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House panel to probe reports on Tillman, Jessica Lynch

Story Highlights

• Committee to seek information on inaccurate accounts of heroics
• Tillman killed in in Afghanistan, Lynch rescued from Iraqi hospital
• Later reports showed Tillman killed by friendly fire, Lynch's rescuers unchallenged
• Tillman relatives, Lynch expected to testify at April 24 hearing
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A House committee announced Tuesday it will examine how the Pentagon ended up spreading false stories about the capture of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch and the death of NFL star-turned-soldier Pat Tillman.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to take up those cases in an April 24 hearing, the panel announced Tuesday. The hearing will feature testimony from Lynch and relatives of Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.

The House committee "will examine why inaccurate accounts of these two incidents were disseminated, the sources and motivations for the accounts, and whether the appropriate administration officials have been held accountable," its leaders said in a written statement Tuesday.

The committee, led by California Democrat Henry Waxman, has held several high-profile hearings into the management of the war effort in Iraq and other issues since Democrats took over Congress in January.

Lynch was a private first class with a maintenance company that came under fire in the early days of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Pentagon reported that she was shot and stabbed during a fierce firefight with Iraqi troops in which 11 of her comrades were killed.

She became a celebrity after U.S. troops stormed the hospital where she was being held and rescued her in what American commanders said at the time was a dangerous, daring raid.

But hospital staff said no Iraqi troops were in the hospital at the time, and they had unsuccessfully tried to turn Lynch over to American forces earlier. Lynch later turned out to have suffered broken bones when her vehicle crashed during the battle; her weapon was jammed with sand and she never fired a shot.

She later told ABC News that she was bothered by the way the military publicized her rescue, which was filmed. In 2003, a senior defense official said that news outlets, not the military, were responsible for any inaccuracies in her story.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department announced in March that nine military officers, including four generals, face "corrective action" in connection with Tillman's death. (Full story)

Tillman was a safety with the Arizona Cardinals when he passed up a multimillion-dollar contract to join the Army in 2002, after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. He was a corporal with the service's elite Rangers when he was killed during an ambush in an Afghan mountain pass in April 2004.

The Army posthumously awarded Tillman the Silver Star, the third-highest U.S. combat decoration, announcing that he had been killed leading a counterattack. But it later admitted that officers in his chain of command knew almost immediately that he had been shot accidentally by his own comrades.


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