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General's rank could be reduced in Tillman probe

  • Story Highlights
  • Retired Gen. Kensinger accused of misleading Tillman investigators
  • Official: Kensinger said he didn't know about friendly fire incident until after 2004
  • Pentagon officials: Army secretary may recommend reducing Kensinger's rank
  • Former pro football player Tillman killed by fellow troops in Afghanistan in 2004
  • Next Article in U.S. »
From Jamie McIntyre
CNN Washington Bureau
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A retired three-star general criticized for misleading investigators probing the controversial death of Cpl. Pat Tillman could be stripped of a star and face a decrease in retirement pension, Pentagon officials told CNN.

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Retired Lt. Gen. Phillip Kensinger's three-star rank could be cut to two stars, according to Army officials.

Retired Lt. Gen. Phillip Kensinger misled investigators when he said he did not know until after Tillman's 2004 memorial service that Tillman's death in Afghanistan was likely the result of "friendly fire," said acting Defense Department Inspector General Thomas Gimble.

"We didn't find that credible. We found evidence that he knew in the April time frame," Gimble said.

Three Pentagon officials have told CNN that Army Secretary Pete Geren may recommend reducing Kensinger's rank to major general.

The reduction in rank would decrease Kensinger's monthly pension by about $1,000 and reduce his current three-star rank to two stars, according to Army officials.

The Pentagon officials, who spoke anonymously to CNN because no final decision has been made, said Geren has consulted Army attorneys about the best way to take the punitive action against Kensinger. Video Watch more about Gen. Kensinger's role in the Tillman probe »

Should that disciplinary action come to fruition, the sources said it would prove more severe than the separate recommendation of a four-star general who is about to mete out punishment in the case.

The developments come amid calls by the House Oversight Committee on four former White House staff members to talk about when and how the Bush administration knew that Tillman, a former pro football player, was killed by friendly fire.

Last March the acting Pentagon inspector general faulted nine Army officers -- including Kensinger -- for making critical errors in reporting the death of Tillman, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2004.

Next Tuesday, Gen. William Wallace, commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine command, is expected to hand down his decision on punishments.

CNN has learned that all of the officers will receive some kind of reprimand, but none will face criminal charges.

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But in addition to a formal reprimand, Kensinger may also get a "Letter of Censure" from Geren, a harsher rebuke that could likely lead to the reduction in rank.

Such a punitive action would have to be approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, army officials say. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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