As the myth of the ?Spineless Democrat? runs rampant on Capitol Hill, Rep. Dennis Kucinich shows his backbone in a letter to Donald Rumsfeld, demanding full disclosure of the Pvt. Jessica Lynch rescue. In addition to ordering the public release of the unedited video footage, Kucinich?who?s vying with eight other Democrats for the party?s presidential endorsement?has requested clarification of several questions surrounding the events of her rescue.
Dear Secretary Rumsfeld,
I am writing to request your assistance in resolving the controversy surrounding the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch.
In the days following Private Lynch?s rescue from an Iraqi hospital by U.S. Special Forces, numerous U.S. officials described to national media outlets the circumstances surrounding this event. They portrayed Private Lynch as receiving bullet and knife wounds, experiencing mistreatment by Iraqi officials, and being spirited away amid harsh enemy fire. They reported that Private Lynch suffered amnesia and could not recall her rescue. Although U.S. officials requested anonymity, their stories were widely reported without correction or qualification by the Defense Department. Indeed, the Department appeared to confirm the accuracy of these reports, releasing for reporters an edited section of videotape taken by a military cameraman using night vision equipment. Indeed, in introducing this clip, General Vincent Brooks, the U.S. spokesman in Doha, reportedly said: ?Some brave souls put their lives on the line to make this happen.?
More recently, however, contrary media accounts have emerged. At their core, these accounts argue that the rescue was essentially staged for a made-for-TV video. Specifically, these accounts have reported that, in fact, Private Lynch sustained no bullet or knife injuries. They have also reported that U.S. forces knew in advance of the operation that no Iraqi forces were guarding the hospital. They have reported that Iraqi medical staff treated Private Lynch humanely, even donating their own blood. They have reported that Iraqi medical staff actually tried to deliver Private Lynch in an ambulance two days earlier, but they were fired upon by U.S. forces. And they have reported that U.S. forces participating in the rescue of Private Lynch were not fired upon by Iraqi forces. Perhaps the harshest account claimed that the Pentagon?s staging of this event was ?one of the most stunning pieces of news management yet conceived.? And Private Lynch?s father, Greg Lynch, told reporters that Private Lynch did not in fact suffer from amnesia. When he was asked to elaborate on the military operation that recovered his daughter, he said, ?Right now we are really not supposed to talk about that subject, you know.?
As you can see there is a wide gap between the facts as reported initially and the manner in which they are being reported now. As I understand the Defense Department?s position, these recent accounts are ?outrageous, patently false and unsupported by the facts.? At the same time, Defense Department officials now seem to be qualifying their earlier statements. For example, Bryan Whitman, Department of Defense spokesman, reportedly said ?the U.S. military never claimed that the troops came under fire when they burst into the hospital.?
I believe it is time for the Department of Defense to fully disclose what happened.
First, I request that you order the public release of the unedited footage taken by the military cameraman of the military operation to recover Private Lynch. There has been a great deal of commentary on the manner in which the Department edited and aired a videotape of the rescue operation. Several media representatives have requested that the full tape be released so the American people can make an independent assessment of these conflicting claims. I see no reason for the Department to reject this request.
Second, I would like you to answer formally the following questions about the health status of Private Lynch and the military operation to recover her:
- Did U.S. forces encounter any Iraqi forces in the hospital?
- Were U.S. troops fired upon during the rescue operation? If so, please describe specifically the nature of the interchange.
- Did U.S. [forces] have any information suggesting that Iraqi forces had abandoned the hospital?
- Did Private Lynch sustain any gunshot or knife wounds?
- Did U.S. officials have any information suggesting that Iraqi medical staff were trying to deliver Private Lynch to American forces?
- Did U.S. forces at any time fire on any ambulances?
Finally, I understand the Department has ordered an investigation into the facts surrounding Private Lynch?s capture by Iraqi forces. I also understand, however, that investigators were not asked to examine the circumstances surrounding Private Lynch?s rescue. In light of the controversy that has arisen regarding this case, I suggest that the Pentagon?s ongoing investigation also include the facts surrounding Private Lynch?s rescue as well.
If you have any questions about this request, please call my Legislative Director, Jaron Bourke... I look forward to receiving your response.
Dennis J. Kucinich, Ranking Minority Member Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations
- The Truth About Jessica, The Guardian (May 15, 2003)
- Pentagon Aims Guns at Lynch Reports, Los Angeles Times (May 29, 2003)?registration required
- U.S. Rejects BBC Lynch Report, BBC (May 20, 2003)
Go there>>Does the Pentagon Have Amnesia on Lynch?