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Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly reporting from Los Angeles.  Thanks for watching us tonight.  Did the Pentagon fake the Jessica Lynch story?  That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo

On April 1, Army Private Jessica Lynch was rescued by U.S. Special Forces from an Iraqi hospital.  The Pentagon used a video to illustrate the dramatic operation, and millions of us sat riveted watching the rescue of this POW.  But a few weeks later, the BBC and The Toronto Star newspaper reported that the rescue was bogus.  And Los Angeles Times columnist, Robert Scheer, said, "Where the manipulation of this saga really gets ugly is in the premeditated manufacture of the reduce itself."

The far left Scheer accused the Pentagon of staging the entire operation.  The Military in turn called Scheer a liar, and Talking Points criticized him for buying propaganda without doing original reporting. 

Enter the Associated Press.  It is now reporting the following, that Iraqi doctors and nurses wanted to turn over Private Lynch to the Americans but quote, "made no attempt to notify U.S. troops of that effort", that Iraqi troops had left the hospital shortly before U.S. commandos arrived, that Private Lynch was not wounded by gunfire during her original capture.

Talking Points believes all of that is true.  The Pentagon continues to say it did not know Iraqi soldiers had fled the hospital and insists that U.S. forces were fired upon outside the medical compound.  Testimony from U.S. soldiers involved in the rescue seems to verify that.  The Pentagon also denies staging anything and says the operation was planned with the expectation of resistance. Talking Points believes that assertion. 

But, of course, radicals like Robert Scheer will never believe anything the Bush administration says, and Scheer writes quote, "If the movies, books, and other renditions of 'Saving Private Lynch' were to be honestly presented, it would expose this caper as merely one is a series of egregious lies marketed to us by the Bush administration."

Now, I will let you decide about Robert Scheer, but there's no question that the Pentagon made some mistakes here.  One, it hyped the rescue of Private Lynch when it was a rather routine operation.  Two, the Pentagon refuses to allow military witnesses to tell us exactly what happened, thereby giving critics like Scheer ammunition.  Three, some military people did tell the press Private Lynch was shot in a fire fight.  That did not happen.  But on April 4, a U.S. military doctor said it didn't happen.  So any cover-up accusation is pure garbage. 

Talking Points would really like to know when the military and Bush administration are going to wise up and stop with all of the secrecy nonsense?  If mistakes were made, tell the folks.  Most Americans are not fanatics like Scheer.  Mistakes always happen, but by refusing to outline exactly what went down in the Lynch rescue months after it happened, the military allows the crazy conspiracy people to run wild, and this hurts the USA because millions of people believe that stuff, especially overseas.  The BBC couldn't be happier with the U.S. military running away from the story. 

Summing up, I believe this Talking Points Memo is 100 percent accurate.  The military thought things might get hot.  They rescued Private Lynch.  They did their job.  It's the aftermath that should have been handled differently. 

And that's The Memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"...

One of the reasons I am here in L.A. is that we are doing The Radio Factor live from the Redondo Beach Civic Center tomorrow morning at 9:00 West Coast time, and you can see it free.

Now many would say it would be ridiculous if we charged anything, and I agree with that.  So it's free.  If you're around Redondo Beach tomorrow, stop by and see me.

--You can watch Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points Memo and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 & 11p.m. ET on the Fox News Channel. Send your comments to: oreilly@foxnews.com