Saving Private Lynch
- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Thursday, 15 May, 2003
Saving Private Lynch story 'flawed'
Private Lynch has lost her memory of her rescue
By John Kampfner
Private Jessica Lynch became an icon of the war, and the story of her
capture by the Iraqis and her rescue by US special forces became one
of the great patriotic moments of the conflict.
But her story is one of the most stunning pieces of news management
There was no [sign of] shooting, no bullet inside her body, no stab
Dr Harith a-Houssona
Private Lynch, a 19-year-old army clerk from Palestine, West
Virginia, was captured when her company took a wrong turning just
outside Nasiriya and was ambushed.
Nine of her comrades were killed and Private Lynch was taken to the
local hospital, which at the time was swarming with Fedayeen. Eight
days later US special forces stormed the hospital, capturing
the "dramatic" events on a night vision camera.
They were said to have come under fire from inside and outside the
building, but they made it to Lynch and whisked her away by
Dr a-Houssona found no bullet wounds
Reports claimed that she had stab and bullet wounds and that she had
been slapped about on her hospital bed and interrogated.
But Iraqi doctors in Nasiriya say they provided the best treatment
they could for the soldier in the midst of war. She was assigned the
only specialist bed in the hospital and one of only two nurses on the
"I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken thigh and a
dislocated ankle," said Dr Harith a-Houssona, who looked after her.
"There was no [sign of] shooting, no bullet inside her body, no stab
wound - only road traffic accident. They want to distort the picture.
I don't know why they think there is some benefit in saying she has a
Witnesses told us that the special forces knew that the Iraqi
military had fled a day before they swooped on the hospital.
Dr Uday was surprised by the manner of the rescue
"We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military, there were no
soldiers in the hospital," said Dr Anmar Uday, who worked at the
"It was like a Hollywood film. They cried 'go, go, go', with guns and
blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made
a show for the American attack on the hospital - action movies like
Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan."
There was one more twist. Two days before the snatch squad arrived,
Harith had arranged to deliver Jessica to the Americans in an
But as the ambulance, with Private Lynch inside, approached a
checkpoint American troops opened fire, forcing it to flee back to
the hospital. The Americans had almost killed their prize catch.
Some brave souls put their lives on the line to make this happen
General Vincent Brooks
When footage of the rescue was released, General Vincent Brooks, US
spokesman in Doha, said: "Some brave souls put their lives on the
line to make this happen, loyal to a creed that they know that
they'll never leave a fallen comrade."
The American strategy was to ensure the right television footage by
using embedded reporters and images from their own cameras, editing
the film themselves.
The Pentagon had been influenced by Hollywood producers of reality TV
and action movies, notably the man behind Black Hawk Down, Jerry
Bruckheimer advised the Pentagon on the primetime television
series "Profiles from the Front Line", that followed US forces in
Afghanistan in 2001. That approached was taken on and developed on
the field of battle in Iraq.
As for Private Lynch, her status as cult hero is stronger than ever.
Internet auction sites list Jessica Lynch items, from an oil painting
with an opening bid of $200 to a $5 "America Loves Jessica Lynch"
But doctors now say she has no recollection of the whole episode and
probably never will.
Saving Private Lynch: Take 2
The rescue was pure Hollywood. In other words, it was a well-marketed
May 20, 2003 - In the 1998 film "Wag the Dog," political operatives
employ special editing techniques to create phony footage that will
engender public sympathy for a manufactured war. Now we find that in
2003 the real-life Pentagon's ability and willingness to manipulate
the facts make Hollywood's story lines look tame.
After a thorough investigation, the British Broadcasting Corp. has
presented a shocking dissection of the "heroic" rescue of Pvt.
Jessica Lynch, as reported by the U.S. military and a breathless
"Her story is one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever
conceived," the BBC concluded - the polite British way of
saying "liar, liar, pants on fire."
Though the Bush administration's shamelessly trumped-up claims about
Iraq's alleged ties to Al Qaeda and 9/11 and its weapons of mass
destruction take the cake for deceitful propaganda - grand strategic
lies that allow the United States' seizure of Iraq's oil to appear to
be an act of liberation - the sad case of Lynch's exploitation at the
hands of military spinners illustrates that the truth once again was
a casualty of war.
Lynch, who says she has no memory of the events in question, has
suffered enough in the line of duty without being reduced to a
Sadly, almost nothing fed to reporters about either Lynch's original
capture by Iraqi forces or her "rescue" by U.S. forces turns out to
be true. Consider the April 3 Washington Post story on her capture
headlined "She Was Fighting to the Death," which reported, based on
unnamed military sources, that Lynch "continued firing at the Iraqis
even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds," adding that she
was also stabbed when Iraqi forces closed in.
It has since emerged that Lynch was neither shot nor stabbed, but
rather suffered accident injuries when her vehicle overturned. A
medical checkup by U.S. doctors confirmed the account of the Iraqi
doctors, who said they had carefully tended her injuries, a broken
arm and thigh and a dislocated ankle, in contrast to U.S. media
reports that doctors had ignored Lynch.
Another report spread by news organizations nationwide claimed Lynch
was slapped by an Iraqi security guard, and the U.S. military later
insisted that an Iraqi lawyer witnessed this incident and informed
them of Lynch's whereabouts. His credibility as a source, however, is
difficult to verify because he and his family were whisked to the
U.S., where he was immediately granted political asylum and has
refused all interview requests. His future was assured with a job
with a lobbying firm run by former Republican Rep. Bob Livingstone
that represents the defense industry and a $500,000 book contract
with HarperCollins, a company owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox
network did much to hype Lynch's story, as it did the rest of the
But where the manipulation of this saga really gets ugly is in the
premeditated manufacture of the rescue itself, which stains those who
have performed real acts of bravery, whether in war or peacetime.
