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[] The Big Lie Of Jessica Lynch,

Published on Friday, September 5, 2003 by the San Francisco Chronicle

The Big Lie Of Jessica Lynch
A $1 Mil Book Deal, Zero Memory Of Any "Rescue" And The Worst Book
You'll Read This Year

by Mark Morford

  Hey, remember that dramatic CNN footage of that big statue of Saddam
Hussein being toppled by U.S. forces in that Baghdad square a few months
back, during the "war"? Remember how powerfully symbolic it was supposed
 to be? Remember, later, seeing the wide-angle shot on the Internet, the
  one of all the U.S. tanks surrounding the square and the whole bogus
 setup of how they staged the event, complete with a big crane and some
   strong cable and strategically positioned "citizens" cheering their
    "liberation" as the statue fell, as just off camera, a handful of
genuine Iraqis loitered nearby, looking confused and bored? Remember how
 you felt then? Like this little black worm had bored into your skin and
  was crawling around in your small intestine and you had the perpetual
 urge to go off into the corner and eat pie and slam double scotches and
 scream at the state of BushCo's nation? The Jessica Lynch story is just
  like that, only much, much worse. These are the things that make you
  wince and sigh. These are the things that put it all in perspective,
 make you realize what the Pentagon and the military hawks really value.
These are the things that make you realize, goddammit, here I am working
  every day and struggling to make ends meet in a BushCo-gutted economy
and all I really needed to do all along to make a million bucks is stage
 some sort of bogus wartime heroics and sell it to a war-numbed American
  populace for $24.95 in hardback, and, boom, Range Rover City. Jessica
Lynch. You know the one. The sweet, American-pie 19-year-old soldier and
kindergarten-teacher wanna-be whose army squad took a wrong turn in Iraq
 and was, apparently, ambushed. And some of her comrades were killed and
  she was taken prisoner, full of stab wounds and bullet holes, and she
  was whisked off to a ragged Iraqi hospital and held for eight days by
    vicious Iraqi guards and ostensibly abused, and later supposedly
 "rescued" in the most daring and macho made-for-TV moment of the war by
 elite teams of hunky U.S. Army Rangers and U.S. Navy SEALs. Wow. Except
    that it never really happened that way. Except that Lynch herself
   doesn't remember a single thing and all the nurses and doctors and
eyewitnesses on the scene say the Iraqi fedayeen guards had fled the day
 before the "rescue," and there was no danger whatsoever, no resistance
of any kind, the U.S. forces could just walk right in, and they knew it.
  And the hospital doors were wide open, and the nurses and doctors had
 gone out of their way to provide decent care for our precious Jessica,
considering the circumstances, and doctors even tried to return Lynch to
   U.S. forces themselves. And despite U.S. claims, Lynch had no knife
wounds or bullet holes at all, just a few broken bones, and the dramatic
 and violent "rescue" was really just inane and silly and entirely faked
  and yet America bought it, hook, line and Rumsfeld, because it was on
TV. And now, here we are. Jessica and disgraced N.Y. Times reporter Rick
 "Oh my God do I need a gig" Bragg just inked a $1 million book deal to
 tell her nonstory, titled "I'm a Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story,"
 not "Oh My God You Are Such a Sucker for Buying This Book I Mean Wow."
  Because this is how we fabricate our history. This is how we spin our
patriotism, how we bake our jingoistic cake, the Lynch tale the most apt
  and definitive myth of the war so far. Because Jessica's story, much
  like WMDs and Saddam's nukes and biotoxins and Orange Alerts and our
imminently prosperous economy and Jenna Bush's ostensible prowess with a
    beer bong, does not rely on truths. We do not rely on first-hand
 reports. We do not rely on anything so piffling and small and dangerous
   as honesty. We rely, simply, on PR. We believe the TV images of the
  bogus "rescue" at the expense of common sense because we are a nation
 drunk on the idea that the U.S. can do no wrong and TV would never lie.
   And goddammit if Hannity and Rush and O'Reilly say it happened like
  that, it must be true, and damn you America-hating libs for daring to
