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Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Iraq Notebook
Drama surrounding story 'disturbed' Lynch


KATHY WILLENS / AP
Pfc. Jessica Lynch said dramatic reports of her capture and rescue in Iraq disturbed her. "I knew that it wasn't the truth," she said.
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NEW YORK — Pfc. Jessica Lynch said yesterday she is disturbed that the military seemed to overdramatize her rescue by U.S. troops and spread false stories that she went down shooting in an Iraqi ambush.

"That wasn't me. I wasn't about to take credit for something I didn't do," she told The Associated Press. "I'm not that person."

The 20-year-old former Army supply clerk — twig-thin and weary, one crutch close at hand — described her ordeal in a Veterans Day interview seven months after the rescue made her a national hero.

Reports circulated by the U.S. military early in the war said Lynch waged a fierce gunbattle with Iraqi fighters who ambushed her 507th Maintenance Company on March 23 at Nasiriyah. She has since said her rifle jammed, and she did not get off a shot.

And Lynch's new book points out that, despite the "tension and drama" of the military videotape showing gun-toting U.S. soldiers rushing into an Iraqi hospital to rescue her, the hospital staff never resisted, and even offered the troops a key.

"It disturbed me," Lynch said. "I knew that it wasn't the truth."

Lynch said she tries to avoid news coverage of the fighting in Iraq because her memories are too painful. She said the almost-daily reports of U.S. troop deaths deeply sadden her.

She would not discuss claims yesterday by Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt that he bought nude photos of Lynch last month and intended to run them, but changed his mind because she is a "good kid."

Flynt said he got the photos from male soldiers who posed with Lynch.

Poll of Baghdad residents finds skepticism of U.S.

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WASHINGTON — More than half of Baghdad's residents said they did not believe the United States would allow the Iraqi people to fashion their political future without the direct influence of Washington, according to a Gallup poll.

Only 5 percent of those polled said they believed the United States invaded Iraq "to assist the Iraqi people," and only 1 percent believed it was to establish democracy there.

The poll, funded by Gallup, was conducted through face-to-face interviews with 1,178 Baghdad residents between Aug. 28 and Sept. 4. The initial results were announced in late September, but additional analyses were released to the polling firm's clients in succeeding weeks.

Although 52 percent of those polled said they thought the United States was serious about establishing a democratic system of government in Iraq, 51 percent said the U.S. would not allow Iraqis to do that without U.S. pressure and influence. The margin of error in the poll was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

Forty-three percent of the respondents said they believed that U.S. and British forces invaded in March primarily "to rob Iraq's oil." While 37 percent believed the United States acted to get rid of the Saddam regime, only 5 percent thought it was done "to assist the Iraq people," the poll found.

An additional 6 percent believed the motive was to "change the Middle East 'map' as the U.S. and Israel want."

Almost everyone interviewed — 94 percent — said Baghdad "now is a more dangerous place than before the invasion."

Blair asks Britons to give him and Bush a chance

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair, facing a wave of protest over President Bush's planned state visit here next week, yesterday pleaded with the British public to give Bush — and himself — a chance to explain anew their policies about Iraq and terrorism.

"What I say to them is, just listen to the argument," said Blair in an interview with six American news organizations. "Try not to believe that myself or President Bush are sort of badly motivated people who want to do the worst, just try and look at it from the perspective that we are talking on."

Blair acknowledged a new Times of London poll showing 60 percent of Britons surveyed disapprove of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq and half believe the strong personal relationship between Bush and Blair is bad for Britain.

Some critics charged that Bush will not be able to hear their protests during his three-day visit, saying police have acceded to a White House request to establish what they called "an exclusionary zone" in central London in which demonstrations would not be allowed.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard, the metropolitan police force, said officials were considering invoking a law banning protest in the area around Parliament when the institution is in session.

Commanders: No proof of al-Qaida presence in Iraq

BAGHDAD — U.S. forces have detained up to 20 suspected members of al-Qaida since they moved into Iraq but have found no proof that they belong to Osama bin Laden's network, the senior U.S. commander in the country said yesterday.

"At one point we had up to 20 suspected al-Qaida members," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told a news conference in Baghdad. "But as we have continued to refine and interrogate, we have not been able to establish definitively that they were al-Qaida members."

Sanchez did not say where they were held, when they were detained or whether any of them have been released.

U.S. officials have said they suspect foreign volunteers, including some from al-Qaida, have slipped across the borders into Iraq to take part in a "holy war" against the U.S.-led occupation. However, a number of U.S. commanders have said they were uncertain about the numbers of foreign fighters and their role in the insurgency.

One of Black Hawk fatalities was former Fort Lewis soldier

TACOMA — A former chief of enlisted soldiers in the Judge Advocate General Corps at Fort Lewis has been identified as one of the six soldiers who died when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq.

Command Sgt. Maj. Cornell W. Gilmore, 45, who recently transferred from the Army post near Tacoma to the Pentagon, was on the list of victims released by the Defense Department on Monday, three days after the attack near Tikrit.

At the time of his death, Gilmore, a native of Baltimore, was sergeant major of the JAG Corps and chief adviser to the judge advocate general for enlisted issues.

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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