Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Saving Private Lynch

Iraqi medical staff tell a different story than U.S. military 'We all became friends with her, we liked her so much'

The real 'Saving Pte. Lynch', MITCH POTTER, MIDDLE EAST BUREAU, NASIRIYA, Iraq— "... Precision teams of U.S. Army Rangers and Navy Seals, acting on intelligence information and supported by four helicopter gunships, ended Lynch's nine-day Iraqi imprisonment in true Rambo style, raising America's spirits when it needed it most. All Hollywood could ever hope to have in a movie was there in this extraordinary feat of rescue — except, perhaps, the truth. So say three Nasiriya doctors, two nurses, one hospital administrator and local residents interviewed separately last week in a Toronto Star investigation. The medical team that cared for Lynch at the hospital formerly known as Saddam Hospital is only now beginning to appreciate how grand a myth was built around the four hours the U.S. raiding party spent with them early on April Fool's Day. And they are disappointed. For Dr. Harith Houssona, 24, who came to consider Lynch a friend after nurturing her through the worst of her injuries, the ironies are almost beyond tabulation."

"'The most important thing to know is that the Iraqi soldiers and commanders had left the hospital almost two days earlier,' Houssona said. 'The night they left, a few of the senior medical staff tried to give Jessica back. We carefully moved her out of intensive care and into an ambulance and began to drive to the Americans, who were just one kilometre away. But when the ambulance got within 300 metres, they began to shoot. There wasn't even a chance to tell them "We have Jessica. Take her."' One night later, the raid unfolded ... 'The whole thing lasted about four hours,' Raazk said. 'When they left, they turned to us and said "Thank you." That was it.'"

"What bothers Raazk most is not what was said about Lynch's rescue, so much as what wasn't said about her time in hospital. 'We all became friends with her, we liked her so much,' Houssona said. 'Especially because we all speak a little English, we were able to assure her the whole time that there was no danger, that she would go home soon ... they all made a point of giving Lynch the best of everything,' he added. Despite a scarcity of food, extra juice and cookie were scavenged for their American guest ... 'I felt more like a mother than a nurse. I told her again and again, Allah would watch over her. And many nights I sang her to sleep.' ... What troubles the staff in Nasiriya most are reports that Lynch was abused while in their case. All vehemently deny it. Told of the allegation through an interpreter, nurse Shinah wells up with tears. Gathering herself, she responds quietly: 'This is a lie. But why ask me? Why don't you ask Jessica what kind of treatment she received?'" >>Full story...

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Sources Say Jessica Lynch Has Amnesia NEW YORK — Rescued POW Jessica Lynch says she can't remember anything about her time in captivity in Iraq -- a huge obstacle for military investigators who were hoping the 19-year-old soldier would be the key to revealing Iraqi war crimes, Fox News has learned... U.S. government sources told Fox News that they are concerned about Lynch's mental and physical state, saying she can't remember anything after the moment the 507th was ambushed nor can she remember anything about her days in captivity and the brutality U.S. military officials believe she endured. Officials hope to help her regain her memory, since it's important for her to be able to provide evidence for war crimes (search) and to provide details for the family members of her fellow soldiers who want to know how their loved ones died. U.S. officials say Lynch most likely knows something about how her nine comrades were killed. But one U.S. official said: "she basically has amnesia, and has mentally blocked out the horrible things we strongly believe she went through." >>Full story...

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