March, 2005

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NEW! "A Morning with Polly"
NEW! "Flip Side"
NEW! "Lost"
NEW! "Babar"
UPDATED: Reporters' Sources: April 12, 2003
UPDATED: Reporters' Sources: April 13, 2003
UPDATED: Reporters' Sources: April 14, 2003

This month's issue focuses on the reporting of the looting of the Iraq National Museum that occurred on April 10 and 11, 2003. The majority of news articles that appeared in the days after the discovery of the break-in of the museum were often flawed and it would be months before a more accurate accounting took place. Here we take a closer look at the story itself and the questions it raises about the media's reliability and credibilty in today's information marketplace.

Our feature article for this quarter is Iraq Antiquities Revisited, a magazine-style piece that offers the reader all the necessary background information to be able to follow the other essays, articles, and files. If you prefer the article with references, then try Iraq Antiquities Revisited (with Endnotes).

If you want a quick review of the major events, use the Chronology file.

Basic Research and Composition is a very brief account of the behind-the-scenes work behind this issue's featured article, "Iraq Antiquities Revisited."

In Reporters' Sources I analyze a handful of articles for the sources that were used.

One can find interesting debates about the media today in the blogosphere. Rose and Schuster is just one example.

New articles and essays will be added over the next three months.

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Iraq Antiquities Revisited

Jeffrey Schuster

On Saturday, April 12, 2003, three days after the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square in Baghdad had been pulled down to cheering Iraqis, the story of the looting of the Iraq National Museum began to appear both in print and on broadcast news outlets around the world. Over Saturday and Sunday and continuing into the next week it would be the dominant news story coming out of Iraq.

That Saturday, in his lead paragraph for the Associated Press, Hamza Hendawi wrote that the Iraq National Museum had been emptied and all that remained was broken pottery and shattered display cases. The BBC News online world edition reported that looters had removed thousands of pieces from the museum. And John F. Burns, writing for the New York Times, claimed that the museum had been looted over a period of 48 hours and that they had taken away “at least 50,000” artifacts. Later that evening Burns would rewrite his lead. Instead of 50,000 artifacts being carried away by looters, he inserted, “with at least 170,000 artifacts carried away by looters.”

By the end of the day on Saturday, April 12, then, the major outlines of the story had been set by the journalists in Baghdad. According to the officials who had been located and interviewed on the museum grounds, most if not all of the collection had been removed by looting Iraqis. Again, according to a handful of Iraqis on the grounds, the American forces, who could have prevented this catastrophe, did nothing. Writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, Paul McGeough, who linked the museum story to his wider anti-war stance, did not hesitate to cast the first stone. “After witnessing three weeks of attacks on Baghdad and almost a week of looting - especially of the Iraq National Museum,” he writes, “questions about where the criminality lies become blurred.”

The story that emerged on Saturday and Sunday was that the Americans had carelessly looked on as Iraqis looted and ransacked and destroyed and pillaged their and our cultural heritage. In the heat of the press mania, no analogy was too extreme: Mongols. Vandals. Barbarians. These terms were not applied, however, to the Iraqis who actually entered the museum and looted it. In a peculiar transformation possible only by an international press that was already disposed to distrust the American government, these epithets were directed at the American military in particular and at Americans in general.

But what really happened at the museum? Over the next two months, surfacing in bits and pieces, the truth slowly emerged. First of all, the original figure for the total number of pieces in the collection given by most journalists was 170,000. This number, we later learned, was for inventory purposes. An individual inventory number could represent a single piece or several pieces together, as in a necklace or broken pottery shard. The total number of “pieces” was, in fact, around 500,000. Next, we now know that, of those 500,000 pieces, only around 10,000 were stolen. The majority of the collection had been removed before the war to secure vaults in the main bank in Baghdad or had been hidden and secured inside the museum itself. A sizeable portion of the collection, in fact, had been removed prior to the war by a group of five concerned employees of the museum who had made a pact not to reveal the secret locations of the items. Later, Col. Matthew Bogdanos, the US Marine officer in charge of the team of investigators that arrived on April 20 and begin work on April 22, would earn the trust of this group and was then allowed to check on the safety of the items.

The story of the alleged looting of the entire collection of the Iraqi National Museum is far different from the original versions presented by the foreign correspondents. The story begins on Tuesday morning, April 8, when three Iraqi museum officials, who had been preparing to live in the museum for the duration, suddenly noticed that Fedayeen Saddam were jumping into the large bunkers that had been cut into the yard in front of the museum and firing upon Americans troops entering the neighborhood. Donny George would later say that he then knew right then that it would be too dangerous for them to stay in the museum.

“Our heritage is finished”

Back on the morning of Tuesday, April 8, 2003, one day before the statue of Saddam Hussein came down, Donny George, research director of the State Board of Antiquities, Jaber Khalil, chair of the same organization, and Nawala al-Mutawalli, the museum director, decided that, for reasons of personal safety, it was no longer possible to stay inside the Iraq National Museum. Before the war began, three large bunkers had been cut into the lawn in front of the museum and reinforced with sandbags and sheets of corrugated metal. Earlier that morning the sounds of explosions had grown closer and Iraqi military and Fedayeen jumped into the bunkers on the grounds of the museum and began firing upon the American troops entering the neighborhood. At this point, after consulting with his colleagues, Donny George locked the front doors and the back doors to the main museum building and then the three of them climbed into a waiting car and drove away, leaving behind one man who actually lived on the premises.

The next day, Wednesday, April 9, Mohammed Al-Sahaf, the Iraqi Minister of Information and familiarly known as Baghdad Bob, failed to show up for work, a clear signal that the Ba’athist regime was starting to crumble. Later in the afternoon, people all around the world watched in stunned disbelief as Iraqis cheered and clapped as the American soldiers used a tank to pull down the statue of Saddam Hussein.

On Thursday, April 10, Iraqis entered the museum, first going through the administrative offices and grabbing anything they could and destroying what they didn’t want to carry off. Donny George would later note that his office chair had been broken and dragged across the room. Files had been emptied. Anything of value in the administrative offices, like computers and air conditioners, was removed by the looters.

The next day Raid Abdul Ridha Mohammed, an archaeologist connected to the museum, returned but was unable to stop the looters. He then went in search of American forces, found five US soldiers who had entered the neighborhood, and brought them over to the museum. The soldiers fired over the heads of the looters and dispersed them. But then the soldiers told Mohammed that they had no orders to guard the museum. They were still fighting Iraqi military and Fedayeen in several pockets around the city.

On Friday the first stories started to appear about looting going on at the museum and by Saturday, April 12, the grounds of the Iraq National Museum were a magnet for the journalists who had stayed in Baghdad through the war and for the embedded journalists who had accompanied the American forces during the three-week campaign. Several Iraqis on the grounds who claimed to be employees or connected to the museum were quickly located and interviewed by the press group and many of the reports written that day featured Nabhal Amin, a woman who identified herself as a deputy director of the museum, Muhsen Kadhim, a security guard, and Raid Abdul Ridhar Muhammad.

The reporters on the scene identified these three variously, sometimes giving individual attribution, but other times referring to them simply as “museum officials.” John F. Burns, for example, in one of the starkest sentences in his initial article, writes, “Nothing remained, museum officials said, at least nothing of real value, from a museum that had been regarded by archaeologists and other specialists as perhaps the richest of all such institutions in the Middle East.”

On Saturday, April 12, to Reuters correspondent Hassan Hafidh, Nabhal Amin said, "They have looted or destroyed 170,000 items of antiquity dating back thousands of years...They were worth billions of dollars." The Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran also used Ms. Amin as a source:
"Our heritage is finished," lamented Nabhal Amin, the museum's deputy director, as she surveyed a Sumerian tablet that had been cracked in two. "Why did they do this? Why? Why?"
On Sunday, April 13, the Telegraph reported:
Surveying the smashed display cases at the museum last night, Nabhal Amin, the deputy director, struggled to hold back the tears. "They have looted or destroyed 170,000 items of antiquity dating back thousands of years," she said. "They were worth billions of dollars."
Reacting to these initial reports, archeologists and academics assumed the worst about the American military and voiced their outrage, spearheaded by the self-titled “weeping archeologist,” John Russell, a source for numerous news articles about the alleged looting of the museum.

Various academics spoke up at once without waiting for a critical investigation. Already on Monday, April 14, over at the History News Network website, Said Arjomand, a professor of sociology and the State University of New York, wrote that “the sack of the Iraq Museum under American occupation is unprecedented in recent history” and declared that the American forces were worse than the Nazis and the Mongols. “No one thought such an act of violence against humanity would occur after the occupation of Baghdad and under the eyes of our troops.”

Writing that same day on the same website, Piotr Michalowski, professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, joined Mr. Arjomand. “The pillaging of the Baghdad Museum is a tragedy that has no parallel in world history,” he wrote.

