To Interview Former P.O.W., CBS Dangles Stardom

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To Interview Former P.O.W., CBS Dangles Stardom

Postby mikenycLI » Sun Jun 15, 2003 10:47 pm

Courtesy of the New York Times....

To Interview Former P.O.W., CBS Dangles Stardom


he race to land the most sought-after interview of the war in Iraq intensified as soon as Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch arrived at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in April, after her rescue from an Iraqi hospital.

Katie Couric of NBC News sent Private Lynch, now 20, a bundle of patriotic books, including Rudolph W. Giuliani's memoir, "Leadership." Diane Sawyer, of ABC News, sent a locket with a photograph of Private Lynch's family home in Palestine, W. Va.


But CBS News, in addition to the usual personal touches, exhibited an apparent new gambit in its pursuit of an exclusive interview with the newsmaker of the moment, known in the television business as "the get." In its letters to Private Lynch's family and officials at the medical center, obtained by The New York Times, CBS News combined its pitch for a two-hour documentary with many other projects envisioned by the other divisions of its corporate parent, Viacom.

In the process, CBS renewed concerns amopng critics about the independence of news divisions owned by media giants.

"Attached you will find the outlines of a proposal that includes ideas from CBS News, CBS Entertainment, MTV networks and Simon & Schuster publishers," Betsy West, a CBS News senior vice president, wrote to Private Lynch's military representatives. "From the distinguished reporting of CBS News to the youthful reach of MTV, we believe this is a unique combination of projects that will do justice to Jessica's inspiring story."

CBS Entertainment executives, the proposal said, "tell us this would be the highest priority for the CBS movie division, which specializes in inspirational stories of courage." Simon & Schuster, it said, "is extremely interested in discussing the possibilities for a book based on Jessica's journey from Palestine, West Virginia, to deep inside Iraq."

MTV Networks, the letter went on, was offering a news special, a chance for Private Lynch and her friends to be the co-hosts of an hourlong music video program on MTV2, and even a special edition of its hit program "Total Request Live" in her honor. "This special would include a concert performance in Palestine, West Va., by a current star act such as Ashanti, and perhaps Ja Rule," the proposal said.

Private Lynch was not the only recipient of such a proposal. Recently, the CBS newsmagazine "60 Minutes" fashioned a proposal for Aron Ralston, who was hiking in Utah and was forced to cut off his arm to free himself from a boulder. The CBS proposal asked to film his rehabilitation and offered to help him contact other Viacom divisions.

CBS's dangling of movie, television and book deals in front of potential interview subjects has troubled some media critics who worry that in an age of media conglomerates, where news operations coexist with their entertainment counterparts, journalistic independence can suffer in the race for synergy.

CBS News said there was nothing untoward in the way that it approached Private Lynch or Mr. Ralston. The Lynch proposal, for example, made clear that CBS News is independent from its corporate siblings, executives said. And there was no promise of a book or movie deal in return for an interview, only the expression of interest in her story from other Viacom divisions, they added. "We stand by this letter — there's no quid pro quo stated or implied," Ms. West said.

"We were led to believe that because of the media barrage of the Lynch family, it would be helpful to consolidate the various Viacom projects, including the CBS News proposal," Ms. West added. "We made it crystal clear that they were separate projects in no way linked."

But a Walter Reed medical center official who helped the Lynches sift through the media approaches did not find the distinctions as clear-cut as CBS news executives might have hoped.

"It looks confusing the way the letters are," said the official, Beverly Chidel, a hospital spokeswoman. "Someone may think, well, you're going to pay me for this, that and the other."

The CBS News proposal presents the latest development in the long, complicated history of "the get."

A good dose of charm has always been an important part of the media courtship and remains so. Typical of a friendly pitch, Jane Clayson, a CBS News correspondent, wrote a letter to Private Lynch in May reminding her that they shared the astrological sign of Taurus. "I hope you have a great day, " said Ms. Clayson, referring to Private Lynch's birthday.

For years such niceties from a big-name anchor or correspondent with the right demeanor were enough to lure the newsmaker in front of a camera. But as larger entertainment conglomerates came to own news operations and declined to treat journalism as a loss leader, some long-observed boundaries have been blurred.

Television news divisions occasionally pay for video and other material like home movies from the subjects of their reporting, technically permitting them to maintain their no-payment-for-interviews policies. And NBC News rebuked a staff member last year for buying clothing for a young kidnap victim in Los Angeles who had agreed to an interview with the "Today" show.

A new wrinkle in the interview booking wars arrived with media consolidation in the 1990's. When the Walt Disney Company bought ABC in 1996, the network was suddenly connected to movie studios and a book division. CBS, purchased by Viacom several years later, is now connected to Simon & Schuster, the Paramount movie studios and various cable networks like MTV.


Every few months, producers at one network will accuse those at another of luring interview subjects with book or movie deals, with no proof. For instance, some of ABC's competitors were suspicious when the crew of miners rescued from a Pennsylvania coal mine last summer sold the book and movie rights to their story to Disney, after "Good Morning America" scored the first live interview with one of the miners.

Robert Lazar, an agent with International Creative Management, who was involved in the miners' negotiations with Disney, said the "Good Morning America" appearance had nothing to do with the Disney deal.

