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the saga of Saving Private Lynch.
Toronto Star ^ | May 4, 2003 | Mitch Potter

Posted on 05/04/2003 6:04:20 AM PDT by OK

the saga of Saving Private Lynch.

Branded on to our consciousness by media frenzy, the flawless midnight rescue of 19-year-old Private First Class Jessica Lynch hardly bears repeating even a month after the fact.

Precision teams of U.S. Army Rangers and Navy Seals, acting on intelligence information and supported by four helicopter gunships, ended Lynch's nine-day Iraqi imprisonment in true Rambo style, raising America's spirits when it needed it most.

All Hollywood could ever hope to have in a movie was there in this extraordinary feat of rescue — except, perhaps, the truth.

So say three Nasiriya doctors, two nurses, one hospital administrator and local residents interviewed separately last week in a Toronto Star investigation.

The medical team that cared for Lynch at the hospital formerly known as Saddam Hospital is only now beginning to appreciate how grand a myth was built around the four hours the U.S. raiding party spent with them early on April Fool's Day.

And they are disappointed.

For Dr. Harith Houssona, 24, who came to consider Lynch a friend after nurturing her through the worst of her injuries, the ironies are almost beyond tabulation.

"The most important thing to know is that the Iraqi soldiers and commanders had left the hospital almost two days earlier," Houssona said. "The night they left, a few of the senior medical staff tried to give Jessica back. We carefully moved her out of intensive care and into an ambulance and began to drive to the Americans, who were just one kilometre away. But when the ambulance got within 300 metres, they began to shoot. There wasn't even a chance to tell them `We have Jessica. Take her.'"

One night later, the raid unfolded. Hassam Hamoud, 35, a waiter at Nasiriya's al-Diwan Restaurant, describes the preamble, when he was approached outside his home near the hospital by U.S. Special Forces troops accompanied by an Arabic translator from Qatar.

"They asked me if any troops were still in the hospital and I said `No, they're all gone.' Then they asked about Uday Hussein, and again, I said `No,'" Hamoud said. "The translator seemed satisfied with my answers, but the soldiers were very nervous."

At midnight, the sound of helicopters circling the hospital's upper floors sent staff scurrying for the x-ray department — the only part of the hospital with no outside windows. The power was cut, followed by small explosions as the raiding teams blasted through locked doors.

A few minutes later, they heard a man's voice shout, "Go! Go! Go!" in English. Seconds later, the door burst open and a red laser light cut through the darkness, trained on the forehead of the chief resident.

"We were pretty frightened. There were about 40 medical staff together in the x-ray department," said Dr. Anmar Uday, 24. "Everyone expected the Americans to come that day because the city had fallen. But we didn't expect them to blast through the doors like a Hollywood movie."

Dr. Mudhafer Raazk, 27, observed dryly that two cameramen and a still photographer, also in uniform, accompanied the U.S. teams into the hospital. Maybe this was a movie after all.

Separately, the Iraqi doctors describe how the tension fell away rapidly once the Americans realized no threat existed on the premises. A U.S. medic was led to Lynch's room as others secured the rest of the three-wing hospital. Several staff and patients were placed in plastic handcuffs, including, according to Houssona, one Iraqi civilian who was already immobilized with abdominal wounds from an earlier explosion.

One group of soldiers returned to the x-ray room to ask about the bodies of missing U.S. soldiers and was led to a graveyard opposite the hospital's south wall. All were dead on arrival, the doctors say.

"The whole thing lasted about four hours," Raazk said. "When they left, they turned to us and said `Thank you.' That was it."

The Iraqi medical staff fanned out to assess the damage. In all, 12 doors were broken, a sterilized operating theatre contaminated, and the specialized traction bed in which Lynch had been placed was trashed.

"That was a special bed, the only one like it in the hospital, but we gave it to Jessica because she was developing a bed sore," Houssona said.

What bothers Raazk most is not what was said about Lynch's rescue, so much as what wasn't said about her time in hospital.

"We all became friends with her, we liked her so much," Houssona said. "Especially because we all speak a little English, we were able to assure her the whole time that there was no danger, that she would go home soon."

Initial reports indicated Lynch had been shot and stabbed after emptying her weapon in a pitched battle when her unit, the U.S. Army's 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, was ambushed after its convoy became lost near Nasiriya.

A few days after her release, Lynch's father told reporters none of the wounds were battle-related. The Iraqi doctors are more specific. Houssona said the injuries were blunt in nature, possible stemming from a fall from her vehicle.