Meanwhile at an April 15 news conference, Donald Rumsfeld, when asked about the alleged looting of the museum, presciently replied, “I would suspect that over time we’ll find that a number of things were in fact hidden prior to the conflict.”

New Facts Begin to Emerge

While most members of the international media and academia were castigating the American forces and Bush administration, Ian Fisher of the New York Times reported on Wednesday, April 16, that Donny George now felt that “Iraq’s cultural heritage might not have vanished completely.” In that interview, George also explained that some of the collection had been placed in secure vaults before the war began. And the next day, April 17, Yaroslav Trofimov from the Wall Street Journal published an article in which Donny George admitted that “most of the things were removed.” On Thursday and Friday, then, the story that had been trumpeted around the world over the previous weekend was found to have more than a few qualifications.

Inexplicably, however, these revelations were not immediately followed up by the other media outlets. Part of the problem lay with the double-talking Donny George, who continued to blame the American administration for the looting and refused to correct the erroneous stories. Also, it was later learned that five officials connected to the museum led by Muayyad Damerji, an advisor to the Minister of Culture, had removed many valuable pieces of the collection themselves and had made a secret pact not to disclose the location of these items until a stable government was back in place. Donny George, it seems, was not aware of their actions.

In May evidence that the original story was flawed began to emerge. On May 1 the New York Times ran a headline that announced: "Loss Estimates Are Cut on Iraqi Artifacts, but Questions Remain." In an interview for The Art Newspaper, Donny George admitted to Martin Bailey that probably only a small percentage of the 170,000 was missing. On May 6 Barry Meier at the New York Times reported that the curator of the British Museum, John E. Curtis, had been informed that most of the items in the museum’s display cases had been removed beforehand and that only those pieces too large or too fragile to move remained at the outset of the war.

Then, at a May 16 press briefing, Col. Bogdanos announced that the figure of 170,000 was not accurate and that the number was more in the range of a few thousands. Lourdes Navarro, reporting on that briefing for the Associated Press, signaled the change in her lead:
U.S. authorities said Friday they are scaling back the estimates of how much treasure was looted from Iraq's National Museum after discovering that museum officials have been stashing items in secret vaults for at least 13 years.
Ms. Navarro also noted that Donny George now declared that “it’s time to work together to restore what was stolen.” Many other news outlets picked up on the updated details that had come out of the press briefing by Col. Bogdanos.

On May 22, Alex Spillius at the Telegraph reported that the Iraqi museum officials, now under pressure because their previous inflated claims were turning out to be inaccurate, had now shifted the blame to the international media. "There was a mistake,” Donny George told Spillius. “Someone asked us what is the number of pieces in the whole collection. We said over 170,000, and they took that as the number lost. Reporters came in and saw empty shelves and reached the conclusion that all was gone. But before the war we evacuated all of the small pieces and emptied the show cases except for fragile or heavy material that was difficult to move." Donny George also explained that the vast majority of the collection had already been relocated before the war. Mr. George did not, however, explain why he hadn’t forcefully corrected any of those early figures during the many press conferences he had given over the previous month.

“It’s Bollocks.”

In June the story was finally torpedoed and sunk. On Saturday, June 7, the Customs Service/State Dept. released its preliminary report on the investigation.

With the information from this report in hand, the Washington Post of June 9 began:
The world was appalled. One archaeologist described the looting of Iraq's National Museum of Antiquities as "a rape of civilization." Iraqi scholars standing in the sacked galleries of the exhibit halls in April wept on camera as they stood on shards of cuneiform tablets dating back thousands of years.
However, with all the new revelations, “Apparently, it was not that bad.”

“So, there's the picture: 100,000-plus priceless items looted either under the very noses of the Yanks, or by the Yanks themselves,” writes David Aaronovitch for the Guardian. “And the only problem with it is that it's nonsense. It isn't true. It's made up. It's bollocks.”

On Nightline for June 10, Ted Koppel observed that "the truth behind this story is somewhat different.” He continues, “It turns out that almost all of the pieces are safe. They were hidden away by the museum staff for safekeeping.... They were hidden in a vault that was then flooded to protect it from looters. But the bottom line here? The museum staff apparently lied, in part to discredit the American troops."

Charles Krauthammer wondered why Donny George did not correct the exaggerated figures when he knew what the real numbers were. “Of course, George saw the story of the stolen 170,000 museum pieces go around the world and said nothing -- indeed, two weeks later, he was in London calling the looting ‘the crime of the century.’ Why? Because George and the other museum officials who wept on camera were Baath Party appointees, and the media, Western and Arab, desperate to highlight the dark side of the liberation of Iraq, bought their deceptions without an ounce of skepticism.”

Later in the month, the academics who were so quick to point their fingers at the American administration were themselves put on defense. On June 26, Piotr Michalowski writes, “Many of us reacted passionately to the news, writing editorials and letters expressing our sorrow and anger. Looking back at what I wrote at the time, I can only say that perhaps we should have realized we were dealing with preliminary reports.” Instead of offering an apology or reflecting on why people in a profession who pride themselves as being critical and skeptical made such fundamental errors of judgment, Michalowski turned around and said, “This is much less than was initially reported, but it is still a catastrophe.”

Finally, on September 10, Col. Bogdanos came out with the investigation’s final report on the condition of the antiquities from the Iraq National Museum. While the administrative offices had indeed been emptied, the majority of the items from the public galleries had been moved before the war to the Central Bank of Iraq, a bunker in Western Baghdad, and around 40,000 pieces to a secret location. All of these pieces were returned safely to the museum. Also, of the 8 storage rooms, only 5 had been entered, and of the 5, only 3 had items missing. Bogdanos concluded that this theft was conducted by professional thieves, who came away with around 10,000 small pieces, mostly cylinder seals.

As of January, 2005, the last estimate, by archeologist Francis Deblauwe, is that of the 501,000 artifacts that were once in the museum around 13,000 are still missing.

Disposed to Believe the Worst

Months later, when the truth finally surfaced and people began to ask how the reporters had made so many basic mistakes, John F. Burns would confess to Andrew Lawler that he and the other journalists were “disposed to believe the worst” and that “passion got the better of us.” John F. Burns, to his credit, was one of the few people involved in this story to admit that a mistake had been made.

John F. Burns and Paul McGeough were also simply exhausted. They had been reporting non-stop for several months with a maximum of a few hours of sleep a night and trying to function under considerable and sometimes daily threats to their lives. They also were operating in an environment where it was almost impossible to verify much of the information that they gathered.

If there were one mistake that overshadowed all the others it would have to be using Nabhal Amin as a reliable witness when, in fact, she no longer worked for the museum complex. John F. Burns, Paul McGeough, Hamza Hendawi, and Hassan Hafidh had neither the time nor resources -- or perhaps even the inclination -- to verify her claim of identity and position.

At the same time, however, there were a few journalists who were skeptical of the overheated claims being tossed about by the press. We have seen that Yaroslav Trofimov, for example, even as early as April 17, had interviewed Donny George and reported that most of the items were most likely safe. In a May 9 radio interview for WBUR’s “Here & Now,” Trofimov said that the early mistakes in reporting were mainly due to the "inability of reporters to confirm facts" because there was no functioning government at the time. And many other reporters returned to the story and reconstructed a much more accurate picture of what had occurred, among the best being Roger Atwood, Andrew Lawler, and Dan Cruickshank.

Some reporters, like McGeough, used the situation to take a cheap-shot at the US administration. Others, like Burns, were simply "disposed to believe the worst." And still others were unable or unwilling to fact-check some of the basic points of the story, the most crucial being the figure of 170,000 coming from Nabhal Amin, a former official who was not privy to all of the procedures that had been implemented over the preceding months to safeguard Iraq's antiquities. The academics, however, probably come off with the largest stain on their reputations. That members of a professional class who swear by the tenets of critical thinking and the presentation of evidence at every turn would be the first ones to accuse the US military without waiting for a proper investigation tells us a lot about the state of current political discourse in academia. There were few apologies and when they did come they were uttered through clenched teeth.

For this same article with complete endnotes, go to "Iraq Antiquities Revisited (with References)."

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The Gang's All Here!

The story of the looting of the Iraq National Museum brings together seven major groups of participants in this drama.

A. Iraqi museum officials and employees
B. Iraqi citizens / witnesses
C. Iraqi thieves and looters
D. Iraqi military and Fedayeen Saddam
E. US military / administration
F. Foreign correspondents / journalists
G. Archaeological and other academics


Ages and positions are not current; they are valid for the time of the looting of the museum. Since then, they have all (alas) grown older and many are in new positions.

