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April 21, 2003 8:54 AM   Subscribe

So who really did save Private Jessica? An interesting backside to military propaganda.
posted by the fire you left me (39 comments total)

 
Perhaps propaganda in its own right, who is there to believe?
posted by the fire you left me at 9:08 AM on April 21, 2003


Well considering how her name isn't "Private Jessica," I think it's hard to listen to whatever any side that deliberately uses the first name of a female soldier to instill maternalistic compassion has to say about "propaganda." She's a friggin' soldier captured in combat; she didn't fall down a well.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:13 AM on April 21, 2003


Who knows. But I'm sure we could get a good arguement going about it.
posted by Witty at 9:14 AM on April 21, 2003


What XQUZYPHYR said.
posted by jpoulos at 9:17 AM on April 21, 2003


ditto
posted by clavdivs at 9:23 AM on April 21, 2003


And well said at that.
posted by Witty at 9:23 AM on April 21, 2003


PFC Lynch was held by the enemy. This fact is not in dispute. The soldiers who rescued her may not have saved her from torture and imprisonment, but they did release her, in an operation against a facility that had military caches of weapons and ammo and in a city that had been the scene of sporadic fighting for days. Full caution was certainly warranted. The fact that the people overlooking her at the end were nice is irrelevant; certainly the official "propaganda" as you term it has made much of the voluntarism of ordinary Iraqis, including one who passed notes to US soldiers and a lawyer who acted to assist her at great fear for his family, solely because he had seen her being mistreated by her guards. Frankly, if the worst that happened was some doctors got handcuffed, then thank God for the care of the SAR team.

Also, "backside" generally means something else in the US.
posted by dhartung at 9:24 AM on April 21, 2003


WarFilter discussion
posted by muckster at 9:26 AM on April 21, 2003


who is there to believe?

No one. Including ourselves.

Deal with it. Have a beer.
posted by jonmc at 9:30 AM on April 21, 2003


That's not dealing with it, jonmc. That's ignoring it. Mmm, beer.
posted by muckster at 9:40 AM on April 21, 2003


Ignoring something that you can and will never have the truth about, as you and I were not there.

Beeeeeeeeeer.
posted by angry modem at 9:51 AM on April 21, 2003


There's sooo much less money in a screenplay that doesn't have Heroic Commandos. Therefore, that will be the story...and henceforth that will be the truth.

Yay!
posted by lathrop at 9:58 AM on April 21, 2003


And of course, as we all know, an actual heroic rescue couldn't possibly have happened. We far more enjoy the skepticism and pessimistic view of everything. Unbelievable.
posted by Witty at 10:05 AM on April 21, 2003


XQUZYPHYR: I applaud your consistent irritation at the use of a soldier's first name. You do realize that the US military has done this on occasion. I quote from DefenseLink (though I have seen it other places):

One helicopter transported her to another nearby waiting aircraft, which would then move her to a field hospital, Renuart continued. "Jessica held up her hand and grabbed the Ranger doctor's hand, held on to it for the entire time and said, 'Please don't let anybody leave me.' It was clear she knew where she was and she didn't want to be left anywhere in the hands of the enemy," he noted.

Renuart is Air Force Maj. Gen. Victor Renuart, operations chief at U.S. Central Command.

The article linked to above identified Lynch by her last name as per AP style. That the headline writer used the familiar is also common. The public, including those writing Lynch's website often call her by her given name.

Also, in the Southeastern US, it is common for some to call soldiers by their rank and first name. Of course, this is commonly only done by teens and younger who are semi-familiar with the soldier. It's a sign of respect for the position.

All this aside...all sides will use every propaganda tool at their disposal. Wars are not only fought with weapons of manufacture.
posted by ?! at 10:08 AM on April 21, 2003


Oh come on Witty. Military activities are almost by definition dirty, confused, and uncertain. The account of senselessly trashing a bed and terrorizing a handful of doctors strikes me as far more believable than the thrill of fresh-faced lads bursting in and saying something like "I'm Luke Skywalker and I'm here to rescue you." When it comes to reports of military actions, skepticism is healthy, and sarcastic criticism of that skepticism is only a step away from calling it unpatriotic.
posted by holycola at 10:12 AM on April 21, 2003


Life is a series of marketing opportunities followed by death.
posted by larry_darrell at 10:17 AM on April 21, 2003


One could almost taste the disappointment over at FoxNews that none of our POWs were badly treated. They lost such a major opportunity for righteous indignation and now have to go back to inventing stories of discoveries of chemical weaposn.
posted by Cerebus at 10:20 AM on April 21, 2003


If you had listened to the BBC/CBC broadcast the evening of the event you will have heard an interview with one of the hospital staff who said there was no resistance to the US rescue team. In fact, he said staff was trying to help and they expected the soldiers earlier seeing as how the Baathists had fled the day before.