Phyllis McGrady, a senior vice president of ABC News, said she is not against helping an interview subject connect with Disney's entertainment divisions if such a request is made. "If you were looking for a book deal," she said. "We have a publishing arm, Hyperion. I'll give you the name of the person there. But I could never, ever speak for Hyperion."

Likewise Bill Wheatley, vice president of NBC News, said his division avoids the sorts of proposals that CBS News put together for the Lynch interview.

"NBC News would certainly not be in the position of advancing projects by other divisions of the company," he said. "We don't want there to be confusion on this overall policy: that we don't pay for interviews."

CBS News executives said there should be no such confusion.

"We make no secret of the fact that we're part of Viacom," Ms. West said. "But the reputation of CBS News for fairness and independence is without question."

But Lawrence K. Grossman, a former president of NBC News who has criticized media consolidation, said, "If they didn't think it was a tie-in deal, why would they mention it in the first place?"

CBS News officials said that the Lynch proposal was unusual, born of the frenzy of offers bombarding the Lynches. But it was not the only time CBS News had raised other options within Viacom while trying to woo an interview subject.

"60 Minutes" did so in an e-mail message last month to a representative for Mr. Ralston.

After emphasizing that "60 Minutes" was the most-watched newsmagazine program, the letter went on to state: "We can put you in touch with CBS Entertainment should you be interested in pursuing a television movie; with Paramount Pictures should you want to explore any movie possibilities; and with Simon & Schuster should Aron be interested in writing a book about his experience. Those are all options for you to consider, and all things that we can help you with."

CBS News officials said that the letter flagged those entertainment possibilities in part because a lawyer and a spokesman for the family had inquired about them. The spokesman to whom the e-mail message was sent, Paul Poister — who was helping on a voluntary basis and is not representing the family now — would say only, "During the time when I was helping field media interview requests, part of that role that I voluntarily played was not soliciting or trying to set up any kind of book or movie arrangements."

The lawyer for the family, Ron Elberger, had no comment on the CBS News proposal, citing attorney-client privilege.

But in the Ralston case, as in the Lynch case, the consolidated proposal was not necessarily a helpful development.

"The struggle that we deal with in looking at some of these things is, news is news; news is not to be bought and sold," Larry Ralston, Aron Ralston's father, said in an interview. "But what's news and what's entertainment?"

A spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs, Ron Coleman, said, "The Lynches have absolutely not concerned themselves with specifics of the offers. They just want to see their daughter getting better."

Still, the Lynches are expected to sign with an agent soon.

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Postby Rspaight » Mon Jun 16, 2003 9:24 am

MTV Networks, the letter went on, was offering a news special, a chance for Private Lynch and her friends to be the co-hosts of an hourlong music video program on MTV2, and even a special edition of its hit program "Total Request Live" in her honor. "This special would include a concert performance in Palestine, West Va., by a current star act such as Ashanti, and perhaps Ja Rule," the proposal said.

If that's not a quote straight out of the Onion, I don't know what is.

What I want to know is if her "amnesia" will clear up or not, and if it does, what she'll say...

RQOTW: "I'll make sure that our future is defined not by the letters ACLU, but by the letters USA." -- Mitt Romney

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Postby mikenycLI » Mon Jun 16, 2003 9:48 am


The question is will OUR collective amnesia clear up !

Maybe we will get to see some of the outtakes from the "rescue mission" !


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Postby mikenycLI » Tue Jun 17, 2003 1:08 am

A follow-up story on the "rescue", courtesy of

A Broken Body, a Broken Story, Pieced Together
Details Reveal Pfc. Lynch -- Still in Hospital after 67 Days -- Suffered Bone-Crushing Injuries in Crash During Ambush

by Dana Priest, William Booth and Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, June 17, 2003; Page A01

Jessica Lynch, the most famous soldier of the war, remains in a private room at the end of a hall on an upper floor of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, her door guarded by a military police officer.

To repair the fractures, a spinal injury and other injuries suffered during her ordeal, the 20-year-old private first class undergoes a daily round of physical therapy. But she does so alone, during the lunch hours, when other patients are not admitted.

Her father, Greg Lynch Sr., wearing a fresh T-shirt each day with a yellow ribbon pinned to his chest, rarely leaves her side, except to sleep at night. Lynch has been in the hospital now for 67 days. Her physical condition remains severe. But she also appears to suffer from wounds that cannot be seen -- and the story of her capture and rescue remains only partly told.

Her family says she doesn't remember anything about her capture. U.S. military sources say she is unable -- or unwilling -- to say much about anything that happened to her between the ambush and when she became fully conscious sometime later at Saddam Hussein General Hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq.

As the world would remember, Lynch and her Army maintenance unit were ambushed in southern Iraq on the morning of March 23. Eleven of her fellow soldiers were killed; five others were taken captive and later freed. Blond and waiflike, Lynch was taken prisoner and held separately for nine days before a dramatic nighttime rescue from her hospital bed by a covert U.S. Special Operations unit, Task Force 20.

Initial news reports, including those in The Washington Post, which cited unnamed U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports, described Lynch emptying her M-16 into Iraqi soldiers. The intelligence reports from intercepts and Iraqi informants said that Lynch fought fiercely, was stabbed and shot multiple times, and that she killed several of her assailants.

"She was fighting to the death," one of the officials was quoted as saying. "She did not want to be taken alive."