Eight days after her capture, American media trumpeted the military's
story that Lynch was saved by Special Forces that stormed the
hospital and, in the face of heavy hostile fire, managed to scoop her
up and helicopter her out.
However, according to the BBC, which interviewed the hospital's
staff, the truth appears to be that not only had Iraqi forces
abandoned the area before the rescue effort but that the hospital's
staff had informed the U.S. of this and made arrangements two days
before the raid to turn Lynch over to the Americans. "But as the
ambulance, with Pvt. Lynch inside, approached the checkpoint,
American troops opened fire, forcing it to flee back to the hospital.
The Americans had almost killed their prize catch," the BBC reported.
"We were surprised," Dr. Anmar Uday told the BBC about the supposed
rescue. "There was no military, there were no soldiers in the
hospital. It was like a Hollywood film. [The U.S. forces] cried 'Go,
go, go,' with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound
of explosions," Uday said. "They made a show for the American attack
on the hospital - [like] action movies [starring] Sylvester Stallone
or Jackie Chan."
The footage from the raid, shot not by journalists but by soldiers
with night-vision cameras, was fed in real time to the central
command in Qatar. The video was artfully edited by the Pentagon and
released as proof that a battle to free Lynch had occurred when it
This fabrication has already been celebrated by an A&E special and
will soon be an NBC movie. The Lynch rescue story - a made-for-TV bit
of official propaganda - will probably survive as the war's most
heroic moment, despite proving as fictitious as the stated rationales
for the invasion itself.
If the movies, books and other renditions of "saving Private Lynch"
were to be honestly presented, it would expose this caper as merely
one in a series of egregious lies marketed to us by the Bush
Pentagon calls BBC's Lynch allegations 'ridiculous'
Report said commando raid was unnecessarily theatric
From Jamie McIntyre
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Any charge that the U.S. military misrepresented
the facts of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch's rescue April 1 from an Iraqi
hospital to make the mission appear more dramatic or heroic is "void
of all facts and absolutely ridiculous" the Pentagon said Monday.
Responding to a BBC report that called the Pentagon accounts of the
rescue "one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever
conceived," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, "I think that
allegation is ridiculous, I don't know how else to respond. The idea
that we would put a number of forces in danger unnecessarily to
recover one of our POWs is just ridiculous."
The then-19-year-old Lynch and five fellow members of the Army's
507th Maintenance Company were taken prisoner March 23 outside
Nasiriya, Iraq. (Story of other survivors)
A week later, acting on intelligence information, U.S. Special Forces
led a team of Marines, Army Rangers, Navy SEALs and airmen went into
the hospital to rescue Lynch.
The BBC report quoted witnesses and hospital officials as stating the
United States knew that there were no Iraqi forces at the hospital
when it conducted the commando raid, and that the United States
special operations forces had used Hollywood theatrics, including
blank ammunition, to make a show of rescuing private Lynch.
The Pentagon said no blanks were used, and all procedures employed
were consistent with the "tactics, techniques and procedures"
normally employed by U.S. forces when there is a perceived threat of
encountering hostile forces.
"We don't want to take unnecessary risk. We do make sure that when we
exercise military force we use the right resources, sufficient to get
the job done. It is a decision made by the commander on the ground,"
Whitman told CNN.
"We were able to snatch her and without any loss of life."
Pentagon: Military never said rescuers took fire
The Pentagon spokesman also said the United States military never
claimed the rescue force came under fire when it burst into the
hospital, but it did say U.S. troops supporting the mission exchanged
"There was not a firefight inside of the building, I will tell you,
but there were firefights outside of the building, getting in and
getting out," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy director of
operations, said at an briefing in Doha, Qatar, on April 2.
John Kampfner, the veteran BBC correspondent behind the documentary,
said his reporting was based on interviews he conducted in Nasiriya
after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Kampfner also told CNN that he requested the Pentagon's raw footage
of the rescue operation in an effort to verify the U.S. account. He
said the Pentagon declined his request.
The BBC report also questioned the various accounts of Lynch's
At the April 2 briefing, the military did not release the nature of
Lynch's injuries or say how she obtained them.
Whitman said speculative reports in the news media, not Pentagon
pronouncements, were responsible for some of the misinformation
surrounding Lynch's story, including a Washington Post account that
she had expended all of her ammunition before being captured.
"Certain facts about what happened to other soldiers got confused
with what may have happened to Jessica," Whitman said.
'She never told us' what happened
The Pentagon never released an account of what happened to Lynch
because it didn't have an account, Whitman said. "She never told us."
Lynch suffered a head laceration and spinal injury, and both her legs
and her right arm and foot were broken during her ordeal in Iraq.
According to authorities, she cannot recall details from the time she
was ambushed in Iraq to a point during her captivity there.
Although Whitman acknowledged that in retrospect it might have been
possible for the U.S. military to drive up to the hospital and take
Lynch, he noted that that was not known at the time.
"If we had good knowledge we could drive in and take her out, we
certainly would have done that rather than a joint operation. We
don't look to do them in a more difficult, complex way," he said.
"It's not up to me to second guess, but I can't imagine we would have
done anything differently."