I chalked it up to media wartime sensationalism when the US press droned on about the "heroic rescue". I can understand confusion during the event, but the media hype afterward just made me more disgusted.
posted by infowar at 10:29 AM on April 21, 2003


dhartung:

Frankly, if the worst that happened was some doctors got handcuffed, then thank God for the care of the SAR team.

Yes, thank Jesus there's someone who's willing to give George W. a blowjob despite the facts at hand.

Woohoo!
posted by mark13 at 10:37 AM on April 21, 2003


?!, I'm not as much consistent with my irritation as irritated with this one particular consistency.

As a thread above us is noting as well, the media in this country is damn near obsessed with imperiled young white women. Be it some maternal instinct, a chauvinistic psychology that makes us "worry more" about women than men, or flat-out inherent racial stereotyping that makes us fear that the girl is in the hands of the savage gigantic dark-skinned man who kidnapped/captured her, there is an undeniable bias towards reporting, discussing, and above all else personalizing the photogenic female news subject.

Captured male soldiers are not given this level of sentimentality, nor for that matter, was a non-white female officer captured only weeks prior to the Lynch story. My point was more that the media seems to care much more about who this woman was off-duty than what she was doing on-duty that caused her capture in the first place. It's that lack of information that is leading to speculative threads like this, and only adds to more of the Fox/MSNBC/CNN flag-waving and music-scoring in place of actual information for the American public.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:44 AM on April 21, 2003


The account of senselessly trashing a bed and terrorizing a handful of doctors strikes me as far more believable than the thrill of fresh-faced lads bursting in and saying something like "I'm Luke Skywalker and I'm here to rescue you."

I agree. But I don't find that to be any less heroic. I don't find "senselessly trashing a bed" anything to get all bent out of shape over either. It isn't in direct conflict with being heroic to me.
posted by Witty at 10:50 AM on April 21, 2003


People like a good story, facts be damned.

It's a human weakness that has been exploited forever, usually to the advantage of the people telling the story, and to the detriment of the people believing the story.

People pointing out the factual defficiencies in the story are usually treated as hostile by the believers of the story, not because they are disputing the facts of the story, but because they are perceived by the believer to be attempting to disparage the believer, either for their gullibility or their ignorance in forming their beliefs.

People are funny.
posted by dglynn at 10:53 AM on April 21, 2003


Well, all I can say is God Bless Jessica Lynch and everyone who helped her recover and return home safe,.. now they will release Solo and the wookie to me
posted by danger at 11:24 AM on April 21, 2003


I agree with dglynn. People tend to reach a certain point in analysis, (and let's face it, that comes pretty early on) where they make up their mind and assume a stance. Once they've done that, they tend to filter subsequent incoming information through that bias.

The story the "hawks" are bound to believe involves heroism and triumph over adversity; the story the "doves" believe involves malice and bungling. As with most decisions in life, the stories we tell ourselves determine the "facts", not vice versa.
posted by squirrel at 11:36 AM on April 21, 2003


Related to infowar's bit: NPR had a report the day of "rescue" wherein their reporter had more or less just walked into the hospital in question. al-Nasiriyah was within US/Coalition-occupied territory at the time and apparently this was not a big deal.

The reporter took statements from a number of people who made the incident sound about the same as if tanks had rolled up in front of your standard US hospital -- "we would have just discharged her if they'd asked".
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:37 AM on April 21, 2003


Reading this story, I didn't necessarily see a problem. The Special Forces didn't know who could be trusted and who couldn't. They probably didn't know if Jessica's doctor was now her best friend or if he was a Baath party torturer.

Hence, they did the best thing possible under the circumstances: they trusted no one. When you're trying to move in and out of the building quickly, you have no time to ascertain whether the paralyzed man in the gurney is truly disabled or a healthy fedayeen with weapons close at hand.

In retrospect, their high level of security might seem a bit silly. However, what would you be saying now if the special forces had waltzed in, given balloons to the kids and candy to the nurses, taken the time to shake each doctor's hand, and then the soldiers and Jessica and several of the civilians would have been killed in a fedayeen ambush conducted by uninspected persons?

The situation was relatively unknown. None of the civilians were known to be trustworthy. The soldiers reacted in the best way possible and, hence, no one died. I would consider that a very successful operation.
posted by pandaharma at 12:02 PM on April 21, 2003


It was just a bit revealing that one of the American reporters covering the story inadvertently called her 'Private Ryan' on live television and wasn't corrected.

Also, "backside" generally means something else in the US.

An extrusion point for shit? Seems the right word here.
posted by riviera at 12:03 PM on April 21, 2003


Actually, I saved Private Jessica. I was also The Fifth Beatle. Oh: and Elvis is everywhere.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:17 PM on April 21, 2003


Haw haw. PFC J Lynch is such a focus for pro/anti war folk.