It became the story of the war, boosting morale at home and among the troops. It was irresistible and cinematic, the maintenance clerk turned woman-warrior from the hollows of West Virginia who just wouldn't quit. Hollywood promised to make a movie and the media, too, were hungry for heroes.

Lynch's story is far more complex and different than those initial reports. Much of the story remains shrouded in mystery, in large part because of official Army secrecy, concerns for Lynch's privacy and her limited memory.

The Post's initial coverage attracted widespread criticism because many of the sources were unnamed and because the accounts were soon contradicted by other military officials. In an effort to document more fully what had actually happened to Lynch, The Post interviewed dozens of people, including associates of Lynch's family in West Virginia, Iraqi doctors, nurses and civilian witnesses in Nasiriyah and U.S. intelligence and military officials in Washington, three of whom have knowledge of a weeks-long Army investigation into the matter.

The result is a second, more thorough but inconclusive cut at history. While much more is revealed about her ordeal, most U.S. officials still insisted that their names be withheld from this account.

Lynch tried to fire her weapon, but it jammed, according to military officials familiar with the Army investigation. She did not kill any Iraqis. She was neither shot nor stabbed, they said.

Lynch's unit, the 507th Maintenance Company, was ambushed outside Nasiriyah after taking several wrong turns. Army investigators believe this happened in part because superiors never passed on word that the long 3rd Infantry Division column that the convoy was following had been rerouted. The 507th was 12 hours behind the main column and frequently out of radio contact before it was attacked.

Lynch was riding in a Humvee when it plowed into a jacknifed U.S. truck -- a precarious position that led to major injuries, including multiple fractures and compression to her spine, that knocked her unconscious, military sources said. The collision killed or gravely injured the Humvee's four other passengers.

Two U.S. officials with knowledge of the Army investigation said Lynch was mistreated by her captors. They would not elaborate.

Days later, tipped that Lynch was inside Saddam Hussein General Hospital in Nasiriyah, the CIA, fearing a trap, sent an agent into the facility with a hidden camera to confirm she was there and help draw a blueprint for her rescue, intelligence sources said.

The Special Operations unit's full-scale rescue of the private, while justified given the uncertainty confronting the U.S. forces as they entered the compound, ultimately was proven unnecessary. Iraqi combatants had left the hospital almost a day earlier, leaving Lynch in the hands of doctors and nurses who said they were eager to turn her over to Americans.

Neither the Pentagon nor the White House publicly dispelled the more romanticized initial version of her capture, helping to foster the myth surrounding Lynch and fuel accusations that the Bush administration staged-managed parts of Lynch's story.

Only Lynch is in position to know everything that happened to her -- and she may not ever be able to tell the story.

"The doctors are reasonably sure," said Army spokesman Kiki Bryant, "that she does not know what happened to her."

Falling Behind

On the western outskirts of Nasiriyah, just a few miles from the city's downtown, a middle-aged farmer named Sahib Khudher was worried and outside of his house when a large U.S. convoy -- a dozen or more trucks, trailers, wreckers and Humvees -- passed by on the road heading north at a few hours before dawn, he said. It was March 23, the third day of the war, as U.S. troops poured into Iraq in a modern-day blitz.

The farmer waved at the Americans. "But they did not see me," he said.

A few hours later, trucks mysteriously returned. At first, Khudher thought they might be Iraqi Army members or Republican Guards coming to fight. But he saw that the vehicles were American, and that they were being pursued in a wild, running gun battle with pickup trucks filled with what Khudher assumed were militia from Saddam's Fedayeen and Iraqi irregulars in civilian clothing. They were firing into the U.S. vehicles and at their tires.

"There was shooting, shooting everywhere," Khudher said. "There were accidents, too. Crash sounds. You could see and hear the vehicles hitting each other. And yelling. Screaming. I could hear English."

The 18 Humvees, trailers and tow trucks of Lynch's 507th Maintenance Company were the tail end of the 3rd Infantry Division's 8,000-vehicle convoy snaking its way from Kuwait to Baghdad. A Patriot missile maintenance crew by training, the members of the 507th based at Fort Bliss, Tex., were assigned to keep the Army's war machine moving.

The initial plan called for moving north on "Route Blue," Highway 8, until the southern outskirts of Nasiriyah, according to military officials. Because the city was still teeming with enemy fighters, commanders decided to reroute the column to "Route Jackson," Highway 1, which skirted around the town to the south and west.

But the 507th never got word of the change.

The miscommunication happened, in part, Army investigators believe, because a battalion commander in the 3rd Forward Support Battalion to which it was attached never made sure the 507th had received word of the route change.

"They didn't know about Route Jackson," said one senior military officer briefed on the investigators' findings. "We believe it would have never happened if the proper procedure had been followed."

The unit fell behind as the enormous wrecking tractors and cargo trailers -- equipment to haul other giant Army vehicles and supplies -- tried to adjust to the division's changing pace.

But other mishaps contributed. Long before they reached Nasiriyah, two of the 507th's 5-ton trailers had broken down, forcing the back half of the unit -- 18 vehicles in all -- to fall further behind the lead elements, where the company commander was riding.

Lynch was among the soldiers in that trailing half.

By the time the 507th reached Nasiriyah, some of the unit's soldiers and officers had gone without sleep for 60 hours. As one officer put it, they suffered "a fatigue that adversely affected their decision-making."

