Tuesday, June 17, 2003
This morning the Washington Post again stuns the reader with an attempt at correcting the paper’s initial anonymously sourced reporting of the capture and rescue of Army PFC Jessica Lynch:
The Post's initial coverage attracted widespread criticism because many of the sources were unnamed and because the accounts were soon contradicted by other military officials…[in today’s story] The Post interviewed dozens of people, including associates of Lynch's family in West Virginia; Iraqi doctors, nurses and civilian witnesses in Nasiriyah; and U.S. intelligence and military officials in Washington…While much more is revealed about her ordeal, most U.S. officials still insisted that their names be withheld from this account.
I find it interesting that the Iraqi were willing to be quoted on the record while US military and political officials were not.
As the Post recounts the events and inactions that culminated in what appears to be the completely unnecessary deaths of 11 and the capture of 6 young American soldiers, one can more clearly imagine why certain powers seem so intent upon obscuring that first week of uncertain ground war:
Army investigators believe this [the ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company] happened in part because superiors [a battalion commander in the 3rd Forward Support] never passed on word that the long 3rd Infantry Division column that the convoy was following had been rerouted. At times, the 507th was 12 hours behind the main column and frequently out of radio contact…"We believe it would have never happened if the proper procedure had been followed." No disciplinary action is expected, said the official, who attributed the tragedy to the fog of war.
Following the command failures, Lynch, and her comrades, were not assisted by their equipment nor the excessive demands placed upon them:
Long before they reached Nasiriyah, two of the 507th's 5-ton trailers had broken down, forcing the back half of the unit -- 18 vehicles in all -- to fall farther behind the lead elements…By the time the 507th reached Nasiriyah, some of the unit's soldiers and officers had gone without sleep for 60 hours. As one officer put it, they suffered "a fatigue that adversely affected their decision-making”… The commander of Lynch's company -- a captain whose identity could not be learned -- informed superiors up ahead that they had fallen as many as 12 hours behind. "He was advised the rest of the column has to move on time whether the rest of them get there or not," a defense official familiar with the Army's investigation said…troops jury-rigged antennas to stay in touch with the lead elements of the battalion, since their radios had a range of only 10 miles. But the radios didn't always work.
The story details many acts of tremendous bravery by these young soldiers including senior noncommissioned officer, Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, who lost his life in the crash that killed PFC Lori Piestewa, two other unidentified soldiers and severely injured Lynch.
It is curious that the name Dowdy has resurfaced within this new version of the Lynch story.
According to an April 5th story by Washington Post staff writer Thomas Ricks:
The Marine Corps relieved one of its top commanders in Iraq yesterday, an extremely unusual action, especially for a unit engaged in combat… Col. Joe W. Dowdy has been the officer in charge of the 1st Marine Regiment, one of the three major Marine Corps ground units fighting toward Baghdad…The U.S. military was unusually guarded about discussing the reason for the battlefield removal. The Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the war, announced the action but offered no explanation for it. Pentagon spokesmen referred questions to the Marine Corps, which had no comment… Dowdy's immediate superior, Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, the commander of the 1st Marine Division, has the reputation of being an extremely aggressive commander.
I have previously posted that the circumstances surrounding Dowdy’s removal and the cause of his complete disappearance from public view could prove to be very illuminating. The new details of the Lynch capture suggest that Colonel Dowdy’s reappearance could provide information vital to America’s proper defense. Additional information in today’s highly interesting Post story provide clues to the source of the first Lynch story and the origin of Colonel Joe Dowdy’s informationless vanishing:
In the hours after the ambush, Arabic-speaking interpreters at the National Security Agency… heard references to "an American female soldier with blond hair who was very brave and fought against them”… Over the next hours and days, commanders… and CIA officers… were bombarded with military "sit reps" and agency Field Information Reports about the ambush… These reports were distributed only to generals, intelligence officers and policymakers in Washington…[after the successful April 1st rescue] Central Command's public affairs office in Qatar geared up to make the most of the rescue…[which] came as a joyous moment in one of the darkest hours of the war, when U.S. troops looked like they were going to be bogged down on their way to Baghdad…Reporters seem to be reporting on each other's information. The rescue turned into a Hollywood concept”…
As was stated earlier in the article:
Neither the Pentagon nor the White House publicly dispelled the more romanticized initial version of her capture, helping to foster the myth surrounding Lynch and fuel accusations that the Bush administration stage-managed parts of Lynch's story.
It is this “stage-managed” element that connects many seemingly unconnected parts of the Iraq II story and screams for further investigation. The trumpeted 1st Lynch rescue story happening only four days before the inversely untrumpeted Dowdy event, without even mentioning WMD, clearly suggest strings leading to a fairly adept puppeteer of public opinion.
Is it un-American to wonder why the 507th’s trucks broke-down, why its communication equipment was so dangerously inadequate and why these brave young soldiers had been awake for 60 straight hours? Is it un-American to wonder what prompted Colonel Dowdy’s historic battlefield removal and subsequent disappearance?
As General Wesley Clark said this past Sunday,“You know, a basic principle of military operations is you conduct an after-action review…You ask yourself what happened, why, and how do we fix it the next time?”
I want the very wise Greg Lynch, his family and my West Virginia friends to know that I pray for Jessica and all the other Jessica’s, female and male wounded and deceased every day. I am so proud of the manner in which they bravely executed their duty.
It is now our duty as fellow citizens and family to demand, for the sake of future combatants and in light of the recently revealed lack of “imminence”, an unpolitized after-action review of the entire drive to Baghdad.
It’s only right.
It’s the American way.
[Jun19] Note: Through Atrios a link to Needlenose who sees the manipulated paper's new Lynch story as a CYA attempt within the stage-managed constraints. An interesting element in all of this has been the head of the Lynch family Greg Lynch who has stayed by Jessica's side. That guy, no matter the media sneering, seems to be a pretty sharp fellow. Many have wondered about Jessica's amnesia. I think enough members of the Lynch family have served in the military to know that their little girl just happened to stumble into a large web spun by some big nasty spiders. Amnesia, as any regular soap opera viewer can tell you, can serve a variety of purposes.