A. Iraqi museum officials and employees

Donny George, “research director of the State Board of Antiquities”

Jaber Khalil / Jaber Khalil Ibrahim, “chair of the State Board of Antiquities”

Nawala al-Mutawalli, “museum director”

Raid Abdul Ridhar Muhammed, archaeologist

Muayyad Damerji, former State Board of Antiquities chief and now Minister of Culture advisor

Nabhal Amin, former employee of the museum who lived nearby

Mohsen Hassam, “56-year-old deputy curator” (Burns) / Moysen Hassan

Muhsen Kadhim, security guard

Abdul Rakhman, 57, live-in security guard / Abed El Rahman, “security guard who lives on the premises”

Ali Mahmoud, museum employee / security guard /

B. Iraqi citizens / witnesses / “man on the street”

Many newspaper accounts used Iraqi citizens for “response to the looting” quotes. Roger Atwood was one of the few who used methodical interview practices in his reconstruction of events on April 10 and 11. In the early weeks of May, he visited the streets around the museum complex and tracked down citizens who had witnessed those events. He interviewed, for example, Ibrahim Taha, who worked across the street and was present on both days.
Ibrahim Taha and his colleague were guarding the office of the bus company where they worked when they saw people rushing into the museum, a few doors down. Mr. Taha followed them in and came to a small concrete building at the back of the museum, where he saw something that surprised him: weapons. Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were propped against the wall, more guns were hanging from hooks, and there were boxes of ammunition on the floor. The Iraqi fighters who had brought this arsenal had fled, and looters were busily helping themselves to the weapons.

"I didn't take one, because I already had a Kalashnikov," said Mr. Taha, a compact, solidly built man. Speaking through an interpreter, he told me that a few yards from the weapons cache was a smashed window in the back wall of the museum's main building, through which looters had entered. Mr. Taha saw looters rushing out of the building, some holding clay pots and heavy boxes.

"I heard people saying to them, 'Stop, you are destroying our heritage, you are stealing what belongs to the Iraqi people.' But no one listened to them. You would have had to shoot them to stop them," said Mr. Taha.


C. Iraqi looters and thieves

Col. Bogdanos, in his final report, divided the people who entered the museum during that two-day period in random looters, who removed computers and air conditioners from the administrative offices and then a group of thieves who had both keys and inside knowledge of the layout of the entire museum complex, even the secret storage room in the basement.

D. Iraqi military and Fedayeen Saddam

There is little doubt that the Iraq National Museum was used by both the regular Iraqi soldiers and by the Fedayeen Saddam militia as a fortified position from which to fire upon US forces. Both Iraqi citizens and US forces witnessed fire coming from the museum complex. There were three covered bunkers in the front lawn and at least one sniper nest inside the building.

E. US military

Capt. Jason Conroy, US Army, 3rd Infantry Division, also the soldier who blew up the statue of Saddam Hussein at the reviewing grounds with crossed sabres in central Baghdad.

Sgt. 1st Class David Richard

U.S. Army Col. Rick Thomas

Lt. Gen. William Scott Wallace

Lt. Erik Balascik

Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz. David Zucchino reports that Schwartz, when told by Perkins that they would be going into Baghdad on a thunder run, responded, “Are you fucking crazy?”

US Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos

Two profiles on Bogdanos:

Profile 1

Profile 2

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

F. Foreign Correspondents / Journalists

Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press

John F. Burns, New York Times

Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald

Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal

David Aaronovitch, Guardian

Roger Atwood

Andrew Lawler, Science

Martin Bailey, Art Newspaper (?)


G. Archaeological and Other Academics

John Malcolm Russell, Critical Studies Dept., Mass. College of Art, Boston, MA

McGuire Gibson, University of Chicago

John Curtis, archaeologist for the British Museum

Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Elizabeth Stone, archaeologist at SUNY Stony Brook

Pietr Michalowski

Eleanor Robson, fellow, All Souls, Oxford, British School of Archeology in Iraq

Koichiro Matsuura, director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Chronology

End of February, 2003. Iraq’s Minister of Culture appoints one of his advisors, Muayyad Damerji, to remove many of the most valuable antiquities to a secret location. Damerji, Jaber Khalil, Al-Mutawalli, and two others spend the next 7 to 10 days moving thousands of items to an air-raid shelter than had been built in 1991. They make a pact not to disclose the location until a new government in is place. They will eventually reveal the location to Col. Bogdanos on July 6, 2003.

Mid-March, 2003. A week or so before the war begins three bunkers are dug into the front grounds of the Iraq National Museum, covered with corrugated metal sheets, and sandbagged.

Tuesday, April 8, 2003. When Iraqi soldiers and Fedayeen begin firing on US forces from positions inside the museum grounds, Donny George, Jaber Khalil, and perhaps Nawala Al-Mutawilli lock the doors and leave, leaving behind only Mohsen Hassan, who lives behind the museum.

Wednesday, April 9, 2003. Fighting continues. Statue of Saddam comes down in Firdos Square.

Thursday, April 10 - Friday, April 11, 2003. Looters are seen entering and exiting the museum grounds.

Saturday, April 12, 2003. The foreign correspondents arrive at the Iraq National Museum. Nabhal Amin announces that the museum has been entirely looted and that 170,000 have been stolen while Americans stood by and did nothing.

April 16, 2003. The US military secures the Iraq National Museum.

April 22, 2003. US Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos begins efforts to locate missing antiquities and discover what happened on April 10 and April 11.

April 29, 2003. Donny George gives a talk at the British Museum

May 16, 2003. Col. Bogdanos gives a press briefing in which he refutes the original claim of 170,000 items missing.

June 7, 2003. The Customs Office / State Department Preliminary report is released.

June 8, 2003. Dan Cruickshank’s “Raiders of the Lost Art” on BBC2 highlights the numerous problems around the original looting story.

June 10, 2003. David Aaronovitch at the Guardian speaks for many when he summarizes, “It’s bollocks.”

September 10, 2003. Col. Bogdanos gives his final press briefing and releases his report, “Iraq Museum Investigation: 22APR – 8SEP03.”

Press Briefing

Final Report

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Reporters' Sources: April 12, 2003

When I teach newspaper articles to my ESL students, one of the first requests I make of them is to identify anyone to whom the reporter has talked. For reporters, primary sources are more often than not the people they have interviewed.

Saturday, April 12, 2003.

Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press, Saturday, April 12, 2003.
Hassan Hafidh, Reuters, Saturday, April 12, 2003.
John F. Burns, “Pillagers Strip Iraqi Museum of Its Treasure,” New York Times, Saturday, April 12, 2003
Paul McGeough, “A Cultural Catastrophe,” Sydney Morning Herald, April 12, 2003.
Maura Fogarty, "Baghdad Looting Continues," Voice of America News (audio), April 12, 2003.

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Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press, Saturday, April 12, 2003.

Article.

This was one of the first articles to come out on Saturday, April 12, 2003, and it is interesting to note that Nabhal Amin declines to identify herself to Hamza Hendawi. Later on in the day she will be quoted and cited by all the others, but in this article she is an anonymous source.

Hendawi, we assume, speaks Arabic and doesn’t have to work with an interpreter, which must make reporting much easier. He is one of the few reporters to interview someone who claims to be a member of the Fedayeen Saddam.

Sources:

1. Ali Mahmoud
2. anonymous security guards and museum workers
3. Nabhal Amin
4. member of Fedayeen Saddam
5. Gordon Newby
6. John Russell
7. Samuel Paley
8. Koichiro Matsuura
9. governments of Russia, Jordan and Greece
10 "some"
11. McGuire Gibson
12. Patty Gerstenblith

Reported by Hendawi in Baghdad:

1. Ali Mahmoud, a museum employee
2. “according to a security guard” / “museum workers said” / “one museum employee” / “said the employee, who declined to be identified”
3. Nabhal Amin
“A museum employee, reduced to tears after coming to the museum Saturday and finding her office and all administrative offices trashed by looters, said: ``It is all the fault of the Americans. This is Iraq's civilization. And it's all gone now.'' She refused to give her name.”

4. member of Fedayeen Saddam
“One of the men said he was a member of the feared Fedayeen Saddam militia.
’You think Saddam is now gone, so you can do what you like,’ he raged.”

Reported by others in the U.S.:

5. Gordon Newby, “a historian and professor of Middle Eastern studies at Emory University in Atlanta”
6. John Russell, “a professor of art history and archaeology at the Massachusetts College of Art”
7. Samuel Paley, “a professor of classics at the State University of New York, Buffalo”
8. Koichiro Matsuura, “head of the U.N.'s cultural agency, UNESCO”
9. “The governments of Russia, Jordan and Greece also voiced deep concern about the looting.”
10. “Some blamed the U.S. military”
11. McGuire Gibson, “a University of Chicago professor and president of the American Association for Research in Baghdad”
12. Patty Gerstenblith, a professor at DePaul School of Law in Chicago

*

Hassan Hafidh, Reuters, Saturday, April 12, 2003.