A 'Catastrophic' Crash

As they entered the city, the commander of Lynch's company -- a captain whose identity could not be learned -- informed superiors up ahead that they had fallen as many as 12 hours behind. "He was advised the rest of the column has to move on time whether the rest of them get there or not," a defense official familiar with the Army's investigation said.

Navigating through unfamiliar streets, troops jury-rigged antennas to stay in touch with the lead elements of the battalion since their radios had a range of only 10 miles. But the radios didn't always work.

As they entered the city, it was about 6:30 a.m., and few Iraqis were about. Those who were, including soldiers at checkpoints and armed men in SUVs, just waved at the Americans as they drove by, military officials said.

Using a navigational device, the company commander turned the convoy left and, minutes later, came to a T-intersection, where he ordered the vehicles to turn right again. Then the commander decided turn the column of huge, lumbering trailers and tractors around.

They attempted to retrace their route, but missed a turn. Then one of the American vehicles ran out of fuel.

Lynch at this point was riding on a 5-ton truck.

It was 7 a.m., and more Iraqis were appearing on the streets, military officials with knowledge of the Army investigation said. The company commander instructed his troops to lock and load their weapons. Each soldier had 210 rounds of ammunition. The senior non-commissioned officer, Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, took the rear position in the column, while the company commander went up front.

"We have to pick up speed, move faster!" Dowdy began yelling over the radio, according to the defense official, who has read the surviving soldiers' accounts.

As the convoy drove back into central Nasiriyah, it was met by Iraqi forces, some in civilian clothes, who fired at it from on foot, from vehicles and from stationary mortar positions. Soldiers interviewed by investigators said the Iraqis fired AK-47s, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and mortar shells. The Iraqis fired from both sides of the road.

At least one Iraqi T-55 tank appeared, and the Iraqis positioned sandbags, debris and cars to block the convoy's path.

"A very harrowing, very intense" gun battle was how the senior military officer described it. The U.S. troops fired back.

"We don't know how many rounds she got off," the official said of Lynch, or whether she got off any shots at all. "Her weapon jammed severely."

At some point, Lynch's vehicle broke down and she got into Dowdy's soft-top Humvee, which was driven by Pfc. Lori Piestewa, one of Lynch's close friends. They were joined by two other soldiers whose wrecker became disabled. Dowdy pulled them to safety at great risk to himself, the defense official said. They took the seats on either side of Lynch, who sat atop the transmission hump in the middle.

As his soldiers came under fire, Dowdy, now with four soldiers in his Humvee, sped along the road at speeds of 50 mph, encouraging his soldiers "to get into the fight, trying to get vehicles to move and getting soldiers out of one broken-down vehicle and into another," the senior military officer said.

The soldiers in Dowdy's Humvee "had their weapons at the ready and their seat belts off," said the senior officer, who was also briefed on the investigation. "We assume they were firing back."

There were other acts of bravery. One soldier, whose name could not be learned, bolted from his vehicle to try to rescue other soldiers from a disabled vehicle. He took cover behind a berm, not realizing at first that Iraqi soldiers were on the other side in a mortar pit. When he did, he killed a half-dozen of them with his weapons, the defense official said. Soon, though, he was surrounded by a couple of dozen armed Iraqis and is believed to have been killed on the spot.

"He didn't have a chance," said the official.

A U.S. tractor-trailer with a flatbed swerved around an Iraqi dump truck and jack-knifed. As Dowdy's speeding Humvee approached the overturned tractor-trailer, it was hit on the driver's side by a rocket-propelled grenade. The driver, Piestewa, lost control of the Humvee, swerved right and struck the trailer.

The senior defense official described the collision as "catastrophic."

Dowdy, sitting in the passenger seat, was killed instantly. So, probably, were the two soldiers on either side of Lynch. Piestewa and Lynch were seriously injured, according the senior officer's account.

Lynch's arm and legs were crushed by the compression, U.S. military doctors would later conclude. Tiny bone fragments protruded through her skin.

Khuder, the Iraqi farmer, remembered seeing a Humvee crash into a truck. Later, when it was safe to approach the road, he saw "two American women, one dark skinned, one light skinned, pulled from the Humvee. I think the light one was dead. The dark-skinned one was hurt."

Khudher appears to have seen Lynch, who is white, unconscious, taken prisoner, as well as Piestewa, who was Native American, still alive.

In the hours after the ambush, Arabic-speaking interpreters at the National Security Agency, reviewing intercepted Iraqi communications from either hand-held radios or cellular phones, heard references to "an American female soldier with blond hair who was very brave and fought against them," according to a senior military officer who read the top-secret intelligence report when it came in. An intelligence source cited reports from Iraqis at the scene, saying she had fired all her ammunition.

Over the next hours and days, commanders at Central Command, which was running the war from Qatar, and CIA officers with them at headquarters were bombarded with military "sit reps" and agency Field Information Reports about the ambush, according to intelligence and military sources. The Iraqi reports included information about a female soldier. One said she died in battle. Some said she was wounded by shrapnel. Some said she had been shot in the arm and leg, and stabbed.

These reports were distributed only to generals, intelligence officers and policymakers in Washington who are cleared to read the most sensitive information the U.S. government possesses.

These intelligence reports, and the one eavesdropped snippet, created the story of the war.

She Would Have Died'

Down a two-lane blacktop rolling through dry farmlands, just a mile or two from the ambush site, lies the Iraqi military hospital of Nasiriyah. It was where the Lynch was first treated after her capture.

