November 2, 2009

David Gregory talks to author Jon Krakauer about his new book 'Where Men Win Glory' and Gen. McChrystal's part in the cover up of Pat Tillman's death.

GREGORY: Jon Krakauer, I want to get to a key element of your book, "Where Men Win Glory," about Pat Tillman and how it relates to this current conversation about Afghanistan. Because it does involve General Stanley McChrystal, who was obviously critical on the stage now and was critical in the Tillman story of well. As a reminder, if you look at pictures of Pat Tillman, the NFL star with the Arizona Cardinals, decides to enlist in the Army, serves in the Rangers after 9/11. This was certainly a big story when he enlisted. And at the time, General McChrystal was actually head of Special Operations command.

So Pat Tillman was killed in a friendly fire incident and ultimately won the Silver Star, and that's what you focus on in the book and in a subsequent piece that you wrote for The Daily Beast. And here's what you wrote: "An October 5 Newsweek article [said, about General McChrystal] that `he has great political skills; he couldn't have risen to his current position without them.

But he definitelydoes not see himself as the sort of military man who would compromise his principles to do the politically convenient thing.' In the week after Tillman was killed, however, this is precisely what McChrystal appears to have done when he administered a fraudulent medical"--excuse me--"a fraudulent medal recommendation"--we're talking about the Silver Star--"and submitted it to the secretary of the Army, thereby concealing the cause of Tillman's death." Briefly explain what happened.

KRAKAUER: The--after Tillman died, the most important thing to know is that within--instantly, within 24 hours certainly, everybody on the ground, everyone intimately involved knew it was friendly fire. There's never any doubt it was friendly fire. McChrystal was told within 24 hours it was friendly fire. Also, immediately they started this paperwork to give Tillman a Silver Star.

And the Silver Star ended up being at the center of the cover-up. So McChrystal--Tillman faced this devastating fire from his own guys, and he tried to protect a young private by exposing himself to this, this fire. That's why he was killed and the private wasn't. Without friendly fire there's no valor, there's no Silver Star. There was no enemy fire, yet McChrystal authored, he closely supervised over a number of days this fraudulent medal recommendation that talked about devastating enemy fire.

GREGORY: And that's the important piece of it. And, and he actually testified earlier this year before the Senate, and this is what he said about it.

(Videotape, June 2, 2009)

LT. GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL: Now, what happens, in retrospect, is--and I would do this differently if I had the chance again--in retrospect they look contradictory, because we sent a Silver Star that was not well-written. And although I went through the process, I will tell you now I didn't review the citation well enough to capture--or I didn't catch that if you read it you could imply that it was not friendly fire.

GREGORY: Even those who were critical of him and the Army say they don't think he willfully deceived anyone.

KRAKAUER: That's correct. He, he just said now he didn't read this hugely important document about the most famous soldier in the military. He didn't read it carefully enough to notice that it talked about enemy fire instead of friendly fire? That's preposterous. That, that's not believable.

GREGORY: All right, part of this debate. Thank you all very much.

We'll continue our discussion with Jon Krakauer in our MEET THE PRESS Take Two Web Extra. Plus, read an excerpt from his book, "Where Men Win Glory." It's all on our Web site at And we'll be right back.

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