"She was in pretty bad shape. There was blunt trauma, resulting in compound fractures of the left femur (upper leg) and the right humerus (upper arm). And also a deep laceration on her head," Houssona said. "She took two pints of blood and we stabilized her. The cut required stitches to close. But the leg and arm injuries were more serious."

Nasiriya's medical team was going all out at this point, due to the enormous influx of casualties from throughout the region. The hospital lists 400 dead and 2,000 wounded in the span of two weeks before and during Lynch's eight-day stay.

"Almost all were civilians, but I don't just blame the Americans," Raazk said. "Many of those casualties were the fault of the fedayeen, who had been using people as shields and in some cases just shooting people who wouldn't fight alongside them. It was horrible."

But they all made a point of giving Lynch the best of everything, he added. Despite a scarcity of food, extra juice and cookie were scavenged for their American guest.

They also assigned to Lynch the hospital's most nurturing nurse, Khalida Shinah. At 43, Shinah has three daughters close to Lynch's age. She immediately embraced her foreign patient as one of her own.

"It was so scary for her," Shinah said through a translator. "Not only was she badly hurt, but she was in a strange country. I felt more like a mother than a nurse. I told her again and again, Allah would watch over her. And many nights I sang her to sleep."

In the first few days, Houssona said the doctors were somewhat nervous as to whether Iraqi intelligence agents would show any interest in Lynch. But when the road between Nasiriya and Baghdad fell to the U.S.-led coalition, they knew the danger had passed.

"At first, Jessica was very frightened. Everybody was poking their head in the room to see her and she said `Do they want to hurt me?' I told her, `Of course not. They're just curious. They've never seen anyone like you before.'

"But after a few days, she began to relax. And she really bonded with Khalida. She told me, `I'm going to take her back to America with me."

Three days before the U.S. raid, Lynch had regained enough strength that the team was ready to proceed with orthopaedic surgery on her left leg. The procedure involved cutting through muscle to install a platinum plate to both ends of the compound fracture. "We only had three platinum plates left in our supply and at least 100 Iraqis were in need," Raazk said. "But we gave one to Jessica."

A second surgery, and a second platinum plate, was scheduled for Lynch's fractured arm. But U.S. forces removed her before it took place, Raazk said.

Three days after the raid, the doctors had a visit from one of their U.S. military counterparts. He came, they say, to thank them for the superb surgery.

"He was an older doctor with gray hair and he wore a military uniform," Raazk said.

"I told him he was very welcome, that it was our pleasure. And then I told him: `You do realize you could have just knocked on the door and we would have wheeled Jessica down to you, don't you?'

"He was shocked when I told him the real story. That's when I realized this rescue probably didn't happen for propaganda reasons. I think this American army is just such a huge machine, the left hand never knows what the right hand is doing."

What troubles the staff in Nasiriya most are reports that Lynch was abused while in their case. All vehemently deny it.

Told of the allegation through an interpreter, nurse Shinah wells up with tears. Gathering herself, she responds quietly: "This is a lie. But why ask me? Why don't you ask Jessica what kind of treatment she received?"

But that is easier said than done. At the Pentagon last week, U.S. Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Ryan Yantis said the door to Lynch remains closed as she continues her recovery at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Centre.

"Until such time as she wants to talk — and that's going to be no time soon, and it may be never at all — the press is simply going to have to wait."

(Excerpt) Read more at torontostar.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 507th; army; ftbliss; hospital; injuries; jessica; jessicalynch; pfclynch; texas; wva

1 posted on 05/04/2003 6:04:20 AM PDT by OK
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To: OK
Injuries from a fall from her vehicle? Yeah, I really believe that. Thank goodness she was rescued before they operated on her. Sounds like they are the ones doing a CYA.
2 posted on 05/04/2003 6:09:20 AM PDT by gramho12 (God bless our troops)
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To: OK
Sounds like someone is trying to cover their butt in the event war crimes are being considered.
3 posted on 05/04/2003 6:11:29 AM PDT by heylady
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To: OK
So are we to take from this that the lawyer's story is all fabricated?
4 posted on 05/04/2003 6:13:37 AM PDT by Green
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To: OK
B.S. Meter just went off the scale.

I am sure the military put this in the best light possible for public consumption, but for us to believe we could have just walked in and "asked" for Pfc Lynch is a bit much.

5 posted on 05/04/2003 6:16:52 AM PDT by JZoback (Don't have such an open mind, your brain falls out)
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To: gramho12; heylady
It could be CYA, but the curious fact is that Jessica has not talked to the press. These things could be quickly sorted out if she was interviewed by a reporter.

