Staging Private Lynch

Joel Bleifuss

Who could forget the daring helicopter rescue of Private Jessica Lynch?“It was a classic joint operation, done by some of our nation’s finest warriors who are dedicated to never leaving a comrade behind,” said Gen. Vincent Brooks. It was also a classic Hollywood script “made by the Pentagon,” according to a May 18 BBC television documentary, War Spin.The BBC presents a convincing case that the rescue of Lynch was a staged propaganda stunt “timed for breakfast shows in America just when the news was bad and the talk was of a long, hard campaign.”Dr. Harith Al-Houssona tells the BBC that he admitted Lynch to Saddam Hospital in Nasiriya when the Iraqi security department brought her there. Contrary to U.S. military reports that she was stabbed and shot, Al-Houssona says that when he examined her, she had a broken arm, thigh and ankle but no other injuries.The BBC also interviewed a man who, prior to Lynch’s “rescue,” was questioned by the American military about the location of the hospital and whether it was occupied by Fedayeen irregulars. He told the BBC, “I said, ‘No, there aren’t any. There is no forces in there or anything.’ ”Al-Houssona related what he saw when U.S. soldiers stormed the hospital: “Like a film of Hollywood, they cry, ‘Go, go, go!’ … with guns and blanks, without bullets. Blanks and the sound of explosions, and break down the door. We are very scared. They make a show for the American attack for the hospital. Action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan … with jumping and shouting, breaking the door … with the photos, with the photos.”The BBC reports that it asked the Pentagon to release the full videotape of the rescue “to clear up any discrepancies,” but it declined.

Joel Bleifuss, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.

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