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imperialism & war

The Rambo That Wasn't

"They made a show," said Dr Anmar Uday, who saw it happen, "an action
movie, like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and
shouting, breaking down doors."
From The Sydney Morning Herald, 11/9/03:

The Rambo who wasn't

The Pentagon turned Private Jessica Lynch into a female Rambo.

Now the former soldier says she never fired a shot and was certainly
no hero.

Gerard Wright reports.

No one looked at the calendar until much later.

All they knew was that on that date - in a daring nocturnal raid,
fortuitously captured by a video camera with night vision - US Special
Forces soldiers rescued one of their own with guns blazing,
helicopters hovering and the enemy apparently resisting ferociously.

"They made a show," said Dr Anmar Uday, who saw it happen, "an action
movie, like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and
shouting, breaking down doors."

Official and unofficial Pentagon statements say Private Jessica Lynch
fought until the last bullet after her 507th Maintenance Company drove
into an ambush in the Iraqi town of Nasiriyah on March 23.

Eleven of her colleagues were killed.

Six were captured.

Lynch, suffering from bullet and stab wounds, was a prisoner of war in
a heavily guarded hospital.

Then she was rescued.

It was all there on film.

The date was April 1 and America had itself a war hero.

The hero has finally spoken, and the story of the capture and rescue
of Private Lynch is unravelling like hasty knitting.

Her gun jammed before she could fire a shot.

Her injuries were from the crash of the Humvee she was riding in.

Iraqi doctors saved her life.

"I'm not about to take credit for something I didn't do," Lynch said,
in a television interview to be broadcast in the US on Tuesday.

"I did not shoot, not a round, nothing ... I went down praying to my
knees. And that's the last I remember."

Propaganda didn't get better than this: a blonde heroine, short and
slight, from a town called Palestine, West Virginia.

Jessica Lynch joined the army to help pay for her university

She is not happy with her new life as a military fable.

"It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no
truth about," Lynch told interviewer Diane Sawyer.

"Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four
people on my vehicle aren't here to tell the story. So I would have
been the only one able to say, 'yeah, I went down shooting'. But I

Asked if the Pentagon's portrayal of her rescue bothered her, Lynch
replied, "Yeah, it does. It bothers me that they used me as a way to
symbolise this stuff. Yeah, it's wrong."

The television interview was timed to coincide with the release of
Lynch's biography, I Am A Soldier, Too by Pulitzer prize-winner Rick

Lynch was reportedly paid $1 million for the rights to her story by
the Knopf Publishing Group of New York.

As with everything else about the story of Jessica Lynch, who received
a medical discharge from the army in July, the book's most
controversial claim - that Lynch was raped and sodomised after her
capture - is not standing up well to scrutiny.

Lynch has received the military's award for those wounded in combat,
the Purple Heart.

Bragg's prose is of a matching hue.

"The records do not tell whether her captors assaulted her almost
lifeless, broken body after she was lifted from the wreckage," he
wrote, "or if they assaulted her and then broke her bones into
splinters until she was almost dead."

Dr Mahdi Khafaji, an orthopedic surgeon who operated on Lynch's broken
femur at Nasiriyah's main hospital, said he saw no signs of sexual
assault during an extensive pre-surgery examination.

In her interview, Lynch said she had no recollection of a sexual

"Even the thinking about it, that's too painful," she said.

Lynch had broken bones in her right arm, right leg, and ankle.

She was also bleeding heavily from a 10- to 20-centimetre wound on the
left side of her head and near death from the loss of blood.

"We gave her three bottles of blood, two of them from the medical
staff because there was no blood at this time," said another doctor
who cared for Lynch.

Soon after her surgery, Lynch was moved to another hospital, the
Saddam Hospital.

There she was seen by Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, a local lawyer.

In the NBC movie, Saving Jessica Lynch, to be shown tonight across
America, Al-Rehaief says he saw Lynch being interrogated and slapped
in her hospital bed.

"My heart was cut," he said.

"I tried to forget what I saw, but I couldn't."

Lynch has denied any ill-treatment by the Iraqis.

"From the time I woke up in that hospital, no one beat me, no one
slapped me, no one, nothing. I'm so thankful for those people, because
that's why I'm alive today."

Lynch had told her Iraqi doctors she wanted American medical care.

On March 30, she was placed in an ambulance and driven to an American
military command post.

The ambulance was fired upon and returned to the hospital.

The following day, the last of the Iraqi soldiers left the hospital.

Meanwhile, Al-Rehaief found a group of American marines near Nasiriyah
and told them what he saw.

They persuaded him to return and map the hospital.

Al-Rehaief said he did, barely escaping with his life.

Al-Rehaief's charitable endeavour has been repaid.

He and his wife and daughter were granted asylum in the US four weeks
after Lynch's rescue.

Since his arrival in the US, Al-Rehaief has received a book deal,
employment with a lobbying firm run by a former Republican congressman
and was a consultant on Saving Jessica Lynch - the "docu-drama" whose
star is now telling a very different story.