Saving Private Lynch: a Hollywood drama

Do you remember the story of private Jessica Lynch? During the Iraq war this US soldier became a heroine, a real "American icon". However there is a second part to this "drama".

Do you remember the story of private Jessica Lynch? During the Iraq war this US soldier became a heroine, a real "American icon".

However there is a second part to this "drama". We shall resume the story. Jessica was captured by the Iraqis when her company took a wrong turning just outside Nassiriya and was ambushed. Reports said that she was stabbed and also had bullet wounds. According to the version broadcast by all the media at the time (based on US military information, of course) when she was in hospital she was "harrassed" and "tortured". Finally eight days later a US commando stormed the hospital and rescued Private Lynch, recording the "dramatic" events on a night vision camera for posterity.

Hollywood has plans to make a movie out of this story, but probably they won't need to, because the whole story is already a movie! Last week BBC and Guardian reporters uncovered more information about what had really happened.

Iraqi doctors in Nassiriya say they provided the best treatment they could for the soldier in the midst of war. She was assigned the only specialist bed in the hospital and one of only two nurses in the ward.

"I examined her, I saw she had a broken arm, a broken thigh and a dislocated ankle," said Dr Harith a-Houssona, who looked after her. "There was no [sign of] shooting, no bullet inside her body, no stab wound - only road traffic accident. They want to distort the picture. I don't know why they think there is some benefit in saying she has a bullet injury."

Two days before the US special forces stormed the hospital in their "rescue mission" Dr. Al-Houssouna had decided to hand over Jessica to the Americans and told the ambulance driver to go to the US checkpoint. While they were approaching US soldiers opened fire on the ambulance. Only by a miracle did they manage to escape and return to the hospital.

The day before this famous "rescue mission" the Iraqi army had already fled from the city. The US Special Forces were aware of this because the marines had already starting patrolling the outskirts of the town.

When the doctors saw the US commandos swooping on the hospital, they were shocked. "We were surprised. Why do this? There was no military, there were no soldiers in the hospital," said Dr Anmar Uday, who worked at the hospital.

"It was like a Hollywood film. They cried 'go, go, go', with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the American attack on the hospital - action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan."

When the "rescue" ended, General Vincent Brooks, US spokesman in Doha, said: "Some brave souls put their lives on the line to make this happen, loyal to a creed that they know that they'll never leave a fallen comrade."

Just after Jessica Lynch's arrival in Germany, the commander of the US military hospital there told journalists that "he ruled out that any of (Jessica's) wounds could have been provoked by gunfire or daggers"

It is a bit difficult to believe that a military clerk, which is what Private Lynch was, could be in a position to "fight to death" and "to shoot the enemy until her ammunitions ran out" without having received any combat training.

At a moment when the US war campaign seemed to being slowing down, the US military needed some "heroic" and "patriotic" act to broadcast for the consumption of the American public. However, now that the divisions between the US and Britain are growing, the UK media have decided to take up this case and reveal what had really happened.

We will probably never know the whole truth about the actual ambush that took place and all the subsequent events. Jessica Lynch has suddenly developed a kind of "diplomatic" amnesia. Amazingly, in spite of allegedly being involved in such dramatic events, he now has no recollection of the whole episode and probably never will.

In the meantime, her status as a cult heroine is stronger than ever in the US. Internet sites list Jessica Lynch items, that include such wonderful memorabilia like an oil painting which is on offer with an opening bid of $200 or the "America Loves Jessica Lynch" fridge magnets that go for $5 a piece. One cannot say that the entrepreneurial spirit is dead in America!

The truth that is now emerging about what really happened to Private Lynch serves to underline the fact that imperialist wars are not just military affairs, but also ideological ones. While the actual fighting on the ground is taking place there is another equally important war at home to control public opinion.

This episode reveals once more that the media are not impartial. They do not stand above the conflicting interests that exist in society. They are tools in the hands of the ruling class, tools that are used to mould public opinion with lies and fabrications, all the more so when a country is at war. It further strengthens the argument in favour of the expropriation of all the mass media. If we want real genuine, truthful, news reporting then the media must be put into public ownership under workers control. Otherwise, how many more Hollywood movies will we have to watch, presented as real news?