Editor’s note: Each week, WorldNetDaily White House correspondent Les Kinsolving asks the tough questions no one else will ask. And each week, WorldNetDaily brings you the transcripts of those dialogues with the president and his spokesman. If you’d like to suggest a question for the White House, submit it to WorldNetDaily’s exclusive interactive forum MR. PRESIDENT!

At today’s White House news briefing, WND asked presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer about the Iraqis’ holding of a female United States soldier as a prisoner of war and how it relates to the issue of women in combat.

WND: Ari, one of the U.S. POWs in Iraq is Shoshana Johnson of Texas, while The New York Times this morning reports that Pfc. Jessica Lynch of West Virginia is missing or captured. And during Desert Storm, Maj. Rhonda Cornum was captured and gang-raped, while the other U.S. female prisoner of war would neither confirm or deny that she, too, was gang-raped. And my question, does the president think that the Iraqi army has somehow changed to avoid the raping of female prisoners?


WND: Or does he believe that it would be wise –


WND: – to keep the women out of combat areas?

FLEISCHER: The history of our military is that men and women have served this nation honorably and with distinction. The treatment of prisoners by Saddam Hussein is the only point worth mentioning here. It’s a given that men and women serve our country with dignity, that Saddam Hussein’s regime had better not harm our prisoners. The president has made that clear. … Lester, no follow-up.

The Washington Times reported yesterday that Johnson was the first U.S. female held as a POW since the Clinton administration’s military leaders repealed a rule barring servicewomen from positions with a high risk of encountering enemy fire or capture.

“It’s bad when a man is captured. But if a woman is captured, she doesn’t have the same chance [to defend herself] that a man does,” Elaine Donnelly, president of the Military Readiness Center, told the paper.

Said retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, “You must consider that women in every society are preyed upon if they are overtaken. … Now that women are closer to the front lines, they are more subject to becoming captives and being manipulated.”

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