If we accept the thesis that the Iraqi people are happy to be free of Saddam, then why is it hard to believe that doctors and nurses would have treated Jessica well?

6 posted on 05/04/2003 6:19:32 AM PDT by OK
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To: JZoback
There was no resistance to the US military at the hospital that I recall.
7 posted on 05/04/2003 6:21:02 AM PDT by OK
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To: Green
The article did say that Iraqi soldiers were there two days before, which does not contradict the lawyer story.

The part about the ambulance says the Americans were closer to the hospital than was indicated in the lawyer story though. This could have been because they had moved closer in the meantime.
8 posted on 05/04/2003 6:24:01 AM PDT by OK
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To: OK
There was no resistance to the US military at the hospital that I recall.

I understand that, but are POW's routinely just handed over to us from civilians?

She was either a POW or a patient.

If she was a patient, I think the army would be expecting a bill by now.

9 posted on 05/04/2003 6:35:36 AM PDT by JZoback (Don't have such an open mind, your brain falls out)
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To: OK
Sounds like they want to be rewarded like the Iraqi lawyer was. Also, the blunt trauma was supposedly caused by a fall from a vehicle....yeah, right. Where is mention that the Iraqi lawyer decided he had to help after seeing her being slapped while in her hospital bed?
10 posted on 05/04/2003 6:36:01 AM PDT by ItisaReligionofPeace ((the original))
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To: OK
From what I read yesterday, Jessica Lynch has amnesia. I find it quite plausible. I also believe that the average Iraqi wouldn't have harmed her.
11 posted on 05/04/2003 6:37:33 AM PDT by ItisaReligionofPeace ((the original))
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To: OK
Hmmm. I'm slow.
12 posted on 05/04/2003 6:41:40 AM PDT by FryingPan101 (Rummy, Bush, Blair = Men of the year)
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To: OK
Ewww - she got blood while in the hospital? I'll bet they're testinging her exhaustively!
13 posted on 05/04/2003 6:47:48 AM PDT by WIladyconservative
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To: OK
Toronto Star? hmmm....
14 posted on 05/04/2003 6:49:59 AM PDT by ladyjane
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To: JZoback
<<< I understand that, but are POW's routinely just handed over to us from civilians? >>>

In the context of this particular war, maybe, - remember the other seven POWs? They were simply left by the retreating Iraqi army to the local civies who in turn pretty much just turned them over the the advancing U.S. troops.

15 posted on 05/04/2003 6:55:00 AM PDT by Republican Party Reptile
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To: OK
I don't think we Americans were worried about her treatment at the hands of Iraqi medical personnel; it was the Iraqi soldiers and Fedayeen that concerned us.

And, as far as the Canadians go, they can all STFU as far as I'm concerned (like we need them to get at the truth about Iraqi Freedom--sheesh!).

16 posted on 05/04/2003 6:55:56 AM PDT by Pharmboy (Dems lie 'cause they have to)
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To: Republican Party Reptile
In the context of this particular war, maybe, - remember the other seven POWs?

That's true, but the war was just about over when that happened.

17 posted on 05/04/2003 7:00:24 AM PDT by JZoback (Don't have such an open mind, your brain falls out)
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To: FryingPan101
I find nothing implausible in this story, but who knows what the heck happened! At one time the soldier would have been a MAN and as such would have been EXPECTED to provide data in a debriefing. The data would then be examined to ascertain whether he conducted himself properly, his training served him as expected ETC. (Thank God for "amnesia", huh?). None of this will happen because of the 11,000 pound elephant in the room called Political Correctness. You see, the ANSWERS will point to conclusions that are literally illegal to arrive at. Everybody KNOWS this from the getgo. Its like in the old Soviet Union: That which is the "truth" must pass political muster before it my perform as an answer..

And yes a 100lb girl can break bones falling from a military vehicle, whether this happened is academic.
18 posted on 05/04/2003 7:09:14 AM PDT by TalBlack
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To: OK
Dr. Mudhafer Raazk, 27, observed dryly that two cameramen and a still photographer, also in uniform, accompanied the U.S. teams into the hospital. Maybe this was a movie after all.

What Dr. Raazk saw is SOP now. US elite units have been so routinely accused of bogus war crimes that any major SF/Seal/"others who can't be named"/etc direct action mission is taped and photographed. It's a CYA thing.

