"Things are seldom what they seem.
Skim milk masquerades as cream."
Sir William Schwenck Gilbert
The recovery of PFC Jessica Lynch from a hospital in Nasiriya, Iraq, turns out to have been mostly an elaborate bit of stagecraft enacted for the sake of American morale, both soldier and civilian.
Note well: the claim is not that the situation was faked, per se, just... embellished a bit. Jessica Lynch's status as a very brave and lucky individual is not in dispute. She was indeed captured by Iraqi soldiers, her comrades in arms were indeed killed by the same. She did arrive at the Nasiriyan hospital with fractures and other injuries. From this point on, however, the waters muddy.
In a recent interview with John Kampfner of The Guardian, Dr. Harith a-Houssona (a physician at the hospital in question) stated:
“I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken thigh and a dislocated ankle. Then I did another examination. There was no (sign of) shooting, no bullet inside her body, no stab wound — only RTA, road traffic accident,” he recalled. “They want to distort the picture. I don’t know why they think there is some benefit in saying she has a bullet injury.”
Dr. a-Houssona played a further part in Lynch's saga when he, personally, attempted to deliver PFC Lynch to the Americans at a checkpoint, as per a plan established two days before the Live At Five rescue attempt. The ambulance carrying Dr. a-Houssona and PFC Lynch was fired on by the Americans as it approached the checkpoint, and immediately turned back.
A local waiter named Hassam Hamoud was questioned by a military interpreter about the condition of the hospital one day before the scheduled rescue attempt. “He (the interpreter) asked: ‘Are there any Fedayeen over there?’ and I said, ‘No’.”
It seems reasonable to doubt the word of one Iraqi on the ground, or at least to err on the side of caution. As such, the fact that the hospital was stormed by commandos doesn't feel particularly damning. However, the actual nature of the slam-bang event rings a bit hollow. In the words of another physician at the aforementioned hospital, Dr. Anmar Uday:
“We heard the noise of helicopters. We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military, there were no soldiers in the hospital. It was like a Hollywood film. They cried, ‘Go, go, go’, with guns and blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show — an action movie like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and shouting, breaking down doors.”
Whether or not the soldiers' weapons were actually loaded with blanks is under contention. One assumes Dr. Uday says this because he heard gunfire but saw no bullet damage. Ditto for "the sound of explosions". Brigadier General Vincent Brooks responded to these points of interest by stating "There was not a firefight inside of the building, I will tell you, but there were firefights outside of the building, getting in and getting out." Other Pentagon officials evaded questioning by saying that stories conflicted and they were sure the "truth would eventually come out".
And, of course, all of this is useless (like so many things in these modern times) if it isn't captured on videotape! So the military did set up their dramatic night vision camera at what appeared to be the entrance to the hospital and taped the goings-on. The crack post-production crews in the military had an edited five minute piece ready for network airing mere hours after the rescue was accomplished. As of the date of this posting, the Pentagon has refused to release the unedited footage of the rescue to anyone.
Simon Wren, media advisor to the British government, described the Lynch-rescue "performance" as "embarrassing", from a journalistic standpoint.
Unfortunately for the Quest for Truth, Jessica Lynch happens to be suffering from total global amnesia according to Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Shame, isn't it?
Regardless, NBC has a made-for-tv-movie in the works about the rescue of Jessica Lynch. One assumes they're unfazed that the US military has already released one.