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Tuesday, April 01, 2003  
The rescue of Jessica Lynch

I am glad to hear Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, will be able to continue her young life. Private Lynch had been reported captured, wounded and then dead after her supply unit encountered Iraqi irregulars March 23. Today, uncomfirmed reports say she was taken from a hospital by U.S. forces.

U.S. Troops Rescue Iraq POW Lynch

WASHINGTON - American troops on Tuesday rescued Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who had been held as a prisoner of war in Iraq (news - web sites) since she and other members of her unit were ambushed March 23, the Defense Department announced.

Lynch, 19, of Palestine, W.Va., had been missing since nine days ago with 11 other U.S. soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Company. The unit was ambushed near Nasiriyah after making a wrong turn during early fighting in the invasion of Iraq. Five other members of her unit were later shown on Iraqi television answering questions from their Iraqi captors.

Lynch had been listed as missing in action but was identified by the Pentagon (news - web sites) Tuesday as a POW. She was not among the seven U.S. soldiers — including the five from the 507th shown on television — formally listed as prisoners of war.

. . .Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks at Central Command headquarters in Qatar announced that a U.S. POW had been rescued but refused to provide any further details.

In a brief statement, Brooks said: "Coalition forces have conducted a successful rescue mission of a U.S. Army prisoner of war held captive in Iraq. The soldier has been returned to a coalition-controlled area."

Central Command officials in Qatar, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Lynch was rescued from a hospital in Iraq.

Though I wish Private Lynch nothing but the best, I have some reservations about how this story may be used by the Bush administration. They may not be above treating it as an example of American superiority and macho derring-do. While simultaneously painting the Iraqis as savages, of course. (Indeed, some of Bush's supporters have already convicted these very same Iraqi irregulars of rape and murder.)

However, the fact she was rescued from an Iraqi hospital where she was being treated is significant. First, because the Iraqis, though irregulars, at least were decent enough to get her treatment. Second, because a rescue from a medical facility is a heck of lot easier than a rescue from a jail or other holding facility. An American POW has been rescued -- but not directly from Iraqi armed forces.

Sources who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity said that Lynch was rescued overnight near An Nasiriyah, where U.S. forces have been involved in running skirmishes with Iraqi forces about 200 miles south of the capital.

Any subsequent rescue attempts will surely be much more difficult. And, I, at least, am touched by the humanity shown by the Iraqis in helping Private Lynch. They could have let her die of her wounds . . . or killed her. I hope our forces perform as decently under similar circumstances.  

6:46 PM