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Posted at 1:08 PM ET, 10/12/2010

Norgrove raid misguided chivalry, former hostage says

By Jeff Stein

Anyone who’s read former CBS journalist Jere Van Dyk’s account of his captivity in Pakistan’s tribal region in 2008 could be excused for thinking an armed rescue is virtually impossible.

And so thinks Van Dyk himself, reflecting on the case of Linda Norgrove, the British aid worker killed during a rescue attempt by U.S. special operations troops Friday night, Oct. 8.

Van Dyk thinks the rescue was reckless, perhaps undertaken out of a misguided sense of chivalry.

“I've been following the Linda Norgrove case as closely as I could, every day wondering about her, thinking of her, imagining her, a woman, alone, knowing that she was taken in Kunar, a rough place, but I always felt she would survive,” Van Dyk told SpyTalk over the weekend.

An armed rescue mission in that area is “well nigh impossible,” he said.

“The villages and valleys are completely silent at night. The quietest helicopter would make a lot of noise. All villages have dogs everywhere and they bark.”

“It is easy for me to say, and highly inflammatory, but my feeling is that they would have never harmed her, never violated her," he said of Norgrove. "Other women in the village would have probably known that she was there. They had to cook for her, lead her to a toilet..."

“So why did they go in for Linda Norgrove?” he asks. “Was it because she was a woman and they were afraid that she was being be raped every day, or did they get word that they were going to kill her, or move her across the border? I don't know, but I am sick to my stomach…”

“I think it was male pride,” Van Dyk said, “wanting to protect and to save a woman in distress that drove the military to act. This is very honorable, but wrong.”

Van Dyk, who had traveled from Afghanistan into the lawless tribal region of Pakistan to report on the Taliban at war, was held in a dark room for 45 days, rarely allowed outside and only at night. The conditions were harsh, but he was neither beaten nor tortured. CBS eventually arranged for his release, but he does not know the details of how that was done.

A joint U.S.-British inquiry will examine whether Norgrove was killed during the raid by the Taliban, as authorities first reported, or a grenade dropped by one of the commandos.

In February 2008, Cyd Mizell, a Baptist aid worker who was teaching Afghan women how to turn their sewing into income, was killed after a month in captivity. A Canadian convert to Islam, Beverley Anne Giesbrecht, has not been seen since she went missing on the Afghan-Pakistan border in November 2008.

By Jeff Stein  | October 12, 2010; 1:08 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Military  
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Mr. Stein, this post falls short of Washington Post journalistic standards. You merely give a broader audience to the feelings and speculation of a person who concedes he has no information about the subject. In between discussion of his feelings, he says he does not know why the rescue attempt was undertaken.

Posted by: MatterLaw | October 12, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I like how the last paragraph of this article completely invalidates everything Van Dyk just said above it. Also Van Dyk is naive to think that all hostage takers are the same, think the same, and operate the same.

Posted by: Bryansix | October 13, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

We make the assumption that all this is rational. If you ask the USN Seal Team that did the raid why they went in (as a friend of mine did), the answer was that Gen. Petreus ordered then from the gitgo to do a kinetic operation. The point was to kill hostage takers, and the fate of the hostage was entirely secondary. This has been USG policy for 40 years now -- no surprise. The fact that the so-called rescuers were the ones who killed the hostage is a shame (and an embarrassment), but the kidnappers were killed, making the operation a success. These are simply the facts of life in a war zone.

Posted by: DCNative41 | October 13, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

If she isn't rescued, she is a hostage. As a hostage, attempts might have been made to use her as a bargaining tool. Taliban terrorists that are imprisoned must not be released to commit further acts of terrorism, but their release might be requested by hostage-takers. Our refusal to comply with such an impossible demand might make it look to some people as though we are insensitive or uncaring. The enemy must be denied the ability to conduct this kind of propaganda.

So we can't wait for the hostage-takers to give up and release their hostages as an act of goodwill. If they weren't evil men, they wouldn't take hostages in the first place.

Posted by: quadibloc | October 13, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Is Mr Van Dyk suffering from the Stockholm syndrome?

Posted by: DarthVader | October 14, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Van Dyk's experience is obviously irrelevant here and he sounds like a sniveling left wing liberal. Other accounts reveal they were debating whether to kill her or send here to a remote site in another country where she would never be heard from again. Not only would this rescue have succeeded had a stun grenade been used rather than a fragmentation grenade, the other reason for rescuing hostages which liberal wennies forget, is to punish the kidnapers to protect future potential victims.

Posted by: mika12375 | October 14, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

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