Today, the three-story structure is a gutted ruin, charred from fires. Mangled brown Iraqi military vehicles fill the parking lot.

On the morning of Lynch's capture, the military hospital was a beehive, with fleeing, fighting and wounded Iraqi troops coming and going as U.S. troops swept into Iraq from Kuwait.

Adnan Mushafafawi, a brigadier in the Iraqi Army medical corps, a member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and the director of the hospital, said a policeman brought in two female U.S. soldiers about 10 a.m.

"They were both unconscious," he said. They were severely wounded, he recalled, exhibiting symptoms of shock and trauma. He read their dog tags: They were Jessica Lynch and her friend and fellow 507th soldier Lori Piestewa.

"Miss Lori," Mushafafawi said, "had bruises all over her face. She was bleeding from the eyes. A severe head wound." He said Piestewa died soon after arriving at the hospital.

Did either soldier display evidence she had been stabbed or shot? "No, no," he said. Pressed, he later answered, "Maybe, Miss Lori, maybe shot."

Mushafafawi said he and his medical staff cut away Lynch's uniform and threw her clothes on the floor. She lay on a gurney, almost naked, as Iraqi military doctors and nurses worked on her, he said.

Lynch had multiple fractures, Mushafafawi said, a head injury that he described as minor. He said the staff sutured the wound. She was given blood and intravenous fluids, he said. The staff took X-rays, partly set her fractures and applied splints and plaster casts to them.

"If we had left her without treatment she would have died," Mushafafawi said.

The military doctor said Lynch briefly regained consciousness at his hospital, but appeared disoriented. "She was very scared," he said. "We reassured her that she would be safe now."

But when Mushafafawi suggested to Lynch that he might attempt to better set her leg fracture, Lynch told him, "No, she didn't want us to do anything more," he recalled.

"She was here two, three hours," the doctor said and then transferred by military ambulance to Nasiriyah's main civilian facility, Saddam Hussein General Hospital across town.

Mushafafawi said he assumed his military hospital probably would be attacked by U.S. forces, who two days later overran the compound. He said that it was his decision to transfer Lynch and that no military or intelligence officers accompanied her. Piestewa's body also was transported to Saddam Hussein hospital.

Mushafafawi said he did not know what happened to Piestewa or Lynch between their capture shortly after 7 a.m. and their appearance at his hospital about three hours later.

Later that day, the Arab news network al-Jazeera broadcast graphic close-up film of bodies, believed to be from Lynch's unit, sprawled on a concrete floor at an undisclosed location. Two of the soldiers appeared to have been shot in the forehead, one between the eyes. A smiling Iraqi moved among the bodies, displaying them for the camera.

Four exhausted and shaken POWs from the 507th were shown in the same newscast giving minimal answers to questions posed by their Iraqi captors who had transported them to Baghdad.

'Crying All the Time'

When Lynch arrived at Saddam Hussein hospital in a military ambulance that afternoon, the nurses and doctors who admitted her said they were surprised to find an American woman, almost naked, her limbs in plaster casts, beneath a sheet.

Interviewed recently about Lynch's stay at the hospital, members of the staff insisted that they gave her the best care they could, and that they did not believe it was possible for Iraqi agents to have abused her while she was there. Though Iraqi military, intelligence and Baath Party officials began using the hospital as a base of operations, they said they saw no one mistreat Lynch -- though a member of Iraq's intelligence service was posted outside her door.

As the doctors and nurses recalled, Lynch's condition was grave as they brought her into the emergency room. In addition to her multiple fractures, her extremities were cold, her blood pressure down, her heart rate accelerated. She was unconscious and in shock.

The hospital was operating, but stressed to its limits. Only a dozen doctors from a staff of 60 came to work; the nursing staff, especially women, was skeletal as the roads were too dangerous to travel; the electricity was sporadic; the generators were failing; medical supplies spotty; and all the while, during Lynch's stay at the hospital, the hospital was receiving more than 200 casualties a day and one young intern said he was reduced to mopping up bloody floors himself.

"It was substandard care, by American standards, we know this, okay? But Jessica got the best we could offer," said Harith Hassona, one of two young resident physicians who assisted in her care.

After several days of treatment, Lynch's condition improved. She was moved from the emergency room to an empty cardiac care unit, where she had her own room, and was tended by two female nurses.

But she was in pain, and given powerful drugs. She ate, sporadically, asking for juice and crackers. The staff said she was offered Iraqi hospital food, but refused. "She wanted to see things opened in front of her, then she would eat," said Furat Hussein, one of her nurses.

Her mental state varied from hour to hour, according to the Iraqi nurses and doctors. "She would joke with us sometimes, and sometimes she would weep," Hussein said.

"She didn't want to be left alone and she didn't want strangers to care for her," said Anmar Uday, one of the two primary care physicians. "One time, she asked me, 'Why are you standing in front of me? Are you gong to hurt me?' We said no, we're here to help you."

"Crying all the time," recalled Khalida Shnan, a nurse who wept herself when describing how she tried to comfort Lynch by singing to her night and rubbing talc on her shoulders. Mahdi Khafaji, the orthopedic surgeon, said he knew that sooner or later U.S. troops would come for Lynch and "we wanted to show the Americans that we are human beings."

