How A Compliant Lazy Media Helped Bush By Spinning the Jessica Lynch Rescue
Before Rummy and Hollywood get too far into the propaganda blitz surrounding the “rescue” of Jessica Lynch, it might be wise to hear from the medical staff that actually cared for her in the Baghdad hospital. The Toronto Star actually did something that an American paper would never do: go back and see if the Pentagon story of her ordeal can be corroborated. The Star’s investigation reveals a different story.
Precision teams of U.S. Army Rangers and Navy Seals, acting on intelligence information and supported by four helicopter gunships, ended Lynch's nine-day Iraqi imprisonment in true Rambo style, raising America's spirits when it needed it most. All Hollywood could ever hope to have in a movie was there in this extraordinary feat of rescue — except, perhaps, the truth.
So say three Nasiriya doctors, two nurses, one hospital administrator and local residents interviewed separately last week in a Toronto Star investigation. The medical team that cared for Lynch at the hospital formerly known as Saddam Hospital is only now beginning to appreciate how grand a myth was built around the four hours the U.S. raiding party spent with them early on April Fool's Day.
"The most important thing to know is that the Iraqi soldiers and commanders had left the hospital almost two days earlier," Houssona said. "The night they left, a few of the senior medical staff tried to give Jessica back. We carefully moved her out of intensive care and into an ambulance and began to drive to the Americans, who were just one kilometre away. But when the ambulance got within 300 metres, they began to shoot. There wasn't even a chance to tell them `We have Jessica. Take her.'"
Initial reports indicated Lynch had been shot and stabbed after emptying her weapon in a pitched battle when her unit, the U.S. Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, was ambushed after its convoy became lost near Nasiriya.
A few days after her release, Lynch's father told reporters none of the wounds were battle-related. The Iraqi doctors are more specific. Houssona said the injuries were blunt in nature, possible stemming from a fall from her vehicle.
How important was this rescue to the Bush Administration’s efforts to turn the tide of negative coverage of the war?
Critical. According to the BBC,
Mr. Rumsfeld told the president only the bare details about the rescue plan for POW Jessica Lynch, and he accepted that was right because "he didn't want any information to get out that might have jeopardised the operation".
Nevertheless, the "joyous" rescue - which was widely seen as a turning point by the media - corresponded with the president becoming much more visible to the public.
And the Pentagon did a good job of making the rescue out to be a tough assignment that required a diversion, a diversion it now turns out that was bogus since there were no Iraqi soldiers in the hospital when the “rescue” took place.
As commendable as it is for the Star to investigate this, journalist Richard Lloyd Parry had this story for the London Times three weeks ago. Yet, have you read or seen any similar account in our media since?
And now, according to the Pentagon, Jessica can’t talk about the ordeal due to a lack of memory.
OK. But it sounds like the Pentagon and NBC will fill in the blanks for you just fine.
After all, Bush’s friends at NBC, including cousin John Ellis who helped out with the Election Night 2000 fiasco will want this to come out just in time for the 2004 elections, regardless of whether or not the family wants the attention.