Article

Hassan Hafidh uses two sources for his article, Nabhal Amin and Muhsen Kadhim. Like the others, he refers to Nabhal Amin as the "deputy director" of the museum. Of course, she was not. She was, in reality, an ex-employee who happened to live in the neighborhood and who shared with Donny George a perfectly reasonable (for a Ba'athist) anti-American sentiment.

Sources:

1. Nabhal Amin
2. Muhsen Kadhim

1. Nabhal Amin, "deputy director."
Looters have sacked Baghdad's antiquities museum, plundering treasures dating back thousands of years to the dawn of civilization in Mesopotamia, museum staff said on Saturday.

They blamed U.S. troops for not protecting the treasures.

Surveying the littered glass wreckage of display cases and pottery shards at the Iraqi National Museum on Saturday, deputy director Nabhal Amin wept and told Reuters: "They have looted or destroyed 170,000 items of antiquity dating back thousands of years...They were worth billions of dollars."

She blamed U.S. troops, who have controlled Baghdad since the collapse of President Saddam Hussein's rule on Wednesday, for failing to heed appeals from museum staff to protect it from looters who moved in to the building on Friday.

"The Americans were supposed to protect the museum. If they had just one tank and two soldiers nothing like this would have happened," she said. "I hold the American troops responsible for what happened to this museum."
(My bolding)

2. Muhsen Kadhim, "museum guard for the last 30 years."
"We know people are hungry but what are they going to do with these antiquities," said Muhsen Kadhim, a museum guard for the last 30 years but who said he was overwhelmed by the number of looters.

"As soon as I saw the American troops near the museum, I asked them to protect it but the second day looters came and robbed or destroyed all the antiquities," he said.



*

John F. Burns, “Pillagers Strip Iraqi Museum of Its Treasure,” New York Times, Saturday, April 12, 2003.

Article with the 50,000 figure

Article with 170,000 figure

Burns has always written well, but for basic reporting, this article is pretty thin. We get a lot of “officials said” attribution. In fact, there is no concrete attribution to a named source until well down the column.

There is only one attributed source and that is Raid Abdul Ridhar Muhammad. Who the other "officials" are, he doesn't say.

"Officials said" can be used to hold off attribution until further down the news article or it can be used for anonymous attribution (sources who for whatever reason remain anonymous).

John F. Burns is on the record for saying that he changed the figure from 50,000 to 170,000 later in the evening after he talked to the other journalists back at the Palestine Hotel. Therefore, it appears that when Burns and McGeough arrived, Nabhal Amin was already gone and the figure of 170,000 was added by Burns when Hamza Hendawi or one of the other journalists told him about the figure that had been given to them by Nabhal Amin. And this means that John F. Burns, patron saint of reporters, added the 170,000 without ever even talking to the original source of the number. He added that figure just from what other journalists told him. That, my friends, is shoddy journalism.

Sources:

1. "officials" / "officials with crumpled spirits" / "museum officials"
2. Raid Abdul Ridhar Muhammad


1. “So what officials told journalists today may have to be adjusted as a fuller picture comes to light.” / “Officials with crumpled spirits” / “museum officials said”

2. Raid Abdul Ridhar Muhammad, “an Iraqi archaeologist who has participated in the excavation of some of the country's 10,000 sites”
He spoke with deep bitterness against the Americans.

Mr. Muhammad, the archaeologist, directed much of his anger at President Bush.

*

Paul McGeough, “A Cultural Catastrophe,” Sydney Morning Herald, April 12, 2003.

Article

According to McGeough, he and John F. Burns went to the Iraq National Museum together. Their nerves were frayed by this point. "The hand-drawn map we had given was not particularly good," McGeough recalls, "so after we'd been around the block three times, Burns and I began yelling at each other. ... Our tiredness had turned us into zombies; the tension release created by the end of the war meant that we didn't have the reserves to cope with another wrong turn" (McGeough 260-1).

Neither Burns nor McGeough use use Nabhal Amin as a source. The main source they use is Raid Abdul Ridhar Mohammad. The figure of 170,000 does not come from Mr. Mohammad, but from Nabhal Amin. It appears that Burns was given the 170,000 figure from others journalists, perhaps Hendawi or Rifadh, both of whom used that number in their reports.

There are other peculiarities. McGeough attributes the following quote to Hoysen Hassan:
"All gone, all gone," he said. "All gone in two days."
Burns attributes the same quote to a different person, Raid Abdul Ridhar Mohammad:
"All gone, all gone," he said. "All gone in two days."
McGeough's characterization of Mr. Rahman as a "gibbering wreck" is classic McGeough, as I'm starting to learn.

Sources:

1. Mohsen Hassan, 56, “an archaeologist and deputy curator.”
2. Abdul Rahman, “museum’s 57-year-old live-in guard”; “gibbering wreck”
3. Ra’ed Abdul Ridha Mohammed, 35, “another of the museum’s archaeologists”
4. Ahmed Mohammed, 27, (man-on-the-street)
5. Donald Rumsfeld, (McGeough includes a snarky reference to the "freedom is untidy" statement.)
6. Nezar Ahmed, "electrical engineer," (man-on-the-street)

*

Maura Fogarty, "Baghdad Looting Continues," Voice of America News (audio), April 12, 2003.

"Baghdad Looting Continues" You can also listen to the audio version at this link.


Ms. Fogarty was reporting for VOA from Cairo, Egypt. We assume she used the New York Times and the 170,000 figure to write her copy. And thus what Joel Best calls a "mutant statistic" expands, this time over the radio waves (Best 62-95).

Joel Best, Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001).

Sources:

1. Nabhal Amin

1. Nabhal Amin, “museum’s deputy director”

The museum's deputy director, Nabhal Amin, says about 170,000 priceless items had been looted or destroyed.

But she says some of the museum's most valuable artifacts had been moved into safe storage before the U.S.-led coalition attacked Iraq. Part of the museum collection was damaged during the 1991 Gulf war.

Ms. Amin says she blames U.S. troops for not protecting the museum, despite appeals from its staff.


*

Lost

Jeffrey Schuster

Last week I was riding the F train out to the Central Branch of the Queens Public Library when I suddenly realized that my gloves were missing. I checked my coat pockets. I checked my backpack. I looked on the floor, glanced under the seat. Damn! Gone.

Where could I have dropped them? I knew I had them on when I left the house. I was sure of that. As I retraced my steps in my mind I suddenly remembered hearing the train pull into the Steinway St. station. I also remember having to rush to get my money out for a token. I had scrambled down the steps to the token booth. Then it hit me. Right then I must have pulled my gloves off and stuck them in my armpit as I dug for change. And then, rushing through the turnstile, they must have fallen out. I was in too much of a hurry to notice. I pictured them -- leather gloves that I've had for a couple years now -- lying on the cement just beyond the turnstiles. So there I sat in the rocking subway car, heading out to the end of the F line in Queens, feeling sad about my lost gloves.

As I sat there, elbows on knees, hands locked together, I had a sudden flash of a lost shovel from my childhood. A month ago I was on the phone with my Dad and, at one point, I asked, "Hey, do you remember a shovel I had when I was pretty little?"

He remembered it perfectly. The scoop was half-blue and half-brown, a child's size shovel.

I told him how puzzled I was by its disappearance.

"Oh, you were always losing things," he said.

"I was?"

"Yeah. You were always losing hats and gloves. We had such a terrible time with you."

The mention of gloves jogged my memory. It's true. I was always coming home from school with something missing. What my parents didn't know, however, was how I ended up losing all those things. For example, my friends and I loved the James Bond films and we especially liked an evil Asian henchman named Odd Job. Odd Job had a special bowler hat with a razor-sharp brim. He would spin it at his adversaries, usually slicing their heads off so quickly that their mouths and eyes were still moving and twitching as the head lay on the ground.

Anyway, one cold winter afternoon, I was horsing around with a friend. He was standing on the steps outside one of the school buildings. I was standing at the bottom of the steps. My gloves were stiff from the cold.

"Ha! Odd Job!" I yelled at my friend, flinging one of the gloves off my hand.

The glove spun through the air. My friend ducked. The glove sailed past him and twirled through a two-inch gap in an open window. This was the window for the girls' bathroom.

I walked home that afternoon, one hand gloved, the other deep in my coat pocket.

Another time, during winter recess outside, a bunch of us were taking turns grabbing onto the back fenders of passing cars and then sliding along the icy street. My turn came. The guy behind the wheel looked like a retired farmer. As he passed, I ran up to the back fender and grabbed hold. I slid along for a good thirty-to-forty feet before I let go. My hands, however, came away bare. Astonished, I saw that my two gloves were frozen to the fender. My classmates were hooting and laughing as the old farmer drove into town with my gloves. I felt kind of sick inside, wondering how I was going to explain losing both of my gloves to my parents. Later, walking down Main Street, I saw the farmer heading home. To my surprise, the gloves were still stuck there. I guess he hadn't noticed them. I ran after the car, but it was useless. After twenty steps, he was already a block away.