For that reason, I suspect that Dr. Raazk and his people are telling the truth. Yes, we WOULD go into a hospital where a POW was held loaded for bear, and execute a dynamic entry. Reason? If it is really nothing but a hospital, we won't hurt anybody, because they won't be armed or looking for a fight. But -- if it is full of Fedayeen we have to be ready.

One thing that people don't understand, that the reporter might not have known, and that the hospital staff may not understand yet, is that the US is liable for damage to innocents' property done by our forces. If we really trashed the hospital bed and otherwise damaged the hospital, the administrators can make a claim at the HQ. In Afghanistan, CTF-180 had a whole staff section that did nothing but evaluate and pay these claims. So will the Iraq task force once it is a little more settled.

That may seem like a waste of taxpayers' money. It isn't, at least in Stan: I frequently had people comment on this and contrast it to the way the Soviets behaved. (In my job I meet a lot more "ordinary people" than the average GI). When you do the right thing, people notice. (When you do the wrong thing, they really notice).

Note the tone of the Iraqis in the article. They are showing a lot of forbearance, compared to some of their more immediate-gratification oriented countrymen. I think they realise that a period of US stewardship for their country can be very good for their hospital and its patients.

d.o.l.

Criminal Number 18F

19 posted on 05/04/2003 7:13:50 AM PDT by Criminal Number 18F (who expects his women to have curves here and there... bags of bones don't cut it)
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To: OK
I have never thought Jessica's injuries occurred at the hospital. However there are no reports about what happened to her before she got to the hospital.

Well, I did hear something on the G. Gordon Liddy show - That she was hanged by her feet and beaten with a club or baseball bat. which would account for two fractured legs, a fractured arm, a fractured vertebrae and maybe the head laceration.

20 posted on 05/04/2003 7:22:37 AM PDT by chainsaw
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To: OK

CYA Alert !!!

21 posted on 05/04/2003 7:25:56 AM PDT by bert (Don't Panic !)
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To: OK
Platinum plates? Some obscure hospital in the middle of Iraq has platinum plates?
22 posted on 05/04/2003 7:30:12 AM PDT by tet68 (Jeremiah 51:24 ..."..Before your eyes I will repay Babylon for all the wrong they have done in Zion")
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To: OK
I believe the only report of mistreatment was the laywer who saw a fedayeen slap her.

Nine of her comrades were killed in the ambush, so we presume they all didn't just fall out of their trucks. Two of the POW's had less serious injuries as well.

So Lynch's injuries were likely sustained in the initial ambush environment.

There would be little reason to suppose that the health workers at the hospital would mistreat her, and we've had no actual witnesses suggest that beyone the slapping incident by a fedayeen, which occurred several days before her rescue.

So the hosptial staff could be telling the true, or polishing it up a bit.

Lynch and the other POW's are still heroes -- they put their lives on the line in a combat zone.
23 posted on 05/04/2003 7:36:37 AM PDT by jlogajan
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To: TalBlack
At one time the soldier would have been a MAN and as such would have been EXPECTED to provide data in a debriefing. The data would then be examined to ascertain whether he conducted himself properly, his training served him as expected ETC. (Thank God for "amnesia", huh?).

Oh give it a rest. All three women in that unit were either killed or injured in combat -- in service to this country. Go soak your head.

24 posted on 05/04/2003 7:42:15 AM PDT by jlogajan
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To: OK
then why is it hard to believe that doctors and nurses would have treated Jessica well?

I'm quite sure some of them had compassion ---it's not like they found Jessica lying on a cement floor ---she was in a bed and receiving some level of medical care. I think there was a question about her leg being amputated ---but that often is done when bones are too smashed or to keep an infection from spreading.

25 posted on 05/04/2003 8:03:43 AM PDT by FITZ
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To: OK; All
"Until such time as she wants to talk — and that's going to be no time soon, and it may be never at all — the press is simply going to have to wait."

Everyone will have to wait and speculation will do no good.

I'm a bit closer to this entire situation because the 507th is my son-in-law's unit. He did not deploy due to medical reasons. Those who were lost and all that made it home, were/are his friends and comrades. I also know the CSM who had the sad duty of calling the roll, which went unanswered, at the memorial service for those who did not make it home.

Additionaly, I had the great honor and pleasure of spending a few hours with one of the POW's, in the relaxed atmosphere of a cookout, in my son-in-law's backyard. Sgt. Jim Riley is a fine young man who told me point blank that all involved are under orders not to speak about what happened over there, until such time that all investigations are complete.

Eventually, the truth will come out. Until that time, everything is nothing but rumor and speculation.

