BOOK IS ACTUALLY ABOUT PAT

TILLMAN, WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM IN

THE WAR AND WHAT HAPPENED AFTER

HE DIED.

NOW, I REMEMBER A LITTLE BIT

ABOUT PAT.

HE WENT TO AFGHANISTAN.

HE WAS A POSSIBLE TO PLAYER,

WENT TO AFGHANISTAN AND WON A

SILVER STAR FOR CHARGING INTO

ENEMY FIRE AND SAVING HIS WHOLE

TROOP, YELLING, I THINK, REELECT

GEORGE BUSH.

>> IT'S SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT THAN

THAT.

>> Stephen: WHAT DID I GET

WRONG?

>> HE WASN'T CHARGING A HILL.

HE ACTUALLY DID PERHAPS SAVES

THE LIFE OF A COMRADE BECAUSE

HIS OWN PLATOON MATES WERE

SPRAYING HUNDREDS OF ROUNDS OF

MACHINE-GUN FIRE ALL AROUND HIM.

HE STOOD UP TO WAVE AND HE WAS

SHOT BY HIS OWN PLATOON MATES,

BUT AMERICANS.

>> Stephen: FRIENDLY FIREMENT

>> FRIENDLY FIRE.

AND THE SILVER STAR, THE WHOLE

STORY ABOUT THE TALIBAN CHARGING

THE HILL WAS CONCOCTED TO AVOID

REVEALING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

THAT THIS WAS FRIENDLY FIRE.

>> Stephen: WHAT YEAR ARE WE

TALKING HERE?

>> THIS IS APRIL 2004.

THINGS WERE REALLY BURNING BAD

FOR THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION.

BUSH WAS UP FOR REELECTION IN

SIX MONTHS.

POLL NUMBERS WERE GOING DOWN.

THE LAST THING THEY WANTED TO

ANNOUNCE WAS THEY SHOT THEIR

POSTER BOY.

THERE ARE E-MAILS FROM RUMSFELD

SAYING, WE WANT TO KEEP AN EYE

ON THIS GUY, MAKE THE MOST OF.

THIS THEY USED HIM SHAMELESSLY.

TILLMAN STOPPED TALKING TO THE

MEDIA WHEN HE DECIDED TO DO

THIS.

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS

TWISTING HIS ARM CONSTANTLY TO

SUPPORT THE WAR, AND HE WAS AN

EXEMPLARY SOLDIER.

>> Stephen: YOU CAN UNDERSTAND

WHY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION

WOULD DO IT BECAUSE YOU CAN'T

WIN A WAR WITHOUT SUPPORT FOR

THE WAR.

WE LEARNED THAT IN VIETNAM.

AND PAT TILLMAN WAS A

ADVERTISEMENT IN THE LEADERS OF

THE WAR OR THE MEN WHO ORDERED

THE WAR, PROVING TO THE YOUNG

PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT SWEETNESS

AND HONOR IT IS TO DIE FOR ONE'S

COUNTRY.

>> IT DIDN'T QUITE WORK.

>> Stephen: IT WORKED FOR A

WHILE.

>> IT WORKED FOR A LITTLE WHILE.

>> Stephen: HOW DID IT STOP

WORKING?

>> WHAT HAPPENED WAS THIS WHOLE

COVER-UP WAS ENGINEERED BY

GENERAL McCHRYSTAL.

>> Stephen: THE GUY WHO JUST

GOT KICKED OUT OF AFGHANISTAN?

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

IT WASN'T LET'S JUST KEEP OUR

MOUTH SHUT, IT WAS A VERY

AGGRESSIVE CONSPIRACY.

McCHRYSTAL DISPATCHED ARMY

LAWYERS TO OBSTRUCT AN

INVESTIGATION BY THE LAW

ENFORCEMENT AGENCY OF THE ARMY.

HE SUBMITTED THIS FRAUD LEPT

SILVER STAR RECOMMENDATION THAT

MADE NO MENTION FRIENDLY FIRE.

>> Stephen: HOW DID THIS COME

OUT?

>> THEY WEREN'T THINKING AHEAD.

THEY DID ALL THIS ELABORATE

STUFF TO COVER THIS UP, BUT

THERE WERE 200 GUYS IN TILLMAN'S

BATTALION, AND AFTER ABOUT FIVE

WEEKS, THEY CAME HOME FROM

AFGHANISTAN AND HIS COMMANDERS

WENT, HUH, THESE GUYS ARE GOING

TO TALK TO EACH OTHER, THEY'LL

GET DRUNK AND BE PISSED OFFER

AND SPILL THE BEANS.

SO THEY WAITED UNTIL MEMORIAL

DAY WEEKEND WHEN NO ONE IS

WATCHING TV AND THEY HELD A

PRESS CONFERENCE AT 9:00 A.M.

THAT NO ONE SAW.

AND THEY SAID, HE MIGHT HAVE

BEEN KILLED BY FRIENDLY FIRE.

IT'S THE ONLY SINGLE TIME BEFORE

OUR SINCE THAT THE BUSH

ADMINISTRATION MADE ANY

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT HE WAS

KILLED BY FRIENDLY FIRE.