War is hell. Beer is good.
posted by chrid at 1:31 PM on April 21, 2003


Elvis is everywhere (direct link to audio file)
posted by ElvisJesus at 1:48 PM on April 21, 2003


mark13: I'm very confused. Where did I mention George W.? You wouldn't be, you know, trolling or anything?
posted by dhartung at 3:20 PM on April 21, 2003


XQUZYPHYR: Well said

The majority of the media is simply in the business of boosting ratings. If PFC. Lynch is found to harbor some dark secret they will drop her story in a heartbeat. Unless, of course, they can get rating points for outing said secret. I long ago decided all "news" is propaganda.
posted by ?! at 4:13 PM on April 21, 2003


I dunno. Preemptive heroism is a natural adjunct to prophetic prophylactism.
posted by Opus Dark at 4:26 PM on April 21, 2003


People are funny.
Yeah, in a "if you don't laugh, you might have to look at the way people really act and then you would have to shoot yourself in the head at the sheer hopelessness of it all" kind of way.
posted by dg at 5:23 PM on April 21, 2003


It is true that all who wear intellectual knee pads in the presence of BDUs....or the latest gee whiz ordnance....or the reverent neoconservative whispers of Manifest Destiny reincarnated and morality be damned....may not in fact be actually fellating (so to speak) Our Fearless Commander in Chief.

Our Boys bravely handcuffing "enemy" physicians heavily armed with stethoscopes (potential garottes, ya know), and courageously binding paralyzed patients (who could've maybe, um, aggressively rolled onto one of Our Troops, ya know), isn't that much different than the mentality and ethics U.S. "servicemen" exhibit when gallantly firing into civilian vehicles, or dropping munitions into neighborhoods.

It's "full caution".

Yeah, you know. Another one of those wonderful euphemisms some folks use to assuage their guilt....like "collateral damage". "Full caution". It's all "certainly warranted"....warranted, that is, from a certainly ethically bankrupt perspective that wants to convince us that labeling someone "the enemy" or "the terrorist" justifies practically any act, and its accompanying propaganda.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 8:19 PM on April 21, 2003


Yeah, what fold_and_mutilate said.
posted by rfordh at 10:52 PM on April 21, 2003


Easy for you to say fold_and_mutilate... always so easy for you to say.

A close friend of the family.

That “Rusty” Rippetoe, 27, of Arvada, Colo., died trying to help someone else came as no surprise to those who knew him.

He was killed in a suicide car-bomb attack April 3 while coming to the aid of a pregnant woman standing next to the car. The woman, who had been a passenger in the car, also was killed.

posted by Witty at 9:14 AM on April 22, 2003


Hey, who finished the beer?!?

I'm always late to these things.

Oh, by the way, there seems to be some confusion suffered by some peoples here abouts. The issue isn't were they really heroic, did they use excessive force, were they scared, whatever. The issue is, after the fact the media chose to portray the incident one way, a way that did not mesh with reality. They created propoganda rather than reporting news. Why did they do that?
posted by Outlawyr at 10:30 AM on April 22, 2003


My sentiments exactly, Outlawyr, where is that line, constantly crossed by chez Pentagon? Obfuscate being the operative word from them. Justify at all costs the war, to which they don't admit is even a war. Humph.

Another take on Saving Private Lynch....
The real "Saving Private Lynch" by Mitch Potter of the Toronto Star of May 4, 2003. "Iraqui medical staff tell a different story than US military." "How grand a myth was built around the four hours the US raiding party spent with them [on April Fool's Day]," no less.

"Iraqui soldiers and commanders had left the hospital almost two days earlier". "The night they left, a few of the senior medical staff tried to give Jessica back. We carefully moved her out of intensive care and into an ambulance and began to drive to the Americans, who were just one kilometre away. But when the ambulance got within 300 metres, they began to shoot. There wasn't even a chance to tell them `We have Jessica. Take her.'"

One night later, the raid unfolded.According to Dr. Harith Houssona, 24, who came to consider Lynch a friend after nurturing her through the worst of her injuries.

How the story by Mitch Potter varies from this one. As reported by Thom Shanker of the NYTimes [International Herald online link] and from FoxNews [the mother of all news], according to a Washington Post report.

Yes, I'm not surprised how the stories differ. Should Bush hire a better script writer? Seems everything so far has been a tad transparent. We can all tell where the story and plot are heading and are thinking of asking for a refund from the box office at this point.

Peace to those lost in the same outfit as Private Lynch's: DoD identified eight of the bodies as American soldiers: Sgt. George E. Buggs, 31, of Barnwell, S.C.; Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland, Ohio; Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto, 18, of El Paso, Texas; Spc. James M. Kiehl, 22, of Comfort, Texas; Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Villareal Mata, 35, of Amarillo, Texas; Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, 23, of Tuba City, Ariz.; Pvt. Brandon U. Sloan, 19, of Cleveland, Ohio; and Sgt. Donald R. Walters, 33, of Kansas City, Mo.

Seems Private Lynch's boyfriend was among them [Pvt. Ruben Estrella-Soto].

Above provided by defenselink
posted by alicesshoe at 1:25 PM on May 4, 2003


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