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Pat Tillman's mother on critics of her family: 'screw these people'

Last week I had the privilege of a long, frank talk with Pat Tillman's mother, Mary, to coincide with the opening Friday of a movie about his life and the aftermath of his death.

Here is a newspaper article I wrote about it, but there was much I had to leave out - just as the filmmakers had to leave out many details of the saga for the sake of length and clarity.

One of her most powerful quotes - only parts of which made it into the newspaper - was about the frustration of hearing from critics that the family should just move on six years after Tillman's death.

"Any normal family would think something was really amiss," she said. "But people think we’re crazy and media whores and all this kind of stuff and it's very upsetting.

"But you get to the point where it's like, well, screw these people, they really don't know what we're dealing with. So you have ignore their recation to it."

There is one interesting related story from Ms. Tillman that I didn't have the space to get into in the printed version of Newsday.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who recently resigned under pressure as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, played a key role in the Tillman coverup. In 2004 he was among the first high-ranking military officials to learn that Tillman was killed by friendly fire, and he sent a memo warning the White House not to publicly describe his death as being a result of enemy fire.

He did not, however, encourage officials to inform Tillman's family of the circumstances.

In 2009, when McChrystal was being considered for the top job in Afghanistan, Mary Tillman contacted President Obama urging that he carefully vet the general.

"I emailed and wrote him a very short correspondence and said, 'Please scrutinize this man,' and of course that didn't happen," she said.

"He was a shoo-in. He wasn't questioned about anything with any passion."

In the foreword to the paperback release of her 2008 book about her son, Mary wrote about the McChrystal resignation but was careful not to use the words, "I told you so."

When that phrase turned up as a headline on a Los Angeles Times excerpt of the foreword, she was "outraged."

"In a sense I am saying I told you so," she said, "but I did not want to appear arrogant or snarky about it."

Tags: Pat Tillman

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