Last week Peter Boraas, a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan with football star Pat Tillman, explained to about 60 people at the Isla Vista Theater, how he helped round-up all the older men in a nearby Afghan village in search of Tillman’s ambushers after Tillman was shot to death while on patrol in 2004. “We must have looked like cyborg soldiers with glaring eyes and lasers on our weapons,” Boraas recounted. One member of his patrol was particularly incensed about Tillman’s death, he explained, beating all the detainees as they boarded the truck taking them from the village. “If they weren’t terrorists before, they are now,” Boraas recalled thinking at the time.
Tillman, it turned out, was the victim of accidental friendly fire, not a terrorist sniper as had been initially reported.
Boraas participated in panel discussion along with UCSB professors Richard Falk and Mark Juergensmeyer. Falk described the troop-build up announced by Barack Obama as a “murderous waste,” predicting, “This will have the political effect of generating the security threat we’re supposed to be preventing.” Juergensmeyer, who was likewise critical of the escalation, suggested that Obama was hoping to leave Afghanistan in “more thoughtful fashion” than when the United States first attacked it in 2001. Of the war he helped fight, Boraas said, “I see it as a total waste. We’re just fighting ourselves.”