Khafaji said treating Lynch well was in their self-interest: "She was more important at that moment than Saddam Hussein." He added, "You could not help but feeling sorry for her. A young girl. An American. A prisoner. We did our best. Believe me, she was the only orthopedic surgery I performed." Khafaji suggested that as he worked on Lynch, ordinary Iraqis went without treatment, and some may have died.

But Khafaji said that, without a doubt, the Iraqi leadership was also employing Lynch as a human shield.

If the hospital was chaotic and understaffed, it was also overrun with senior Iraqi officials, who were living and working out of the basement, clinics, and the doctors' residence halls and offices.

The staff said there were 50 to 100 Iraqi combatants in or around the hospital at any one time -- though the number shrank day by day as deserters fled at night and the Americans closed in.

The head of the municipal government, Younis Mohammad Thareb, was there, as was senior Baath Party officer Adel Abdallah Doori. There were military and special security officers also, as well as Iraqi militia and members of Saddam's Fedayeen.

"They were all here," Hassona said.

Someone in civilian clothes, whom Hassona said was a low-ranking employee of one of the Iraqi intelligence services, stood guard outside Lynch's door. Hassona and other hospital staffers said they kept a close eye on Lynch; they feared that Iraqi officials might try to move her, harass or interrogate her. "But you have to understand that these guys knew the Americans were coming, and toward the end, they were most worried about saving themselves," Hassona said.

But there was still an atmosphere of fear.

"When she woke up once, she was saying she was scared and wanted someone to stay with her," Hassona recalled. "She said, 'I'm afraid of Saddam Hussein,' and I said, 'Shhhh. Don't say that name. You must keep quiet.' "

Soon after Lynch's arrival, Hassona and Khafaji said they were approached by an intelligence officer and asked how soon Lynch could be moved.

"I told him 72 hours, at least," Khafaji said.

Khafaji said that Lynch's wounds made him suspicious. The fractures were on both sides of her body, for example, and "if they all came from a car accident, there was no glass in her wounds, no lacerations or deep bruises."

U.S. military sources believe most if not all the fractures could have been caused by extreme compression during her vehicle accident. Khafaji said "maybe a car accident or maybe they broke her bones with rifle butts or by stomping on her legs. I don't know. They know and Jessica knows. I can only guess."

A Lawyer's Story

Within a few days of her capture, U.S. military and intelligence agencies would learn from several Iraqis in Nasiriyah that one of the 507th soldiers was held captive at Saddam Hussein Hospital.

One of those Iraqis was Mohammed Odeh Rehaief, a 32-year-old lawyer who told U.S. authorities he learned about Lynch on March 27, when he went there to see his wife, Iman, a nurse in the kidney unit.

"In the hospital corridors, I observed a large number of Fedayeen Saddam," Rehaief recounted in a statement. "I knew they were Fedayeen because they were wearing their traditional black ninja-style uniforms that covered everything but their eyes. I also saw high army officials there."

Rehaief said a doctor friend told him about Lynch. He peered through a glass panel into her room, he said, and "saw a large man in black looming over a bed that contained a small bandaged woman with blond hair."

There were epaulets on man's shirt, indicating he was a Fedayeen officer, Rahaief said. "He appeared to be questioning the woman through a translator. Then I saw him slap her -- first with the palm of his hand, then with the back of his hand."

When the Fedayeen officer left, Rehaief said, he crept into Lynch's room and told her he would help her. "Don't worry," he said. He then walked east across Nasiriyah where he encountered a group of Marines and told them about Lynch.

The Marines, who corroborated Rehaief's story that he assisted them, sent him back to the hospital several times to map out access to the site, the route getting there and to count the number of Iraqi troops inside.

The staff of the civilian hospital believe Rehaief did tell the Marines about Lynch, but some nurses and doctors disputed other parts of his story.

The head nurse of the hospital said there is no nurse named Iman employed by the facility, or any nurse married to a lawyer. "This is something we would know," she said.

"Never happened," Hassona said. Men in black slapping Lynch? "That's some Hollywood crap you'd tell the Americans." Hassona said he suspected the lawyer embellished his story.

After the rescue, Rehaief and his wife were transported by U.S. forces to a military camp in Kuwait. Rahaief, along with his wife and daughter, was granted political asylum in the United States. He is living in Northern Virginia, working on a book for HarperCollins and with NBC for a television movie on the rescue.

Rahaief and members of Lynch's family have not sought each other out.


Task Force 20, a covert U.S. Special Operations unit, worked on only the highest U.S. priorities in Iraq: hunting for weapons of mass destruction, weapons scientists and Baath Party leaders -- and rescuing Jessica Lynch.

Among the pre-mission briefings the group received before its move on the hospital was the fact that the hospital had been reportedly visited by Ali Hassan Majeed, otherwise known as "Chemical Ali," one of the most sought-after targets in the Iraqi leadership. Sources on the ground and imagery from Predator unmanned vehicles, which had been flying over the hospital for days, indicated it might serve as some kind of military command-and-control facility.

Militarily, "they knew they were going into an unknown situation," said one Special Operations officer. "They came armed for bear." Central Command was worried enough about the Iraqi military's response that it ordered a force of Marines, with tanks and armored personnel carriers, into Nasiriyah in a feint to draw attention away from the hospital.

