Advance press of former POW Jessica Lynch’s biography includes the shocking revelation the 19-year-old Army supply clerk was raped and sodomized by her Iraqi captors.
In “I Am a Soldier, Too,” the authorized biography written by best-selling author Rick Bragg, Lynch offers for the first time brutal details of her treatment as a prisoner of war following the ambush of her 507th Maintenance Company convoy in Nasiriyah on March 23 and before the heroic Special Ops rescue operation that swept her out of harm’s way in the middle of the night nine days later.
“Jessi lost three hours,” Bragg wrote, according to the New York Daily News, who obtained a copy of the book. “She lost them in the snapping bones, in the crash of the Humvee, in the torment her enemies inflicted on her after she was pulled from it.”
According to Bragg, Lynch’s medical records indicate she was anally
“The records do not tell whether her captors assaulted her almost lifeless, broken body after she was lifted from the wreckage, or if they assaulted her and then broke her bones into splinters until she was almost dead,” the Daily News quotes from the book.
Lynch and her parents also shared the grim details of her ordeal in an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer, which will air on a special edition of “Primetime” Tuesday. The parents say they rejected any notion of being selective about revealing the details because they want the book to accurately reflect what happened.
WorldNetDaily reported Lynch’s father, Greg Lynch, earlier alluded to a gag order apparently placed on the family during a press conference outside their Palestine, W.Va., home.
“We’re really not supposed to talk about that subject. It’s still under investigation,” he said when asked what Jessica had relayed to them about her POW experience.
Lynch’s 207-page book, published by Knopf, is scheduled to be released Tuesday, which is Veteran’s Day.
Pulitzer Prize winning Bragg has written several books, including the
memoir “All Over but the Shoutin’.” He resigned from the New York Times in May following his suspension over a story that carried his byline but was reported largely by a freelance writer.
News of the assault disturbs military advocate Elaine Donnelly, who has pressed the Pentagon for such details to no avail.
“I’m kind of surprised that the news of rape is coming out so late. We should have learned about this sooner,” Donnelly told WorldNetDaily, adding she suspected Lynch was brutalized after hearing reports that her dogtags were found on the nightstand of one of Saddam Hussein’s Fedayeen fighters.
“I’m so sorry about what happened to Jessica Lynch and my heart goes out to her. I don’t like to be right on these things, but I feared this happened,” Donnelly said.
Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness, an independent public-policy organization that specializes in military personnel issues, and is a member of WND’s Speakers Bureau, blames Lynch’s tragic experience on what she calls “social engineering” policies instituted in the military over the last decade by “Pentagon feminists” seeking to advance the careers of servicewomen at the cost, she says, of military morale, efficiency and readiness.
Donnelly has called on Commander in Chief Bush to give direction to the Pentagon on rolling back Clinton-era policies such as females serving in combat roles, gender quotas, co-ed basic training, the deployment of single mothers and pregnant servicewomen and “overly generous pregnancy policies that subsidize and therefore increase single parenthood.”
Donnelly’s CMR launched a petition drive to gather electronic signatures of like-minded supporters. More than 15,000 people have signed so far. Donnelly hopes to present the petition in a personal meeting with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. No meeting is yet scheduled.
Meanwhile, Army spokesperson Martha Rudd scoffs at the idea the American public should have been told about the rape.
“It’s her business. If you were raped, would you want us to put out a press release?” asked Rudd, after noting Lynch was “free to talk about her experience.”
“We’re very careful here about protecting soldiers who have been injured,” Rudd continued, explaining officials only release information if the injured soldier has given consent. Rudd could not say whether Lynch had specifically declined consent to the release of the rape details by military officials or whether she had consented to the release of other information about her medical condition that surfaced shortly after her rescue.
WorldNetDaily has reported the Washington Post, citing an unnamed Pentagon official, erroneously 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 quoted this official as describing her as “fighting to the death.”
Nearly two weeks after its initial report, the Post essentially retracted this story, this time quoting a physician at the Iraqi hospital in Nasiriyah as saying Lynch had sustained a head injury and arm and leg fractures, but “there were no bullets or shrapnel or anything like that.”
In her book, Lynch sets the record straight, saying she never fired a shot because her M-16 jammed.
“I didn’t kill nobody,” she said.
“When we were told to lock and load, that’s when my weapon jammed,” Lynch told Sawyer, according to ABC. “I did not shoot a single round … I went down praying to my knees. And that’s the last I remember.”
ABC reports Lynch says she felt used by the military.
“It hurt in a way that people would make up stories that they had no truth about. They did not know whether I did that or not. Only I would have been able to know that, because the other four people on my vehicle aren’t here to tell that story. So I would have been the only one able to say, ‘Yeah, I went down shooting.’ But I didn’t. I did not,” Lynch reportedly told Sawyer.
At the time of the false report, Donnelly suspected military officials were spinning the Jessica Lynch story to head off criticism for placing Lynch in a combat-support position in which she became a POW.
As for the privacy issue, Donnelly argues that once Lynch was captured, she became a public figure plastered all over television sets around the world. She stresses that the issue of whether war crimes have been committed against U.S. soldiers carries policy implications.
“If the Pentagon puts a happy face on the situation and describes her
injuries as only being broken bones, they’re not being honest with the American public and with women recruits.”
Col. Denise Dailey, spokesperson for DACOWITS, the advisory committee on women in the military for the Department of Defense, was not available for comment on Lynch’s revelation and associated policy implications.
This is not the first time the assault of a female POW in the Iraqi theater of war was kept under wraps. Flight surgeon Rhonda Cornum was sexually assaulted after being taken prisoner in the Persian Gulf War, but didn’t admit it until a year later, despite giving repeated interviews and testifying before a congressional panel.
During the time of her silence, the role of women in combat was heavily debated. By the time she confessed the depths of her torture, the Department of Defense had eliminated the “Risk Rule,” which held that women could not be placed in combat-support units that had “significant risk of capture.”
For Cornum’s part, she accepts the added element of risk facing women in combat as “just another bad thing that can happen to you.”
In an interview with the women’s news network, WeNews, Cornum downplayed her rape.
“While I was subjected to an unpleasant episode of sexual abuse during my captivity,” she said, “it did not represent a threat to life, limb or chance of being released, and therefore occupied a much lower level of concern than it might have under other circumstances.”
Cornum offers pre-deployment advice for female soldiers, recommending
birth-control methods such as the IUD or implants and suggests they be commenced before deployment “to avoid problems for monogamous women whose spouses might not understand the risk issue.”
Donnelly and other military advocates question the nonchalance afforded to the sexual assault of female soldiers.
“This is an opportunity to search our souls as a nation and determine whether we want this to continue,” she said. “And I think the policies need to be changed.