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
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
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."
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]