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[casi] Jessica Lynch Criticizes U.S. Accounts of Her Ordeal

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Published on Friday, November 7, 2003 by the New York Times

Jessica Lynch Criticizes U.S. Accounts of Her Ordeal
by David D Kirkpatrick

In her first public statements since her rescue in Iraq, Jessica Lynch
criticized the military for exaggerating accounts of her rescue and re-casting her
ordeal as a patriotic fable.
Asked by the ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer if the military's portrayal of the
rescue bothered her, Ms. Lynch said: "Yeah, it does. It does that they used me
as a way to symbolize all this stuff. Yeah, it's wrong," according to a
partial transcript of the interview to be broadcast on Tuesday.
After months of retreating from the news media, Ms. Lynch will be a
ubiquitous presence next week. In addition to her appearance on ABC, she will be on the
cover of Time magazine, and NBC will broadcast a movie based on an Iraqi's
account of her ordeal. On Tuesday, the book publisher Knopf will release an
account of her experience, "I Am a Soldier, Too," written with her cooperation by
a former reporter for The New York Times, Rick Bragg.
The book and the movie are unrelated and tell different versions of Ms.
Lynch's story, but the publisher has timed the book to capitalize on publicity from
the television movie.
The book has already added another, lurid indignity to the public accounts of
her capture. It reports that Ms. Lynch's military doctors found injuries
consistent with sexual assault and unlikely to have resulted from the Humvee crash
that caused her other wounds, suggesting that she was raped after her
capture. Ms. Lynch, who was unconscious immediately after the crash, does not
remember any such assault, according to people who have talked to her and read the
book. Those details of the book's contents were reported yesterday in The New
York Daily News.
In the book and in the interviews, Ms. Lynch says others' accounts of her
heroism often left her feeling hurt and ashamed because of what she says was
At first, a military spokesman in Iraq told journalists that American
soldiers had exchanged fire with Iraqis during the rescue, without adding that
resistance was minimal. Then the military released a dramatic, green-tinted,
night-vision video of the mission. Soon news organizations were repeating reports,
attributed to anonymous American officials, that Ms. Lynch had heroically
resisted her capture, emptying her weapon at her attackers.
But subsequent investigations determined that Ms. Lynch was injured by the
crash of her vehicle, her weapon jammed before she could fire, the Iraqi doctors
treated her kindly, and the hospital was already in friendly hands when her
rescuers arrived.
Asked how she felt about the reports of her heroism, Ms. Lynch told Ms.
Sawyer, "It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth
about. 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 didn't."
And asked about reports that the military exaggerated the danger of the
rescue mission, Ms. Lynch said, "Yeah, I don't think it happened quite like that,"
although she added that in that context anybody would have approached the
hospital well-armed. She continued: "I don't know why they filmed it, or why they
say the things they, you know, all I know was that I was in that hospital
hurting. I needed help."
Lt. Col. Rivers Johnson, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, declined
to comment on Ms. Lynch's views. But he said, "Essentially, the mission to
rescue Jessica Lynch demonstrated America's resolve to account for all of its
missing service members." He added that the rescue had been conducted under the
appropriate procedures for a fluid situation like the war in Iraq. "You always
plan for the worst."
Ms. Lynch also disputed statements by Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, the Iraqi
lawyer, that he saw her captors slap her.
"From the time I woke up in that hospital, no one beat me, no one slapped me,
no one, nothing," Ms. Lynch told Diane Sawyer, adding, "I'm so thankful for
those people, because that's why I'm alive today."
Jeff Coplon, who helped Mr. Rehaief write his book, "Because Each Life is
Precious," said it was possible that both he and Ms. Lynch were telling the truth
in their divergent accounts.
"One of the questions that could arise in the wake of this kind of trauma is
that someone could believe they remember everything and their memory could
still be incomplete," Mr. Coplon said.
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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