Private Jessica Lynch, a 20-year old Army specialist, returned to her people in Palestine on Tuesday, nearly four months after her dramatic 'rescue' by US soldiers from a hospital bed in Nasiriyah, Iraq. Lynch, who was allegedly a prisoner of the Iraqi military for a brief period, was returned to a hometown West Virginia reception adorned with bunting and complete with marching bands and a speech by the mayor. The whole town, along with hundreds of world media and millions of viewers, turned out for the spectacle.
Lynch's brother, also an Army PFC, welcomed his sister back, calling Lynch his role model. He said he was "heart-strucken" when he learned his sister had been injured and taken prisoner in Iraq.
Lynch was traveling with the 507th Maintenance Company on March 23 when her convoy took a wrong turn near Nasiriyah. American bombs had been dropping on Iraq in earnest for three days and tens of thousands of US troops were sweeping into the country across hundreds of miles of desert, stretching supply lines and defenses thin. Eleven soldiers in Lynch's unit were killed in the attack, deemed an 'ambush' by US commanders and the media, despite the war. Five others, including Lynch, were taken prisoner.
Lynch's vehicle was said to have been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and flipped over. She allegedly sustained life threatening bullet and stab wounds in the fight, as well as multiple broken bones.
On April 1, US soldiers are said to have rescued Lynch after an Iraqi informant tipped them off to her heavily defended hospital location. A violent firefight is said to have ensued, with US troops exploding their way into the hospital to remove Lynch on a stretcher to a waiting helicopter, just ahead of the Iraqi Fedayeen. US military members shot the whole thing on night vision cameras, releasing the video to media outlets for public airing.
Doctors and medical staff at the hospital later told John Kampfner, a BBC reporter who visited Nasiriyah, that Lynch's wounds were not life-threatening. They also told Kampfner that the Iraqi military had left the area the day before US troops arrived. Other investigative reports said that the vehicle Lynch was riding in rolled over rather than being attacked by a grenade.
Kampfner's May 15 article, published by the BBC, called the official version of events "one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived."
"I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken thigh and a dislocated ankle," said Dr Harith a-Houssona, who treated Lynch. "There was no 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 said that the American troops used blanks and fake explosives and knew beforehand that no Iraqi military remained at the hospital.
The doctor also said that Lynch was given preferential treatment at the hospital, which like all Iraqi hospitals, has extremely meager medical supplies and equipment after years of war and a decade of crippling economic sanctions.
Perhaps the most revealing episode of all is that Iraqi medical personnel attempted to return Lynch to American hands, with nearly disastrous results. They loaded Lynch into an ambulance and drove toward an American checkpoint. The ambulance was forced to turn back when the US military opened fire on it, threatening the lives of all the occupants.
Lynch herself is said to have suffered severe head wounds in the attack and to be unable to remember anything from before her injuries until sometime after her capture. Just what Lynch can and cannot remember is likely to become an important fact in the coming weeks. She has not been allowed to speak to the media, which has overwhelmingly failed to remove the veil from the Jessica Lynch lies, choosing instead to make Lynch a ratings bonanza and "national hero".
The military has refused to release its unedited tape of the 'rescue'.
All of this led Karl Noyes of the Minnesota Daily to write, "Somehow I doubt Newsweek and People will ever run cover stories debunking 'Saving Private Lynch.' The reports of the truth behind the Jessica Lynch story were buried in the back pages if covered at all. Television refused to acknowledge Lynch's story could have happened any other way. If news outlets are to have any value at all, lies disseminated to the public with fervor would be exposed and denounced with the same fervor." ( http://www.mndaily.com/articles/2003/06/11/6059 )
Today in small town West Virginia, Lynch spoke to the media for the first time, never veering from a short script she held in her trembling hand. Among others, Lynch thanked the Iraqi people who saved her life. A family spokesman said Lynch is so proud of serving in the US Army that she expects to seek a discharge.
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