Triumph of the Willing Suspension of Disbelief

A couple of weeks ago, I linked to a story in the New York Times which made it clear that the tale we’d been told about Jessica Lynch was not what you might technically refer to as the truth, or anything close to it — noting, among other things, that Iraqi doctors had actually tried to return her to the Americans two days prior:

Sensing the end was near, the doctors devised a plan. They hired a driver to sneak Private Lynch in an ambulance to an American checkpoint. But when the driver drew near to the American troops, they stopped his car and turned it around before the driver had a chance to speak.

The Guardian has now picked up on the story, and adds some interesting details about the made-for-tv rescue — such as the fact that American rescuers were firing blanks:

“It was like a Hollywood film. They cried, ‘Go, go, go’, with guns and blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show – an action movie like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan, with jumping and shouting, breaking down doors.” All the time with the camera rolling. The Americans took no chances, restraining doctors and a patient who was handcuffed to a bed frame.

There was one more twist. Two days before the snatch squad arrived, Al-Houssona had arranged to deliver Jessica to the Americans in an ambulance. “I told her I will try and help you escape to the American Army but I will do this very secretly because I could lose my life.” He put her in an ambulance and instructed the driver to go to the American checkpoint. When he was approaching it, the Americans opened fire. They fled just in time back to the hospital. The Americans had almost killed their prize catch.

On a related note, the NY Times has a piece this morning on the Bushies’ mastery of stagecraft:

On Tuesday, at a speech promoting his economic plan in Indianapolis, White House aides went so far as to ask people in the crowd behind Mr. Bush to take off their ties, WISH-TV in Indianapolis reported, so they would look more like the ordinary folk the president said would benefit from his tax cut.

And Steve Perry ties it all together here. And while you’re there, don’t miss Steve’s thoughts on the oddly downplayed Riyadh bombings here:

Consider: In the midst of a supposed war on terror, we experience the largest terrorist strike against US interests since 9/11, and to the American broadcast news apparatus that has marketed the war on terror since day one, it’s just another story in the daily cycle. What gives?

The answer is simple and baldfaced. More than ever the TV networks take their cues from the White House, and the Bush administration does not want to foreground the Saudi bombings. They raise too many pertinent and discomfiting questions: about the nature of our alliance with the corrupt and crumbling House of Saud, and therefore about our real goals in the region; about our friends the Sauds’ effort to keep the wolves at bay by paying large sums of protection money to terrorist elements; about brewing popular revolt against pro-US governments in key countries such as SA, Egypt, and Pakistan.