Pentagon lied over ambush, reveals army 'heroine'
  a.. Tim Reid, Washington 
  b.. April 26, 2007 
JESSICA Lynch, the US Army private who became the heroic American face of the 
Iraq war when her convoy was ambushed after the invasion, has lambasted the 
Bush administration for lying about her ordeal.
Testifying to Congress yesterday - along with the brother of Pat Tillman, the 
US Army Ranger who gave up a lucrative career as an American football star only 
to be killed by his own platoon in Afghanistan - the two condemned the 
Pentagon's "deceit" in turning their disastrous experiences into false tales of 
Ms Lynch was badly injured when her convoy was ambushed in Iraq on March 23, 
2003, the third day of the war. The Pentagon initially said she was shot after 
emerging from her vehicle, guns blazing, before being abducted. But it later 
emerged she was injured in the ambush and was taken to an Iraqi hospital by 
Iraqi troops, and owes her life to Iraqi doctors, who even tried to return her 
to the US forces. 

Speaking to the House oversight and government reform committee, Ms Lynch told 
of waking up in hospital with terrible injuries, unaware that the Pentagon was 
circulating to the world "the story of the little girl Rambo from the hills of 
West Virginia who went down fighting". 

"It was not true," she said. "I'm still confused as to why they choose to lie 
and try to make me a legend. The bottom line is the American people are capable 
of determining their own ideals for heroes, and they don't need to be told 
elaborate lies." 

Kevin Tillman, in angry and emotional testimony, accused US army officials of 
destroying his brother's uniform, equipment and notebook, falsifying witness 
statements and rewriting the field hospital report to concoct an 
"inspirational" story that his brother had died leading a charge against enemy 
fighters in Afghanistan. For five weeks after his brother's death the Pentagon 
and the White House told that story, Mr Tillman said, including at his memorial 

In fact, his brother's death came shortly after the rebellions in the Iraqi 
town of Najaf and Fallujah, the call-up of more troops for the war, and with 
White House knowledge that the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal was about to 

"Revealing that Pat's death was fratricide (friendly fire) would have been yet 
another political disaster ... so the facts needed to be suppressed," Mr 
Tillman said. 

In addition to destroying and falsifying evidence, the Pentagon suppressed the 
findings of the investigation that reported his brother was killed by friendly 
fire, he said. His mother, Mary Tillman, accused former US defence secretary 
Donald Rumsfeld of being complicit. "These are intentional falsehoods that meet 
the legal definition of fraud," Mr Tillman said. 

The Pentagon has said there was no cover-up, merely "errors of judgment which 
created the perception of concealment". 

Mr Tillman said: "These are deliberate acts of deceit. This narrative was 
intended to deceive the family, but more importantly to deceive the American 

"We have concluded that our efforts are being thwarted by powers that are more 
interested in protecting a narrative than getting at the truth." 

Henry Waxman, the Democratic chairman of the panel, said: "For Jessica Lynch 
and Pat Tillman, the Government violated its most basic responsibility." 

The Times

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