The most serious loss, though, was the time I lost my glasses. I started to wear glasses when I was in the second or third grade. The first couple years I didn't have to wear them all the time, so I kept them in a case and carried them back and forth to school in my bookbag. One spring afternoon after school, Ken Pins and I were fighting. All the way home, we pummeled each other with our bookbags. That evening, I emptied my bookbag and couldn't find them. Eventually I had to tell my Mom. My Dad went through the roof. He made me retrace my steps home, checking everyone's frontyard, the sidewalks, the streets I crossed. He also made me knock on everyone's door. I had to ask them if they had found a pair of glasses that day. I knew it was kind of hopeless. I had a bad feeling about where they were. I remembered that Ken and I slugged it out for a long time by the edge of the creek. I went back there, checked the grass and under bushes as best as I could. They had probably slipped into the creek, I figured.

My parents had to buy me new glasses and I was under a watchful eye for a long time after that.

But the most haunting loss, to me, was that shovel. I must have been about five years old when my father gave it to me.

One afternoon my Dad came home early and told me to get my shovel, that we were going to a plot of land off county highway X-47. My uncle Wally and his fishing buddies were digging a pond there. I went into the garage where all the garden tools were hanging. It wasn’t there. I searched through the rest of the garage. Not there. I went to the backyard, thinking I might have left it by the sandbox. Nope, not a sign.

I came around to the front of the house and my Dad was waiting by the truck. “Let’s go. Where’s your shovel?”

I had to tell him I couldn’t find it. This completely baffled him. He’s one of those people who never loses anything. At seventy, he has the same tools he used when he was a young man.

I was frantic. I looked in the evergreen bushes in front of the picture window. No where to be found. I couldn’t explain how it disappeared. My father, of course, was furious. He assumed the worst. Maybe I had taken it to the town creek and left it there. Or maybe I took it with me to the area in town where they were building new houses. My friends and I were always playing on those sites. Maybe I had broken the handle and ditched it somewhere, afraid to show it to him. Maybe I lent it to a friend and that friend lost it. In his mind, any of these scenarios was possible.

Because I couldn't find the shovel, I had to stay behind. For the rest of the afternoon I kept looking for it. I never found it.

Last week, then, I was thinking about that shovel as I strolled up and down the aisles of the library, remembering how bad I felt about not being able to go with my father to that pond. I'll never know what happened to it. I pulled a few books down, checked them out, and returned to the subway.

Back at home, my hands were cold as I dug the keys out to the front door. Inside, as I pulled my backpack off, I looked over to the bed and there, one lying on top of the other, were my gloves.

Basic Research and Composition

Research and composition are broadly similar for the college freshman writing a research paper in his or her dorm room, the daily journalist writing to deadline at his desk, and the professional scholar taking notes in an archive somewhere. All three must locate and select primary sources while reading secondary sources to help them understand and perhaps interpret the topic. The college freshman will generally use more secondary sources. The journalist will favor interviews as his primary sources and use secondary sources to verify background information. The scholar prefers to handle primary sources in the form of documents, whether it be a shipping register or a collection of unpublished letters.

I am an ESL teacher at a university in New York and a blogger. I have been a critical reader since I began writing papers in college about thirty years ago now. I consider myself an informed critic of the media and open to new information and new interpretations of the media’s role and performance in general and coverage of Iraq in particular. What follows is a brief account of my research of and writing about one specific episode in the second Iraq War, the looting of the Iraq National Museum and, more importantly, the media’s portrayal of that event. My written response, beginning with Iraq Antiquities Revisited, includes research of both primary and secondary material and the beginning of analysis and interpretation.

One evening about two months ago I read journalist Paul McGeough’s In Baghdad: A Reporter’s Story, in which he recounts his reporting on the story of the looting of the Iraq National Museum. I had followed the story when it first occurred and remembered hearing later news reports that the story had been exaggerated. Reading McGeough’s account of the arrival with John F. Burns at the museum that Saturday made me curious about what had really happened those two days in Baghdad and why the media had failed and why it took them so long to correct the record. After writing an initial blog entry, I decided to concentrate on this story and see what I could learn. I began my investigation, it should be disclosed, with the assumptions that the media had failed and that it took the media a long time to get the full story. Would I have to change my assumptions? A good researcher is always open to having to alter initial assumptions.

Using both Google and LexisNexis Academic, I began by reading a large numbers of articles – two to three hundred -- about the story to get a feeling for the general sequence of events. Then I started to select and bookmark those articles that seemed essential to the story. I created bookmark files for each day. For example, for Saturday, April 12, 2003, I bookmarked at least twenty articles and clipped more from LexisNexis that were placed into Microsoft Word files. I printed out the major articles, dropped them into a manila folder, and re-read them with a highlighter as I rode the subway to and from university.

In this way I started to put together a rough day-by-day chronology that changed as I read more articles and took notes. I also grabbed a bunch of manila folders and began collecting material for separate areas of research. In my “chronology” folder, for example, I created a calendar for the spring and summer of 2003 and also a more detailed daily record. While assessing the general lines of the story, I also started to see the points of conflict and ambiguity within the story itself.

At the same time, along with a chronology, I created a list of major participants (see The Gang’s All Here!) among the Iraqis connected to the museum, Iraqi citizens and eyewitnesses, the thieves, the American military, and finally the most vocal archaeologists and historians.

With a more refined chronology and a list of individuals, I was able to narrow my research and look for more information that would help me understand this fairly complex story.

I also began to read secondary sources that would help me with those areas of journalism that I needed to understand in more detail. I returned to a few books that I had already read and were on my bookshelf, such as Michael Schudson’s Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers and David Mindich’s Just the Facts: How "Objectivity" Came to Define American Journalism. I also tracked down books on the media coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the aftermath. For example, I used Tumber and Palmer’s Media at War: the Iraq Crisis, which offered a good analysis for the question of bias in the reporting of the second Iraq War. Online I found several articles that helped immensely, three of them being Alexander Joffe’s “Museum Madness in Baghdad,” Roger Atwood’s “Inside Iraq’s National Museum,” and Andrew Lawler’s “Mayhem in Mesopotomia.”

I continued reading and researching for a few weeks, creating more folders, and tracking down more details of the story. Finally, I started writing and chose a magazine-style article form with bolded headings for division markers because I thought it would be a good way to tell the story. Later, I could write individual essays on specific areas of interest.

For the next several days, I wrote and rewrote the article when I had time between classes. I wanted to keep the sequence simple and the outlines clear for the general reader. As usual, one of the first questions you need to answer when writing is when the story actually begins. I chose the morning of April 8, 2003, when Donny George and his colleagues decided to leave the museum complex. I selected the following as the basic sequence of events:

A (April 8 - 11)
B (April 12- 15)
C (April 16/17 – May 22)
D (June 7- )
E (analysis)

Then I used a standard in medias res technique, beginning my article with April 12, 2003, the day that the news of the looting exploded via the international media outlets, and then in the second section I returned to April 8 and start the narrative there and proceeded through the April 12 and up to April 15.

B (April 12 – in medias res)
A (April 8 – 15 / B ) “Our heritage is finished”
C (April 16/17 – May 22) New Facts Begin to Emerge
D (June 7- ) “It’s Bollocks”
E (analysis) Disposed to Believe the Worst

After I finished the magazine-style piece, I was able to begin researching other aspects of the story and related issues. Those will be added as I finish them over the next three months.

*

Babar

Jeffrey Schuster

I'm one of those people, it seems, who generally just grabs whatever's at hand. I conform to my surroundings. In this small apartment, a table would take up too much space, so for the past couple of years I've been eating on my bed, using Babar's La Fete de Celesteville -- an oversized hardback children's book -- as a kind of table.

The other day after dinner, as I was brushing the crumbs from a sandwich off of Babar and into the wastebasket, I started thinking about children's books. I tried to remember the books from my own childhood. To be honest, I don't remember them so well. But I do remember my mother's college copy of Dante's Inferno -- a little window into the world of adults. In the living room when I was growing up, we had a narrow bookshelf that had this burgandy-colored hardback filled with gruesome engravings. I had no intention of reading it. Occasionally, though, I would steel myself and look through the illustrations of people being tortured in various parts of Hell. The expressions of agony on their faces were quite realistic. It seemed doubly strange because of the way their bodies were covered with these spidery nets of lines that the engraver had used to render his subjects.

