When Friendly Fire Comes From Friends (or Doesn't)


Heartbreaking article in today's Washington Post about a pro-Bush family who lost a son in combat, and then received a series of late and confusing reports about his exact cause of death. Excerpt:

Peggy Buryj asked everyone she could to help find out the details of her son's last hours. She even asked President Bush when she and other grieving parents met with him during a campaign stop in hotly contested Ohio. He promised to look into it. Soon afterward, she said, his campaign called and asked her to appear in a commercial for him, but she declined. […]

Peggy and Amber Buryj believe they were strung along because Jesse's death became a diplomatic embarrassment. Documents obtained by The Washington Post reveal one investigation that was abruptly terminated because of diplomatic concerns, another that was not shared with Polish allies, and delays in the release of official reports about Buryj's death. Those documents were not issued until after Bush was reelected—with the help of a slim margin in Buryj's home state of Ohio. […]

The final casualty report was prepared on Nov. 22, 2004, attributing Buryj's death to "hostile action." The death certificate said he died within "minutes" of sustaining the gunshot wound, but it listed the time of death as hours after the incident. The final autopsy report, dated Nov. 24, 2004, attributed the death to friendly fire, but Peggy Buryj didn't receive it until February. She says it was the first indication she had that her son was killed by friendly fire. One other inconsistency: The Army Safety Center officially lists Buryj as having died from U.S. friendly fire, according to an Army spokeswoman, though U.S. investigations rule out gunshots by Americans.