Regards to all

26 posted on 05/04/2003 8:19:42 AM PDT by Tinman
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To: jlogajan
'I believe the only report of mistreatment was the laywer who saw a fedayeen slap her.'

In fact some other doctors at the hospital told CNN April 20th that the Fedayeen would beat Pfc Lynch and tried to prevent the doctors from seeing her more than twice a day-
http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/04/20/sprj.irq.lynch.hospital/index.html
They also imply that the Fedayeen were trying to starve her, but they smuggled food in to her.
Take your pick how much of each version you believe...the more I read the more confused I get. Obviously a lot of CYA going on by everybody.
I think someone from Walter Reed and/or the Lynch family should issue a statement about the Iraqi doctors, no need for medical details, just say "we are satisfied that the doctors treated Pfc Lynch correctly and to the best of their ability" assuming that is the case. That would clear up a lot of this speculation.
I have seen an article on http://www.herald-dispatch.com where a Lynch cousin says that Mr Lynch has told her that the doctors and nurses in Iraq were very good to Jessica.
27 posted on 05/04/2003 8:56:06 AM PDT by postal_andy
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To: jlogajan
"Give it a rest"? Nope. This is my country too and if it's military is setting itself up for a BEATING I'm going to say so and not stop just because someone's tired of hearing it. Sorry genius.
28 posted on 05/04/2003 9:08:46 AM PDT by TalBlack
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To: OK
The 3 organized groups, the Iraqi soldiers the Fedayeen and the hospital workers probably cover the full spectrum of humanity. All of them tramped through that building. I see no reason not to pour on the assistance to the medical personnel there trying to do good works. As for the Fedayeen, bullets are too good for them.
29 posted on 05/04/2003 9:35:10 AM PDT by Ranger
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To: JZoback
<<< That's true, but the war was just about over when that happened. >>>

Well, "just about over" in a one month war is a relative term :-), the U.S. forces were already at the door step of the town - close enough for the good lawyer to walk to and forth to help the U.S. forces setup the rescue effort.

There are obviously a lot of confusion and details that hasn't been made public - yet (you would think we would KNOW whether she was or wasn't shot after we have already rescued her, yet even that piece of data changed several times in the reporting following her rescue). I think there is likely room for all parties to be "right" about their particular side of the event:

The lawyer who saw the beating and the presence of Iraqi military at the hospital and walked the (what was it? 12 miles? 16 miles?) distance, round trip, twice, to get in touch with the U.S. military and set the rescue effort in motion.

But how long would it take someone to walk 12 to 16 miles in a deser combat zone? A good half day or more? Were there other time lags between the alwyer's last visit to the hosptial and when he started off to get in contact with the U.S. forces the second time? It's possible that by the time the U.S. forces got the lawyer's "latest" information, draw up the plan for the rescue, and actually carried out the rescue, things at the hosptial could have changed quite a bit - the Iraqi military and Fedayeens having abandoned the place in the face of advancing U.S. forces, the doctors and nurses left on their own may have even actually tried to return pfc Lynch on their own.

At the same time, the U.S. military has no "real time" knowledge of what, if anything, has changed at the hospital, so they go in with full might of the force they can bring to bear to neuturalize the hospital and rescue the POW.

So, it's possible that everybody was right.

30 posted on 05/04/2003 12:09:53 PM PDT by Republican Party Reptile
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To: TalBlack
TalBlack
Since Mar 26, 2003
31 posted on 05/04/2003 12:12:12 PM PDT by El Gato
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To: OK
It is also curious that shortly after this story appears, the news this morning is that Jessica has amnesia and doesn't remember anything from the point the convoy was attacked.
32 posted on 05/04/2003 12:19:36 PM PDT by Wolfstar (If we don't re-elect this truly great President, we're NUTS!)
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To: TalBlack
What a refreshing rely yours was! Thank you for cutting to the heart of the problem.
33 posted on 05/04/2003 12:23:53 PM PDT by agrandis (What kind of nation sends its women into combat?)
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To: Tinman
Eventually, the truth will come out.

But probably not until Judgement Day.

34 posted on 05/04/2003 12:26:23 PM PDT by agrandis (What kind of nation sends its women into combat?)
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To: Criminal Number 18F
Another reason for the cameramen is that war crimes are suspected and they were there to gather evidence.
Similarly the bed was "trashed" when samples were taken for forensic examination. (One of the earlier reports quoting this doctor makes this clear.)
35 posted on 05/05/2003 2:52:26 AM PDT by postal_andy
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