Saving Private Jessica — the sequel

by Yule Heibel on May 4, 2003

“Until such time as she wants to talk — and that’s going to be no time soon, and it may be never at all — the press is simply going to have to wait.”
– U.S. Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Ryan Yantis commenting last week about Priv. Jessica Lynch, recovering behind closed doors at Washington’s Walter Reed Army Medical Centre.

The Toronto Star’s Mitch Potter, however, has been talking to the hospital staff and doctors in Nasiriya, where Priv. Lynch was being treated, and their side of the story is markedly different than the familiar “Saving Private Jessica” scenario we know. Almost two days before the Rambo-style raid by the U.S. army, Iraqi soldiers had already left the hospital, and some of the senior medical staff then tried to give Jessica Lynch back to the Americans, who were only 1 kilometre away. She was put into an ambulance and driven over, but when the ambulance got within 300 feet of camp, the Americans began to shoot. The medical staff didn’t even have a chance to tell them why they had come. So they went back to the hospital. The U.S. raid happened the next night. When the soldiers blasted through the doors, which would have opened for them if they had knocked, it felt like a Hollywood movie, according to the staff. One doctor noted that since two cameramen and a still photographer were along (all three in uniform), perhaps it was, technically, a movie. The soldiers ended up trashing and contaminating significant parts of the hospital, but three days after the raid, the Nasiriya doctors were visited by one of their U.S. military counterparts who came to thank them for the superb surgery the Iraqi doctors had performed on Lynch.

Potter’s article comes on the heels of statements by the army that Priv. Lynch has amnesia, a development seemingly regretted by the authorities, who insinuate that she would have been able to provide evidence of Iraqi war crimes. But for my money, the Nasiriya hospital staff’s testimony seems a lot more genuine than the spectacular, and subsequently secretive, rescue and rehabilitation of a private made into a pawn.

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