>> Stephen: WHY TALK ABOUT

THIS?

BECAUSE IF... SIX MINUTES AGO I

THOUGHT PAT TILLMAN WAS AN

EXAMPLE OF A GOOD REASON TO GO

BE A WARRIOR.

>> HE IS.

>> Stephen: HE IS?

>> HE IS.

>> Stephen: NOW YOU MAKE ME

FEEL LIKE IF I GO TO WAR, I

MIGHT GET KILLED FOR THE WRONG

REASONS AND BY THE WRONG PEOPLE.

>> THAT'S A DISTINCT POSSIBILITY

IN EVERY WAR.

>> Stephen: OF YOU JUST TAKEN

THE SHINE OFF OF COMBAT FOR ME.

A SECOND AGO I WAS SUPER EXCITED

ABOUT THE IRAQ WAR.

I BELIEVE IN A STRONG MILITARY.

I WAS EMBEDDED FOR FIVE MONTHS

IN AFGHANISTAN.

I WAS BLOWN AWAY.

I CAME AWAY FOR SUCH ADMIRATION

FOR THE 1% OF THIS COUNTRY

THAT'S SERVED IN THESE WARS.

THESE GUYS, IT IS SUCH HARD JOB.

I'M NOT EVEN TALKING ABOUT THE

DANGER, AND HOW DO WE REPAY

THEM?

HOW DO YOU REPAY SOMEONE LIKE

TILLMAN WHO OUT OF A SENSE OF

DUTY AND PATRIOTISM, HE JOINED

THE ARMY AND THE GUY'S IN THE

ARMY, THE ARMY ITSELF, YOU KNOW,

HIJACKED HIS HONOR.

HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THAT?

IT'S LIKE IF YOU CRITICIZE THAT

YOU'RE NOT A PATRIOT, ALL THIS

STUFF THAT DRIVES ME CRAZY.

IT'S PATRIOTIC...

>> Stephen: WOULD YOU ACCEPT

AT ALL THAT THOSE GUYS WERE

ACTUALLY TRYING TO HONOR HIM?

>> NO.

>> Stephen: WHY?

THEY MADE HIS DEATH MORE

MEANINGFUL.

>> TILLMAN WAS ALL ABOUT

HONESTY.

HE COULD NOT TELL A LIE.

HE BELIEVED THAT HE KEPT HIS...

HE HAD A CHANCE TO GET OUT OF

THE ARMY.

HE SERVED IN IRAQ, A WAR THAT HE

SAID WAS ILLEGAL AS HELL.

WHEN HE JOINED THE ARMY, HE

DIDN'T KNOW BUSH WAS GOING TO

INVADE IRAQ.

HE DID HIS DUTY AND CAME BACK.

HIS AGENT SAID, THE SEATTLE

SEAHAWKS WANT TO SIGN YOU.

YOU'VE DONE A TOUR, THE NFL AND

THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT ARE IN

BED TOGETHER, IT'S A DONE DEAL.

>> Stephen: THE NFL AND THE

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT WERE PLAYING

FTSE WITH EACH OTHER?

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

>> Stephen: NFL GETS

FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK?

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

THAT'S HOW IT ALL CAME ABOUT.

SO TILLMAN WOULDN'T EVEN

CONSIDER IT.

HE SAID, NO, I SIGNED UP FOR

THREE YEARS, I'LL SERVE MY THREE

YEARS.

FOUR MONTHS LATER HE WAS IN

AFGHANISTAN AND SHOT BY HIS OWN

GUYS.

SO THIS IS THE MOST HONORABLE,

PATRIOTIC GUY YOU CAN THINK OF,

AND THIS IS HOW HE'S REPAID.

HE BECAME A PROPAGANDA TOOL.

>> Stephen: HOW DO YOU THINK

WE SHOULD REPAY THE MEN AND

WOMEN WHO HAVE SERVED IN IRAQ

AND AFGHANISTAN FOR THE PAST

SEVEN YEARS, NINE YEARS FOR

AFGHANISTAN?

>> WE OWE THEM A HUGE DEBT.

IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO THANK THEM

ENOUGH.

WE SHOULD SUPPORT VETERANS

BENEFITS.

THERE'S SOMETHING CALLED THE PAT

TILLMAN FOUNDATION,

PATTILLMAN.ORG THAT HIS WIDOW

STARTED.

THAT'S A GREAT PLACE TO START.

THE GUYS ARE COMING BACK, A LOT

OF THEM ARE ALL [BLEEPED] UP

FROM I.E.D.s.

THEY HAVE TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

AND P.T.S.D.

THEY COME BACK AND THEY'RE

TRYING TO FIT IN.

YOU GOT TO JUST THINK ABOUT IT.

THIS ISN'T...

>> Stephen: I TELL YOU WHAT

THEY DON'T NEED, FILTHY TALK.

THEY'D BE SHOCKED TO HEAR YOU

DROP THE F-BOMB.

THEY'VE BEEN AT WAR, NOT IN A

SALOON, SIR.

MR. KRAKAUER, THANK YOU SO MUCH

FOR COMING ON.

THE BOOK

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