(CBS News) WASHINGTON Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld defended himself and took no personal responsibility Wednesday for the military’s bungled response to Army Ranger Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld, in his first public appearance before Congress since President Bush replaced him with Robert Gates late last year, reiterated previous testimony to investigators that he did not have early knowledge that Tillman was cut down by fellow Rangers, not by enemy militia, as was initially claimed.
Tillman’s death attracted widespread public attention because he walked away from a lucrative career in professional football to join the Army after the Sept. 11 attacks. Many Democrats and some members of his family suspect a cover-up of the reason for his death that reached all the way to the White House. Rumsfeld told a House committee hearing that he had always impressed upon Pentagon subordinates the importance of telling the truth.