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Tuesday, April 01, 2003  
Details of Lynch rescue are murky

The circumstances of Jessica Lynch's rescue are quite ambiguous. Atrios reports, via TalkLeft, that some observers previously claimed Lynch was held in a torture chamber at the hospital.

Friday :: March 28, 2003

U.S. Marines have found signs of U.S. POWs at a hospital that they have taken over in An Nasiriyah. They also found bloodied female U.S. uniforms and what they suspect was a torture room.

I am skeptical about that claim, partly for the reasons I stated in the Comments at TalkLeft:

I'm gonna wait and see. The notion the hospital room was a torture chamber seems to be supported by speculation, not evidence. A battery in a building that might lose its power at any moment is hardly conclusive. I would expect to see plenty of batteries and generators there. And, if they wanted to torture Jessica Lynch, the Iraqis wouldn't need to take her to a hospital to do it.

I also can't help but wonder if the desire to think the worse of the Iraqis might lead some American military personnel and embedded reporters to see the most mundane of objects as apparatuses of torture.

Today, TalkLeft says:

Hopefully, if one of the bloodied uniforms was Jessica's, the blood was from a gunshot wound, not from being tortured. However, MSNBC also is reporting that the gunshot wounds occurred during Jessica's rescue, and that she had been held in the hospital since March 23 when she disappeared. The Pentagon is being very close-mouthed about the details of Jessica's rescue and her captivity. We hope she wasn't tortured and wish her a speedy recovery.

Another area of murkiness is whether Pfc. Lynch received her wounds during the initial encounter with the Iraqi irregulars March 23, as the result of friendly fire during her rescue or was injured by her captors after being taken prisoner or during the rescue. The precise nature of the wounds that have made Pfc. Lynch non-ambulatory also are not known.

Lynch was said to be doing well, but CNN reported she had suffered multiple gunshot wounds at some point during her ordeal that made it hard to move her.

"I'm not sure where she is, but I'm sure she is being looked at medically to make sure she is alright," said Jean Offutt, spokeswoman for the U.S. military at Fort Bliss, Texas, where Lynch was based.

"If she were wounded, she would be cared for until she were stable and then returned to the United States."

Some additional details of the rescue have been reported.

Military sources said on Wednesday U.S. Marines staged a decoy attack on targets in Nassiriya to allow special forces to rescue her from a hospital in the embattled southern city where U.S.-led forces have faced stiff resistance from Iraqi fighters.

"U.S. Marines sent a large force led by tanks and armored personnel carriers to hit targets in the center of the city and to seize a key bridge over the Euphrates while the hospital raid was under way," a military source said.

Though one would never guess it from the self-congratulatory tone of that remark, the casualties taken in the one known unsuccessful rescue attempt and the successful raid of the hospital may be more than a score. We will not know the true toll until after the war is over, if then. As glad as we all are that reports of Pfc. Lynch's death were premature and that she will likely return to a much easier life in the United States than she had before, the price paid, by her and her comrades, and by any civilians injured or killed, has been quite high.

Note: This entry will also be published at The Watch.

10:02 PM