About 1 a.m. on April 1, commandos in blacked-out Blackhawk helicopters and protected by low, slow-flying AC-130 gunships, swooped toward the hospital grounds. Marines fanned out as an exterior perimeter, while Army Rangers made a second protective shield just outside the hospital walls. These forces took light fire from adjacent buildings, according to military sources.

Commandos burst into hospital, fired explosive charges meant to disorient anyone inside, and headed for Lynch's room, according to U.S. accounts.

"We heard the helicopters and we decided we would go to the radiology unit," said Anmar Uday, a doctor, because the X-ray room was lined with lead.

The Iraqis heard shouts of "Go! Go! Go!" and soon the commandos were upon them. They said no shots were fired in the hospital and no one resisted, that there were only doctors and staff and a few hundred patients left. "It was like a 'Rambo' movie," Uday said. "But we were not Rambo. We just waited to be told what to do."

"There was not a firefight inside of the building, I will tell you, but there were firefights outside of the building, getting in and out," Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks told reporters at Central Command in Doha, Qatar.

The commandos found Lynch in a private room, atop the hospital's only bed used to ease the pain of bedsores, a special sand-filled tub. She was accompanied by a male nurse in a white jacket.

"Jessica Lynch, we're the United States soldiers and we're here to protect you and take you home," a Special Forces soldier called out, according to Air Force Maj. Gen. Victor Renuart, who briefed reporters three days later.

"I'm an American soldier, too," she answered from her hospital bed.

Troops found "ammunition, mortars, maps, a terrain model and other things that make it very clear that it was being used as a military command post," Brooks said.

Saad Abdul Razaq, the hospital's assistant administrator, said he was corralled with others in a corner. "They were pointing a gun at me and I thought, it's all over, I'm going to die," he said.

Razaq and the hospital staff said the last Iraqi military and civilian leaders had fled the morning of the raid; they stripped off their green uniforms, abandoned their vehicles in the parking lot, and disappeared. None of the hospital staff was injured during the rescue.

The U.S. troops recovered two American bodies from the morgue. Staff escorted the Americans to a grave site outside the building, by a soccer field, where the bodies of seven U.S. soldiers were buried. The hospital staff said the bodies -- all members of Lynch's convoy -- were put under the earth because the morgue's faltering refrigerators could not stop decomposition. Navy SEALs dug the bodies up with their hands, according to military officials.

A few hours after the last members of Task Force 20 flew away in helicopters, a contingent of U.S. tanks and trucks rolled up to the hospital's front door without firing a shot.

Central Command's public affairs office in Qatar geared up to make the most of the rescue.

"We wanted to make sure we got whatever visuals were available," said one public affairs officer involved. The task force had photographed the rescue. Special Forces had already provided exclusive, opening-day video to the news media of Iraqi border posts being destroy by nighttime raids. That had been a hit, public affairs officers believed.

"We let them know, if possible we wanted to get it, we'd like to have" the video, said Lt. Col. John Robinson, a Central Command public affairs officer. "We were hoping we would have good visuals. We knew it would be the hottest thing of the day. There was not an intent to talk it down or embellish it because we didn't need to. It was an awesome story."

For the U.S. military and the American public, Lynch's rescue came as a joyous moment in one of the darkest hours of the war, when U.S. troops looked like they were going to be bogged down on their way to Baghdad. But the rescue had gone off without a hitch.

"It took on a life of its own," said one colonel who tried to answer the barrage of media queries. "Reporters seem to be reporting on each other's information. The rescue turned into a Hollywood concept."

Making Progress

After her rescue, nowhere was the joy greater than in Lynch's hometown of tiny Palestine, W.Va., where parents Greg and Deadra Lynch had struggled to stay hopeful as days slipped by without news of their missing daughter.

The family's elation was tempered when they discovered the true extent of Lynch's injuries when they reached her bedside at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

At Walter Reed, Lynch's bones have been put back together with such a delicate and extensive network of rods and pins that it can take an hour for her to moved from bed to wheelchair.

"She is still struggling with pain and her recovery will be slow," said family spokesman Randy Coleman. Her mother said, "It's amazing she can walk at all, she is a body full of pins and screws," Coleman recounted.

Still, Lynch is making progress. She recently walked more than 100 steps using a walker. "She works hard at physical therapy. She doesn't sit around and complain. She is certainly determined to get well," said Walter Reed spokeswoman Beverly Chidel.

People who have seen her said she is psychologically traumatized, and appears somewhat dazed, though she is better now than in the early weeks. Recently she has talked on the phone to friends and sent emails from her laptop.

Booth reported from Nasiriyah, interviewing Iraqi doctors and nurses in the hospitals where Lynch was treated, and Iraqi citizens who witnessed elements of the initial capture. Priest and Schmidt reported from Washington, interviewing military and intelligence officials with detailed knowledge of Lynch's capture and rescue, as well as officials close to the Lynch family.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company ... v=hptop_tb

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Postby mikenycLI » Wed Jun 18, 2003 2:27 am

Courtesy of Reuters....

CBS Denies POW Lynch 'Checkbook' Offer
Tue June 17, 2003 02:41 AM ET
By Andrew Grossman
NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - CBS News on Monday fired back at the New York Times after the newspaper reported in a front-page story that the network had dangled carrots from other Viacom divisions in order to land an interview with rescued POW Jessica Lynch.

The story raised questions of whether a new form of "checkbook journalism" -- whereby a media outlet pays for an interview or access to a news story -- had arisen in an era of media consolidation.