We also had the World Book Encyclopedia. This reference work came in handy when I was in the fifth grade. This was the mid-sixties and Batman was a popular primetime show. One spring afternoon, there was a downpour and we had to stay inside for recess. The teacher told us we could take sheets of construction paper and draw whatever we wanted. I set to work and suddenly found myself drawing an enormous Batwoman. She was standing up in the Batmobile and must have been about three times the size of the car. Next to her, Batman and Robin were less the midgets. A couple of my friends came over to see what I was doing. Soon a group formed around my desk because Batwoman had no shirt on and she had gigantic breasts. All my friends were laughing and pointing, clapping me on the back, praising my skill. And then, from somewhere above, an adult hand came swooping down and snatched the drawing from the top of the desk. I was in deep trouble.

I was taken to the principal's office. They phoned my mother and explained the situation. They told her that I'd be staying late for my punishment. At three o'clock, as all my friends headed for home, I stayed in the classroom and began writing "I will not draw dirty pictures." I had to write that sentence two hundred times. At first, I would write all the words in order, but then I realized it would be much faster to divide the sentence into columns. So, on the left-hand side of the board, I would make a long column of "I"s, then move on to "will"s and so on. This seemed to speed things up. Every now and then one of the nuns came in to check up on me. By her expression, I knew she disapproved of my method but she didn't say anything.

The walk home was horrible. I knew I was walking into an ambush. My mother would be waiting for me by the kitchen stove. I had to think of an excuse. This occupied my mind all the way home. I was a block away when I found the solution. In the World Book Encyclopedia, there were lots of photos of Greek statues. Naked women with missing arms. At home, when my Mom demanded an explanation, I blamed it on the pictures in the encyclopedia. That's where I got such ideas, I told her. Maybe I did, too. Anyway, it didn't help much. I knew that my father would be home pretty soon and then it would be the belt, no way around that.

About that same time that I was learning about the dangers of pictures, I experienced for the first time how overwhelming reading can be. Once a month, on Fridays, the nuns at St. Francis Xavier would hand out copies of this Catholic comic book called Treasure Chest. In it, we would follow the serialized story of a kid named Chuck White. He was trying to make the football team. He's not very good, but through persistence, he not only makes the team but becomes a hero by catching the winning touchdown pass. At the library I found a book that was pretty much like Chuck White's. That evening, I went back into my room and started reading. I couldn't put the book down. I stopped at one point to brush my teeth and put my pajamas on, but then, after everyone fell asleep, I turned my closet light on and continued reading. I read all the way through the night, finishing the book around dawn. I remember looking out the window. The backyard looked eerie in the morning light. I was bone tired. I fell asleep and then was woken up an hour later by my Mom. I couldn't tell her what I had done, so I went through school the next day like a zombie. I decided to stay away from long books like that. This lasted until high school.

In high school I read the same books as my classmates, the ones assigned to us, books like Orwell's 1984 and Steinbeck's The Pearl. But then, in college, reading became a passion and eventually got out of control. I spent most of my waking hours in the imaginary worlds that books helped me create. I reached a point where I covered my windows with blankets and read through the day and night, diving right from one book into the other.

I was living in a rooming house in Iowa City. Except for a mattress on the floor and a kitchen table in the center of the room, the room was filled with books. One night, while sitting on my bed and reading, I noticed something flashing above the pages of my paperback. I thought my eyes were getting a little buggy. I rubbed them and continued reading. A few minutes later, I saw this flashing again. I lowered the book and saw that the end of my bed was on fire. I leapt up, threw the door open, and doused the flames with glasses of water from the communal bathroom. The cause was obvious. Like an idiot, I had connected too many extension cords into one socket. I tore the sheet off my bed -- it was ruined -- and inspected the burnt hole in the mattress. It looked fine. I got my book and went back to reading. About ten minutes later, I still smelled smoke and, oddly, it seemed to be getting stronger. I reluctantly put my book aside and took a look at the charred hole. A thin plume of smoke was rising from it. I looked inside but couldn't see anything. Then, leaning over, I brought my foot down hard on the mattress. A huge flame jumped out and almost burned the end of my nose. It was then that I realized that the whole inside of the mattress was on fire. In a mad panic, I drug the mattress down the steps and out onto the front porch. I took the garden hose and stuck the nozzle in the hole, pumping in quite a few gallons. That night I finished the book, sitting on the floor on my room. For the next couple months that soggy mattress hung over the railing of the porch.

Tonight I opened up Babar and turned the pages. All the animals come together and throw a big party. There are all kinds of diversions for the elephants, giraffes, monkeys, camels, and birds. Everyone has a good time. The pictures remind me a little of the carnival that used to come to my hometown every August. But Babar's world and mine -- or the world as I see it today -- are pretty different.

By the way, Babar is also my writing table. As I put down this last sentence, Babar's trunk is partially covered by this piece of paper and the pen is kind of scratching his nose.

*

Flip Side

Jeffrey Schuster

I have one memory that's like a well-worn photograph. I've taken it out many times, a cherished memory. I consider it one of a handful of first memories -- the ones I've been able to hold onto.

In the first grade, at St. Francis Xavier grade school, we had a Christmas pageant. All of my classmates and I were invited to participate. We were told we could wear our pajamas and to bring our favorite stuffed animal. I wore very soft cotton pajamas and brought my tiger that I slept with every night.

I remember how we all sat on the bleachers in the gymnasium together and I remember the soft glow of light that filled the open room. A beautiful memory.

This summer, while back home on a visit, I mentioned this to Mom and Dad. We were sitting on the front porch. Dad was drinking decaf and I was drinking a cup of regular coffee. I couldn’t remember ever telling them about this little memory, so I though I’d see if they could remember it themselves. I kind of doubted it. They have eight children. How could they remember this one little incident, just another Friday night for them -- young, beleaguered parents.

My Dad listened to the story and then said, rubbing his chin, "Isn't that the time you got lost in that blizzard?"

"What?! What do you mean?"

"I'm pretty sure that was the time." He called through the screen door. Mom was in the kitchen. "Starla, when did Jeff get caught in that blizzard?"

Mom came to the door, wiping her hands on a dishtowel. "Oh, my God. We were so worried."

Dad went on to explain how at the end of the pageant there had been some mix-up about who was supposed to pick me up. Evidently, when I couldn't find either of my parents, I pushed through the gym doors and started walking home in my pajamas and holding my tiger.

The temperature was around zero and the blizzard was in full force. I must have known the general direction for home.

Back at the gymnasium Mom and Dad and all the other parents were frantically searching for me in the building. But I was nowhere to be found. Finally Mom and Dad put my two older sisters Aimee and Barb into the car and started driving around the surrounding streets. They had crossed the bridge, Dad said, when one of my sisters spotted me passing down a sidewalk behind a snowbank. They rushed me home and had to stick my hands in lukewarm water, hoping I wouldn't lose any fingers. I didn't.

I have absolutely no recollection of any of that. I had the strangest feeling sitting on the front porch, my father sitting on the swing, sipping on his coffee.

All those years I've had such good feelings about that evening and, all that time, what must have been a traumatic event was there on the flip side.

*

Reporters' Sources: April 14, 2003

*

Monday, April 14, 2003.

David Blair, “Thieves of Baghdad rob museums of priceless treasure,” Daily Telegraph, April 14, 2003.
Jonathan Steele, “Museum's treasures left to the mercy of looters,” Guardian, April 14, 2003.
Bill Marx, “Iraq’s National Museum Looted,” WBUR, April 14, 2003.
Mary Wiltenburg and Philip Smucker, “Looters plunder in minutes Iraq's millennia-old legacy,” Christian Science Monitor, April 14, 2003.
“Pluenderer stehlen Iraks Erbe,” Netzeitung, April 14, 2003.
Anne Garrels, “Looting Decimates Iraq Museum Collection,” All Things Considered, NPR, April 14, 2003.

*

David Blair, “Thieves of Baghdad rob museums of priceless treasure,” Daily Telegraph, April 14, 2003.

Article

Sources:

1. Abdul Rahman
2. Raid Abdul Ridha Mohammed
3. Mr. Nasser

1. Abdul Rahman
The attack on the museum began on Thursday, a day after the arrival of American troops. Abdul Rahman, 57, a guard at the museum, watched as thousands of people surged inside the building.

Many carried AK47 assault rifles, which they fired in the air. Women and children were among the crowd. "There is no government - we want to steal. There is no Saddam Hussein - we will do what we like," they were shouting, said Mr Rahman.

2. Raid Abdul Ridha Mohammed
A few museum officials watched as the mob ransacked the exhibition halls and the vaults. Raid Abdul Ridha Mohammed, 35, a museum archaeologist, said: "A country's value is in its history. If a country's civilisation is looted, then that country is ended."

The mob continued its destructive work, with people carting away their loot in cars and lorries for two days, ending only on Friday when there was little left to steal or destroy.

Mr Mohammed tried to remonstrate with the mob, but they accused him of being "Saddam's spy" and threatened him with death. After several hours of pillaging on Thursday, he accosted an American tank that was driving past the museum and asked for help.

The tank's crew of five responded immediately and drove away the mob by firing in the air. The American soldiers stayed for about half an hour, during which no looter dared return. Then the Americans departed and the destruction resumed with renewed vigour.

