The Army is investigating the Iraqi ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company that resulted in nine dead soldiers and six prisoners of war, including Pfc. Jessica Lynch, according to the Washington Times.
Described as “extremely complex,” the probe was ordered by Brig. Gen. Howard Bromberg, the commander of the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Lynch during her rescue from Iraqi captivity
The Times reports one question the investigation will delve into is the plight of now-20-year-old Lynch, whose much-celebrated Special Ops rescue caught on videotape served as a high point in the conflict in Iraq.
“Part of it will look at what happened to each of the soldiers,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Joe Curtin told the paper. “It will determine whether [Pfc. Lynch] was in an accident. When the ambush hit, did the vehicle wreck or did she fight?”
As WorldNetDaily reported, the Washington Post reported Lynch “sustained multiple gunshot wounds” and also was stabbed while she “fought fiercely and shot several enemy soldiers … firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition.” The paper cited an unnamed U.S. military official as saying “she was fighting to the death.”
The front-page March 23 story was picked up by news outlets all over the world.
But hours after it hit the newsstands, Col. David Rubenstein, commander of the Army hospital in Germany where Lynch was taken, told reporters medical evidence did “not suggest that any of her wounds were caused by either gunshots or stabbing.” Lynch’s father echoed that report the following day, telling reporters that Army doctors told him Jessica hadn’t been shot, but suffered arm and leg fractures.
Nearly two weeks after its initial report, and following an AP report from medical staff in Germany that Lynch’s wounds may have been caused by a “low-velocity, small-caliber weapon,” the Post quoted a physician at the Iraqi hospital in Nasiriyah was treated as saying Lynch had sustained a head injury and arm and leg fractures, but “there were no bullets or shrapnel or anything like that.”
Two Pentagon officials in interviews with the Times also cast doubt on the Post report of Lynch “fighting to the death.” The officials said all evidence suggests that Lynch’s truck crashed in the chaos of the ambush in the central Iraqi town of Nasiriyah. She suffered several bone fractures and was in no position to put up a fight, the officials said.
The West Virginian is undergoing occupational and physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She told investigators she has no memory of what happened between the ambush on March 23, when her convoy took a wrong turn in the desert, and waking up in the Iraqi hospital.
According to the Associated Press, she said her vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
The Times said the commander’s inquiry will examine a full range of issues, including leadership, training, any mechanical failures and tactics. Judicial and administrative punishment will be sought if misconduct is found by any company member.
The paper also reports the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command is conducting a parallel investigation to determine whether Iraqis committed war crimes.
Video footage aired on Iraqi television after the ambush showed the bodies of American soldiers with apparent gunshot wounds to their heads. If the nine slain members of the 507th were executed, it would be a violation of the Geneva Convention.
According to medical staff at the Iraqi civilian hospital in Nasiriya where Lynch was found by U.S. forces, the Army supply clerk was first treated at an Iraqi military hospital.
There are no reports regarding what happened to Lynch at that military facility, nor is there confirmation the “hospital” was in fact a hospital. It has been widely reported that many of Iraq’s torture chambers were disguised as innocent buildings such as hotels and sports centers.
Human rights organizations report torture was systematically used by Saddam Hussein’s regime against political detainees. Beatings with canes, whips, hose pipes and metal rods were common, especially on the soles of victims’ feet. Raping female political prisoners was also part of the regime’s policy.
The other rescued POWs told The Post and the Miami Herald they were kicked and beaten when captured, and were taunted and interrogated by their captors and some feared they were going to die.
One of the POWs, Army Sgt. James Riley, described the experience as “sheer terror” on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The results of both Army probes are much anticipated by foes and fans of women in combat, who view Lynch’s POW experience as rekindling the long-simmering debate over the role of women in the military and how close to the frontlines they should be allowed to serve.
Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness and a member of WND’s Speakers’ Bureau, suspects “Pentagon feminists,” who she says have actively pursued the advancement of women in the military beyond the dictates of common sense and at the cost of military effectiveness, are behind the unsubstantiated report of Lynch’s valor and erroneous report of her injuries.
“I think someone in the Army – probably a woman – leaked the story to the Washington Post to spin it,” she told WorldNetDaily. “If you plant the story first, it’s almost impossible to turn.”
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