Friday, May 18, 2007

General Questioned About Tillman Case

Congressional investigators have asked a general what punishment was given to an Army officer who investigated the death of former NFL star Pat Tillman and later made remarks that offended his family.

The query came in a letter Wednesday from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has been investigating the circumstances surrounding Tillman's "friendly fire" death in Afghanistan in 2004.

The panel's chairman, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), and ranking Republican, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), asked Maj. Gen. Carter F. Ham about remarks by Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich questioning the religious faith of Tillman's parents.

"We believe these statements were crass, insulting to the Tillman family, and completely inappropriate for an Army officer and an official representative of the U.S. military speaking to the press," Waxman and Davis wrote.

Kauzlarich was serving in Afghanistan in May 2004 when he was tapped to investigate Tillman's death. He concluded Tillman's fellow Army Rangers shot him during a chaotic ambush.

Acting Defense Department Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble told Waxman's committee last month that he "was shocked by" Kauzlarich's comments but did not investigate them.

Dental-Care Measure Honors Boy Who Died

A children's dental-health-care bill named in memory of Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old Prince George's County boy who died in February because of a tooth infection, was introduced in Congress.

"Deamonte's Law" was introduced by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.). It would establish two five-year, $5 million pilot programs meant to improve poor children's access to dental care. The first program would provide money to staff and equip dental clinics at community health centers; the second would help recruit and train pediatric dentists.

The boy's death has drawn attention to the barriers many children on Medicaid encounter in trying to get dental treatment, prompting calls for reform and inspiring legislation on the state and national level, including Cummings's bill.

"I simply cannot comprehend how, in this country where we have achieved so much progress, we so thoroughly failed this little boy," Cummings said in a statement.

House Defies Bush On Guantanamo Issue

Shrugging off a possible veto from President Bush, the House demanded that the administration develop a plan to transfer detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The 220 to 208 vote came on an amendment to a bill authorizing defense programs that the Democratic-led House passed overwhelmingly. The Senate has yet to act, and then the two versions will have to be reconciled.

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