question the integrity of our armed forces when they are out there right
    now protecting us from, uh, what was it again? Higher gas prices?
 Israel's scorn? Dick Cheney's pallid sneer? Something like that. Look,
 there is no war without spin. There is no war without outright lying to
the populace, without trying to coerce a wary nation into supporting our
   unprovoked savagery by way of Hollywood-style set pieces performed
specifically to deflect attention from the brutality and the decapitated
children and the still-dying U.S. soldiers and the burning bodies by the
    side of the road. This is nothing shocking. This is nothing even
 remotely unusual or uncommon. The fabric of war consists not of gallant
 battles fought by hardy soldiers for some noble collective good yay yay
 go team, but of manufactured tales of valiant brotherhood and purebred
 heroism designed to make the vile pill slightly less bitter. War is, of
   course, vicious and primitive and disgustingly violent and not the
 slightest bit gallant, and America has rarely been more thuggish in its
  short history than when we annihilated Afghanistan and Iraq lo these
 past few years, the world's greatest bloated superpower hammering down
   on two nearly defenseless, piss-poor nations in the name of, well,
  petrochemical rights and strategic political positioning. It's not a
 war, it's a gang beating. Uncle Sam wants you. And, hence, we need the
  sugar. We desperately need the sweet, teary-eyed images of flags and
   salutes and stunning "rescues" to make it all go down smoothly, to
 suppress the collective recoil, the national gag reflex. After all, who
 wants to see burning babies and crying mothers and hot screaming death
 on prime time? Show me Old Glory waving in slo-mo! Ahh, that's better.
   We need, in short, pretty 19-year-old memory-impaired soldier girls
 being rescued by manly SEALs wearing bitchin' night-vision goggles and
 yelling "Go! Go! Go!" with lots of explosions and helicopters and maybe
  a cameo by Bruce Willis looking squinty and tough, with the Pentagon
 cameras rolling and everyone's adrenaline pumping like at a horse race,
  except for maybe the baffled Iraqi hospital personnel who were calmly
  taking care of Ms. Lynch when the U.S. storm troopers swooped in and
 knocked them down. Of course, this isn't about Jessica herself at all.
  She has served her country bravely and is probably very sweet and at
 least partially articulate and is just in it for the quick wad of cash,
  and what the hell she doesn't remember a damn thing about the rescue
 anyway, which makes her the perfect one to write a whole book about it,
with Bragg along to, ahem, "fill in the blanks." Ain't that America. And
 we can just imagine how the Pentagon brass doubtlessly winked at Jessie
  and said hey sweetie, you go girl, take the book deal, and the movie
  deal, and the commemorative plates by the Franklin Mint, it would be
  good for the country if you go along with the ruse, there there now,
  that's a good little soldier. Jessica Lynch is but a puppet, a toy, a
convenient TV-ready canvass onto which we can project our impotent myths
of patriotism and war, spit forth by the BushCo military machine to ease
 America's pain, to assuage that increasingly nagging fear that we have
  committed this horrible thing, this irreversible atrocity. In short,
  Jessica's myth helps numb the idea that we have removed a pip-squeak,
  nonthreatening tyrant from power and left behind a reeking miasma of
    violence and bloodshed and thousands of dead citizens, more rabid
 anti-U.S. sentiment and mistrust and global instability than Saddam (or
Osama) could've ever dreamed. And little Ms. Lynch, she is America's new
     doll. She is our little G.I. Jessica, all safe and clean in her
 homecoming fatigues, her imaginary story ready to grace the nightstands
 of the happily gullible across America. Because really, why bother with
  all that icky messy nonfiction, all that violent unsavory fact, when
         straight fiction is so much more, you know, patriotic?
 Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday
 on SF Gate, unless it appears on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which it never
   does. He also writes the Morning Fix, a deeply skewed thrice-weekly
               e-mail column and newsletter. ©2003 SF Gate

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