May 23, 2003


Please do pick up a copy of my feature-length interview with gamer-economist Edward Castronova, in Computer Games magazine this month. He's a very interesting guy, and is changing the way a lot of people are thinking about for-pay virtual spaces.

Posted by BruceR at 04:28 PM


Bill Herbert:

"The Media Research Center piece [transcribing a FoxNews broadcast with their military analyst David Hunt] quotes Hunt only as saying that "there were 25 to 30 guys, armed, both fedayeen and army, Iraqi military outside and inside the hospital." He does not specifically allege, as Bruce suggests, that there was fighting inside the hospital (CENTCOM had stated on April 2 that there was no gunfire inside the hospital), unless you consider flex-cuffing the hospital staff a fight."

Hunt's actual quote in question:

Our guys wound up killing about ten fedayeen outside the hospital and a few inside, armed Iraqis.

That's about as specific an allegation as you can make, I'd say.

Herbert again says that, because there were a number of stories in the first 48 hours that said Lynch had not been shot (in addition with dozens more that said she was), that therefore there was nothing new to report on Lynch's injuries by the time interviewers could get to the Nasariyah hospital. Of course, the first stories of the frenzy are always chaotic, but I still think it's fair to say that the conventional wisdom in Americans' minds after the first couple days was that Lynch had been shot, either in captivity or while struggling valiantly, and that that was not definitively retracted until much later. People magazine was saying definitively she had, long afterwards, for instance: here's their April 21 report on the subject (not online):

Her doctors now say they are certain some of her injuries--which went untreated for her nine days in captivity, leading to infection--were caused by gunshots. "The injuries are open fractures, which is to say the bone come through the skin," says Landstuhl spokesman Capt. Norris Jones, who adds that an absence of bullets or metal shards initially led doctors to assume there were no gunshot wounds.

I'm certain Bill looks forward, as I do, to Capt. Jones being charged for breaking the law on disclosure of soldiers' injuries.

At the same time (April 14 issue) Time magazine was saying this:

According to the Washington Post, Lynch, an Army supply clerk with only minimal combat training, shot several advancing Iraqi soldiers, emptying her weapon of ammunition and possibly incurring a series of gunshot wounds.

Newsweek's story the same day, in an issue which had Lynch on the cover, had this to say:

Later that day, though, surgeons discovered that she had been shot?and, according to a family spokesman in West Virginia, Dan Little, her wounds were ?consistent with low-velocity small arms.?

Meanwhile, over at USA Today:

Gunshots may have caused open fractures on her upper right arm and lower left leg, according to the hospital. (Apr. 12 issue)

In fact, all the Associated Press stories filed from Landstuhl, Germany from April 8 until April 13, when Lynch was shipped back home, contained some version of that same sentence:

"Gunshots may have caused open fractures on her upper right arm and lower left leg, according to the hospital."

Those AP stories about Lynch's return were pretty widely picked up. So it's fair to say that, as of April 13, the day before the first report from the Nasariyah hospital, pretty much every daily paper and newsweekly in the United States would have had that as its last word, attributed to a military medical source.

UPDATE: Herbert responds, saying my position is varying. My position on the actual rescue incident hasn't changed all week... it's still what I wrote here. The very narrow tangent we're on now started, if you read back, with this comment by, cited approvingly on Instapundit: "I remember this [her being shot] being reported by virtually every news source when she was initially found. I also remember all these same news sources correcting themselves when it turned out that she was not thus injured. Is this evidence of a grand conspiracy?"

I think I've established that up to the point stories started coming out of the Nasariyah hospital, the conventional wisdom, based on stories out of Landstuhl, Germany, was that there were gunshot wounds among Lynch's injuries. (I think if People, Time, Newsweek, USA Today and all the dailies are reporting that at the time, that's gotta count as CW.) The only thing that's changed is that I thought the first of those stories came May 5, when actually, as Bill pointed out, it came April 14. Bill has also cited a number of the confusing early accounts from before Lynch was shipped to Landstuhl, or just after she arrived, on April 4. Those don't count... they themselves were all effectively "corrected" by the newer, it turns out now incorrect information coming out of the German hospital after her arrival there. It's THAT information that I'm saying had not been refuted until the Iraqi doctors started talking. Hence the light that the Iraqi doctors could shed was still a valuable corrective on our picture, which at the time was still getting poisoned by blowhards like FoxNews' David "I talked to a guy who was number one guy in the door" Hunt.

Herbert talks about Jayson Blair. Well, fine... why hasn't FoxNews censured Hunt for telling complete lies on-air about the raid, or even corrected him? He's presumably a paid employee, judging from his daily appearances during the war... he had a public podium thanks to Fox, and he relayed what now are clear are utter lies about this incident. How about the Post's Susan Schmidt, already tarnished as a journalist in the Clinton days, and whose one story the whole war on Jessica's last stand is now revealed to be total nonsense? Is yanking the story off the web and hiding it the only response we can expect from the Post? As Needlenose pointed out, Schmidt's story was page 1... the interview with the doctors was page 17. As I pointed out, I could only find two other papers (including Lynch's hometown daily) that even ran the second one at all.

Herbert and I seem to agree that the print accounts out of Iraq that the controversial BBC report was based on are getting us closer to the truth. I have had harsh words for the BBC's John Kampfner on his truth-stretching... the difference is, I'm spreading it around and giving everyone who made up stuff and used this poor girl's story to their advantage a full measure of scorn... I just wonder whether Herbert and Instapundit and the rest can feel totally comfortable only dinging one side in this. Is it okay to be sensationalist, so long as you're not sensationalist and anti-American both?

Posted by BruceR at 10:17 AM


What's interesting about this is that -- contrary to the revisionists' spin -- this makes clear that a lot of the Lynch stories didn't originate with the Pentagon to begin with.
--lnstapundit, today

The original Washington Post story, dated April 3 (now pulled from their website):

WASHINGTON - Pfc. Jessica Lynch, rescued Tuesday from an Iraqi hospital, fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers after Iraqi forces ambushed the Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance company, firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Lynch, 19, a supply clerk, continued firing at the Iraqis even after she sustained multiple gunshot wounds and watched several other soldiers in her unit die in fighting 11 days ago, one official said. The ambush took place after a 507th convoy took a wrong turn in the southern city of Nasiriyah.

"She was fighting to the death," the official said. "She did not want to be taken alive."

Lynch was stabbed when Iraqi forces closed in on her position, the official said, noting that initial intelligence reports indicated that she had been stabbed to death.

So apparently, pretty much ALL the Lynch myth originated "with the Pentagon to begin with," Glenn. Not the "official Pentagon," perhaps, but certainly in the same building.

Of course we also have Donald Rumsfeld's comments from his briefing the morning after on the subject:

"We are certainly grateful for the brilliant and courageous rescue of Sergeant, correction PFC Jessica Lynch who was being held by Iraqi forces in, in what they called a 'hospital.'"

NB: CBC Newsworld will be running the Kampfner documentary at 10 p.m. this Sunday if anyone around here wants to see it. Also, here's Needlenose's take, complete with lessons for aspiring journalists.

Posted by BruceR at 10:03 AM