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Saving Private Lynch

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com http://news.bbc.co.uk/ Thursday, 15 May, 2003
    Message 1 of 1 , May 30, 2003
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Thanks,
      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist
      http://www.konformist.com


      http://news.bbc.co.uk/

      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
      ever conceived.

      There was no [sign of] shooting, no bullet inside her body, no stab
      wound
      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
      helicopter.

      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
      floor.

      "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.

      Jessica amnesia

      "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
      bullet injury."

      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
      hospital.

      "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
      ambulance.

      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.

      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"
      fridge magnet.

      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
      fiction.
      Robert Scheer

      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
      American press.

      "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
      propaganda pawn.

      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
      war.

      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
      had not.

      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
      administration.

      *****

      Pentagon calls BBC's Lynch allegations 'ridiculous'
      Report said commando raid was unnecessarily theatric
      From Jamie McIntyre
      CNN Washington Bureau
      5-19-2003

      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
      fire nearby.

      "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
      injuries.

      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."
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