In a statement, CBS said the Times had quoted liberally from a letter sent by CBS News senior vp primetime Betsy West but had excluded the parts that tended to exculpate the network from accusations that it was trying to woo Lynch with offers from CBS Entertainment, MTV Networks, Simon & Shuster and other Viacom units.

"Unlike the New York Times' own ethical problems, there is no question about the accuracy or integrity of CBS News' reporting," CBS News said. "CBS News does not pay for interviews, and it maintains a well-established separation from other parts of Viacom. The letters selectively quoted by the Times, when read in their entirety, make that explicitly clear."

CBS declined to distribute the entire letter to reporters, instead opting to quote from passages that the Times had opted to paraphrase. It did not deny the accuracy of the Times' quotations from the letter.

"Attached you will find the outlines of a proposal that includes ideas from CBS News, CBS Entertainment, MTV Networks and Simon & Shuster publishers," West wrote, according to the Times.

The entertainment division executives "tell us this would be the highest priority for the CBS movie division, which specializes in inspirational stories of courage," the letter stated. Another section noted that Simon & Shuster "is extremely interested in discussing the possibilities for a book based on Jessica's journey from Palestine, W. Va., to deep inside Iraq."

In response, the network said the Times left out the following parts of the letter: "'CBS News maintains editorial independence from the entertainment division; we never tie interview requests to entertainment projects; and we wanted to make sure that CBS News' proposal was being considered as a single entity,"' CBS News said.

Said a Times spokesman in a statement: "We believe our coverage was thorough, accurate and fair -- and fully representative of the complete document in our possession."

Both ABC and NBC news division spokespeople insisted that their proposals to Lynch mentioned only news division opportunities.

CBS News' rebuttal left several journalism academics wondering why the network would even mention Viacom's other divisions in such a letter.

"I'm not questioning CBS' integrity or intention," said Aly Colon, a member of the ethics faculty at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. "But even with the lines that CBS adds ... it could be very easy for one to potentially assume, 'If I do that, something else might play out."'

CBS insisted that it only wanted to lessen the barrage of interview requests that Lynch and Walter Reed Hospital -- where Lynch is recuperating from her war injuries -- have received by consolidating the companies' information into a single letter.

But Colon said CBS News should have known that "it's very hard today to know where one part of the company starts and another part stops."

Similarly, Dow Smith, an associate professor of broadcast journalism at Syracuse University, said, "Why even mention it in the same letter if they're not trying to cloud up the issue, particularly if they are dealing with someone who is not terribly sophisticated with media-thons."

He added, "They are trying to have it both ways" by maintaining the unit's independence while hinting broadly to Lynch that "if it acts like a connection and smells like a connection, they would be hoping it is a connection."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter ... ID=2939161

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Postby mikenycLI » Fri Aug 08, 2003 2:11 pm

Verrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting !

Courtesy of

Pfc. Lynch withdraws cooperation for movie

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch has reportedly pulled out of a proposed deal with NBC for a television movie about her ordeal during the war in Iraq.

The New York Times said the Thursday decision followed by just one day an agreement between network executives and Lynch that would have paid her an undisclosed fee for her participation in the movie, which is due to start production in two weeks.

But the Times said Lynch family members scuttled those plans Thursday, announcing they want her authorized story told first in a book to be published before the end of the year.

NBC executives declined comment, but one executive told the newspaper the network was disappointed.

The network announced Wednesday it had chosen a Canadian actress, Laura Regan, to play Lynch in its planned original movie. ... -3867r.htm

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Postby mikenycLI » Sat Aug 09, 2003 1:24 am

mikenycLI wrote:Verrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting !

Courtesy of

Pfc. Lynch withdraws cooperation for movie

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch has reportedly pulled out of a proposed deal with NBC for a television movie about her ordeal during the war in Iraq.

The New York Times said the Thursday decision followed by just one day an agreement between network executives and Lynch that would have paid her an undisclosed fee for her participation in the movie, which is due to start production in two weeks.

But the Times said Lynch family members scuttled those plans Thursday, announcing they want her authorized story told first in a book to be published before the end of the year.

NBC executives declined comment, but one executive told the newspaper the network was disappointed.

The network announced Wednesday it had chosen a Canadian actress, Laura Regan, to play Lynch in its planned original movie. ... -3867r.htm

Another story in this puzzle...the title of proposed Tv movie, AND "the constant retooling of the script" says it all; it must have freaked them out, in terms of them feeling, they lost control of the they had it, right ? Courtesy of

Casting Private Lynch
Yup, they're making a movie about it

Dateline: Wednesday, August 6, 2003

By: News Editor
Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Actress Laura Regan has been cast as the captured then liberated U.S. soldier in SAVING JESSICA LYNCH, NBC's movie of the week about the 20-year-old taken prisoner in the Iraqi war. Yes, that's really the title of the TV show; they might as well call it SAVING PRIVATE LYNCH and be done with it, don'tcha think?

A script is already done and the show will move into production shortly. However, recent revisioning of Lynch's story and her rescue by special ground forces has required constant retooling of John Fasano's screenplay.

Regan has had small parts in LAW & ORDER and in M. Night Shyamalan's UNBREAKABLE. Her biggest role to date was in WES CRAVEN PRESENTS: THEY. ... j_id=39333