Mr Mohammed blamed the United States. "America promised liberty to the Iraqi people, but this looting is not liberty. If we had stayed under the rule of Saddam Hussein, it would have been much better," he said.

Mr Mohammed was especially distraught that among the missing items is an intricate plaque, dating from 720 BC, depicting a lioness killing a woman in an ivory carving overlaid with solid gold.

"Mr Bush should bring to account every looter and everyone who stole any relic. Without our relics, our antiquities, we have no roots, no existence," he said.
Shocked Iraqis gathered beside the ruined halls of the museum. Mohammed Nasser, 44, said that he had come to defend the artefacts after hearing of the looting. He also blamed America for failing to curb Baghdad's lawlessness.

"These huge forces come to the country and they can't protect these places? Impossible. Didn't they think of this before they invaded the country?" he asked.

3. Mr. Nasser, (man-on-the-street)
Mr Nasser, an American-educated technician from Iraqi Airways, added: "After what I have seen, I wish Saddam Hussein to stay. We don't want this kind of democracy. Democracy cannot come through guns and looting."

*

Jonathan Steele, “Museum's treasures left to the mercy of looters,” Guardian, April 14, 2003.

Article

Sources:

1. Abdul Rehman Mugeer
2. Raeed Abdul Reda

1. Abdul Rehman Mugeer
Abdul Rehman Mugeer, a senior guard, was shaking with anger yesterday at the destruction. He praised the US for at least parking four tanks in front of the museum when they took control of Baghdad last Wednesday. But they were later removed, leaving the museum to the mercy of rampaging Iraqis.

"Gangs of several dozen came," he said. "Some had guns. They threatened to kill us if we did not open up. The looting went on for two days."

2. Raeed Abdul Reda
The Americans returned with tanks at one point on Friday and sent the looters fleeing, but as soon as the tanks rumbled away, the gangs came back to finish the job.

"I asked them to leave one tank here all the time but they have refused," said Raeed Abdul Reda, an archeologist.

For months before the war began the archaeologist curators crated and stored some of the most valuable items in the building's basements.

The museum escaped the bombing, but it has been stripped almost bare. "Eighty per cent of what we had was stolen," Mr Reda said, standing in the glass-littered compound.

"They prised open the special chambers which are protected behind thick doors like safes. They came with crowbars and prised them open."

At more or less the time the world was watching Saddam Hussein's statue being torn from its plinth, looters were vandalising statues from the great civilisations of Nineveh and Babylon with equal energy.

Heads of ancient stone now lie on the museum floor. The bodies from which they came have been pockmarked by powerful blows.

"They were too heavy to move to the basement, and stood there until the vandals came and laid into them with iron bars," Mr Reda said.

It was clear from his description of the frenzy of destruction that these were not professional thieves with an eye on the auction markets of the world but people out for whatever they could get their hands on, and if it was too big to cart away, they smashed it to vent their frustration. Display cases are empty, pottery shards litter the floor. In the vault for archeological fragments drawers that once held evidence of Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian culture have been pulled out and stripped.

"There were hundreds of looters, including women, children and old people. They were uneducated. We know who they are," Mr Reda said, in a way that left little doubt they were from the poor slums of the Shia quarter.

*

Bill Marx, “Iraq’s National Museum Looted,” WBUR, April 14, 2003.

Article / Audio

1. Paul Zimansky
According to Professor Zimansky, the looting of the museum's ancient artifacts is the greatest cultural disaster of the last 500 years.


*

Mary Wiltenburg and Philip Smucker, “Looters plunder in minutes Iraq's millennia-old legacy,” Christian Science Monitor, April 14, 2003.

Article

Sources:

1. Mohsin Kadhun
2. Paul Zimansky
3. McGuire Gibson
4. James Armstrong

1. Mohsin Kadhun, archaeologist
He could see the mob coming, and feared not for his life, but for the treasures of Iraq's ancient past - some of them 7,000 years old - that had been left in his care.

"I took my white underpants off and put them on a stick and ran up the street to the US Marines," says archaeologist Mohsin Kadun. "I asked them - no, begged them - to help me preserve our treasures, but they would not drive down the street."

This past weekend, the frenzy of looting that has engulfed Baghdad since US troops took control of the city last Wednesday spread to the one place archaeologists worldwide hoped might be spared: the Iraqi National Museum. As hundreds of looters ran down the halls, stealing or smashing almost 70 percent of the repository's valuable statues, carvings, and artifacts, Mr. Kadun, a 30-year museum employee, stood helpless at the gates, screaming.


2. Paul Zimansky, professor of Near Eastern archaeology at Boston University
Iraq has been called one giant historic site, and for 80 years its national Museum has been the repository of irreplaceable records and collections of ancient art and artifacts from the country's Babylonian, Assyrian, and Mesopotamian past. The ransacking has caused incalculable loss to Iraq's, and the world's, cultural heritage, experts say. "If Iraq has anything besides oil, any meaning for humanity, it is in this history," says Paul Zimansky, professor of Near Eastern archaeology at Boston University.

Sunday, with the threat of more vandalism, US forces still had not arrived to secure the museum. "It reflects badly on us as Americans," says Dr. Zimansky. "We've behaved like absolute barbarians. OK, you can blame a mob, but they looted because law and order was broken down, and we broke it down. Then we stood by and watched."

3. McGuire Gibson, University of Chicago, the leading US researcher in Mesopotamian archaeology,
Before the war began, Kadun was in charge of moving artifacts into two giant vaults to prevent them from crashing off their pedestals as US bombs shook Baghdad. Other archaeologists also took protective measures. A group of scholars, conservators, and collectors, including MacGuire Gibson of the University of Chicago, the leading US researcher in Mesopotamian archaeology, drew up a list for the Pentagon of more than 4,000 crucial Iraqi museums, monuments, and archaeological digs, urging commanders to spare them. "The museum was at the top of that list," Dr. Gibson says.

Dr. Gibson learned of the looting on Friday, when the mob had only sacked the museum's first floor, and not yet its vaults. "That's as if somebody had gotten into the Metropolitan [Museum in New York] and taken everything out of half of it," he said, his voice shaking.

4. James Armstrong, assistant curator of Harvard University's Semitic Museum
James Armstrong, assistant curator of Harvard University's Semitic Museum, says he hopes that once order is restored in Iraq at least some of the stolen treasures can be recovered. In postwar Afghanistan, authorities set up checkpoints and caught some of the smugglers trying to take Buddhist artifacts into Pakistan. Iraqi artifacts will be more valuable to international collectors, but scholars say some stolen items are so well-known that they'll be impossible to sell and could in time be returned.

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“Pluenderer stehlen Iraks Erbe,” Netzeitung, April 14, 2003.

Article

Using Washington Post article:
Am Wochenende kehrten die Angestellten des Museums zum ersten Mal zurück, um die Schäden zu begutachten, berichtet die «Washington Post». Die Zerstörungen hätten ihre schlimmsten Erwartungen übertroffen. Unter anderem ist der Katalog verloren, in dem sämtliche Kunstschätze des Museums aufgelistet sind. Ein Lagerraum, in dem Tausende noch unklassifizierte Stücke aufbewahrt wurden, ist fast vollständig verwüstet – viele der Stücke werde man wohl nicht mehr restaurieren können, so ein Archäologe.


Sources:

1. Nabhal Amin
Viele Stücke waren vor Beginn der Bombardierung ausgelagert worden, doch viele der unersetzlichen Stücke waren dazu zu groß. Sie wurden mit Sandsäcken, Kisten und Schaum geschützt. «Wir waren auf Bomben vorbereitet», zitiert die «Post» Nabhal Amin, den stellvertretenden Direktor des Museums, «nicht auf Plünderer».

Nach ersten Schätzungen wurden 170.000 Kunstwerke zerstört oder gestohlen, Teile einer der wichtigsten und größten kulturgeschichtlichen Sammlungen der Welt. «Unser Erbe ist vernichtet», sagte Amin. «Warum haben sie das getan? Warum? Warum?»

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Anne Garrels, “Looting Decimates Iraq Museum Collection,” All Things Considered, NPR, April 14, 2003.

Article / Audio

The looting of Iraq's National Museum is so extensive that curators say it will be easier to catalogue what remains than to document what was stolen or destroyed. Museum staff are bitter that American troops were only a few hundred yards away when the looting started, but did nothing to stop it. NPR's Anne Garrels reports.


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Reporters' Sources: April 13, 2003

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Sunday, April 13, 2003.

Richard Brooks and Nicholas Rufford, “Looters walk off with antiquities,” Times Online, April 13, 2003.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “’Our Heritage Is Finished,’” Washington Post, April 13, 2003.
Elizabeth Day and Philip Sherwell, “Looters strip Iraqi National Museum of its antiquities,” Daily Telegraph , April 13, 2003.
Robert Fisk, “A Civilization Torn to Pieces,” Independent, April 13, 2003.
Bill Glauber, “Artifacts survive war – not chaos,” Chicago Tribune, April 13, 2003.

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Richard Brooks and Nicholas Rufford, “Looters walk off with antiquities,” Times Online, April 13, 2003.

Article

Sources:

1. Nabhal Amin
2. Muhsen Kadhim

1. Nabhal Amin
Staff blamed American forces for not protecting the museum. Nabhal Amin, the deputy director, wept as she claimed the thieves had looted or destroyed 170,000 items “worth billions of dollars”. Other sources suggested 10,000 items had been on display.

Amin said: “The Americans were supposed to protect the museum. If they had just one tank and two soldiers nothing like this would have happened. I hold them responsible.”
2. Muhsen Kadhim
Muhsen Kadhim, a museum guard for 30 years, said: “We know people are hungry but what are they going to do with these antiquities?” Kadhim, who said he had been overwhelmed by the looters, added: “As soon as I saw the American troops near the museum I asked them to protect it but the second day looters came and robbed or destroyed all the antiquities.”

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Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “’Our Heritage Is Finished,’” Washington Post, April 13, 2003.

“Staff writers Mary Beth Sheridan in Baghdad and Guy Gugliotta in Washington contributed to this report.”

Article

Sources:

1. Nabhal Amin
2. Sherko Jaf
3. Sgt. Mark Grice
4. Anonymous US official
5. Lt. Erik Balascik
6. Roland Huguenin-Benjamin
7. Saad Tuema
8. Mehdi Zuemi
9. Amir Kadhim
10. John Russell

1. Nabhal Amin
"Our heritage is finished," lamented Nabhal Amin, the museum's deputy director, as she surveyed a Sumerian tablet that had been cracked in two. "Why did they do this? Why? Why?"

"If there were five American soldiers at the door, everything would have been fine," Amin said about the museum. "They're supposed to be here to protect us. They should be protecting us."

At the National Museum of Antiquities, Amin said she wants American soldiers -- and lots of them. Today, as she led a small group of journalists through the museum, five looters armed with an ax sneaked into one of the rooms, prompting several of the journalists to give chase. "They will keep coming here until there is nothing left to take," she said.

"We were ready for the bombs," Amin said. "Not the looters."

As she quickly walked through more than three dozen rooms, Amin did not catalog what was missing or damaged. There was just too much. But every few minutes, she would stop in front of an empty pedestal or a decapitated statue.

"This was priceless," she sobbed as she pointed to two seated marble deities from the temple at Harta that had been defaced with a hammer. Later, after observing more damage, she broke down again. "It feels like all my family has died," she wept.
Even storage rooms and workshops were trashed. An old Babylonian wooden harp was broken in two and its gold inlay scraped off. But most inexplicable to her was the destruction of rooms that contained no artifacts, just archaeological records and photographs.

"I cannot understand this," she said. "This was crazy. This was our history. Our glorious history. Why should we destroy it?"

2. Sherko Jaf (man-on-the-street)
"The bombing was terrible for sure, but it is not ruining our city like these looters are," growled Sherko Jaf, a dentist, as he watched a band of young men hauling rolls of carpet out of the 10-story Foreign Ministry building and placing them inside a yellow dump truck. "How will this ministry ever work again? You know, even if we don't have Saddam Hussein, we will still need a foreign ministry."

"Why just the oil ministry?" Jaf asked. "Is it because they just want our oil?"

3. Sgt. Mark Grice, US Marines
U.S. military officials said the Marines have been guarding other sensitive installations, including the Interior Ministry and the Irrigation Ministry, and have stepped up patrols of commonly looted areas, dispatching troops in small convoys of Humvees to deter and apprehend thieves. But during a lengthy drive though the capital today, such patrols could only be seen in two wealthy neighborhoods.

In one of those areas, the Arresat district, a boy on a bicycle flagged down a Marine unit after noticing four men trying to enter a photography shop. The Marines arrived, brandished their M-16 rifles and ordered the men to lay face down on the sidewalk.
As a crowd gathered around, the men insisted they were entering the shop at the owner's request to remove merchandise before looters got to it. Their keys did open the front door. But Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mark Grice, 31, was unconvinced. He noticed a hammer and anvil near the door, and he pointed out that the men's truck had no license plates.

As the men started arguing with some of the Marines, Grice sighed. "Three days ago, we were mortar men," he said. "Now we're babysitters."

Finally, he compromised. The men would have to put the merchandise back in the shop, lock the keys inside and promise never to be seen by Grice again. Grice wondered aloud whether he was making the right call. He figured one of the men was an employee of the shop but that the removal of the goods was unauthorized. By letting them go, he mused, would they just hit another shop?

"How are you supposed to transition from being a warrior to King Solomon?" he said.

4. anonymous U.S. official
Privately, some U.S. officials involved in reconstruction have expressed concern that failure to quickly crack down on looting could have worrisome, long-term consequences for the transitional government that the Bush administration wants to set up here. "By not being more aggressive now, there is the risk of bigger problems later," one official said.


5. Lt. Erik Balascik, US Army Third Infantry Division
Some military officers believe some of the gun battles that have recently erupted among different groups of Iraqis may be turf wars over places to loot or an escalation of long-standing conflicts in the new lawless environment.
"Once the Americans allowed this, it was 'Game On,' " said Lt. Erik Balascik of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

6. Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, spokesman for International Committee of the Red Cross
Many Iraqis and some of the few Western aid workers in the capital expressed wonder that the U.S. military was not more prepared to handle civil disturbances stemming from Hussein's downfall and evaporation of his once-pervasive security forces. "It was predicted," said Roland Huguenin-Benjamin, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross. "Everyone knew it was coming."

7. Saad Tuema, (man-on-the-street)
"I tell the United States, 'You wanted to overthrow the government so you should have taken responsibility and put one soldier in front of every government building,' " said Saad Tuema, a portly, middle-aged engineer who claimed not to have slept in three days because he has been hunting looters. "Instead, they just stood by and let it happen."

8. Mehdi Zuemi, clerk in the Foreign Ministry
"They wanted to let these robberies happen so the Iraqi people will be bankrupt and they will need American assistance," said Mehdi Zuemi, a clerk in the Foreign Ministry who observed his office being destroyed today. "They'll use our oil to pay for it."

9. Amir Kadhim, general surgeon, Yarmouk Hospital
At the Yarmouk Hospital, which was hit by a U.S. tank shell during a street battle Wednesday, doctors said they have no interest in getting protection from U.S. troops. "We just want them to leave us alone," said Amir Kadhim, a general surgeon. "We don't need their protection. We'll do it ourselves."

But a promised contingent of armed guards from the surrounding Karkh neighborhood has not yet materialized. Until they arrive, Kadhim said, the doctors are too nervous to work in the building, so they perform minor surgery, without the benefit of anesthetics or sterilized equipment, on the hospital's portico.

"Yesterday, the looters came with knives and stole our only working ambulance," he said. "How can we feel safe here?"

10. John Russell, archaeologist at Massachusetts College of Art
For the past 70 years, the museum has served as the showcase for records and collections of art and artifacts from the beginnings of ancient Sumer in 3,500 B.C. to the end of Islam's Abbasid Caliphate in 1258 A.D. "There are thousands of one-of-a-kind objects," said John Russell, an archaeologist and art historian at the Massachusetts College of Art. "This material is absolutely irreplaceable."

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Elizabeth Day and Philip Sherwell, “Looters strip Iraqi National Museum of its antiquities,” Daily Telegraph , April 13, 2003.

Article

Sources:

1. Nabhal Amin
2. Dominique Collon
3. Kazem al-Fartisi, (man-on-the-street)
4. Mohammed al-Shamai, (man-on-the-street)
5. Khazen Hussein, (man-on-the-street)
6. Hazem Shami, (man-on-the-street)
7. a senior minister (UK)

1. Nabhal Amin
Surveying the smashed display cases at the museum last night, Nabhal Amin, the deputy director, struggled to hold back the tears. "They have looted or destroyed 170,000 items of antiquity dating back thousands of years," she said. "They were worth billions of dollars."

Ms Amin said: "The Americans were supposed to protect the museum. If they had just one tank and two soldiers nothing like this would have happened. I hold the American troops responsible."
She added: "They know that this is a museum. They protect oil ministries but not the cultural heritage."

2. Dominique Collon
Dominique Collon, the assistant curator of the British Museum's Near Eastern Department, called the events "an absolute disaster".

"Tanks should have been posted outside the museum to protect it and there has been no explanation about why this has not happened.

"The losses will be felt worldwide, but its greatest impact will be on the Iraqi people themselves when it comes to rebuilding their sense of national identity."

3. Kazem al-Fartisi, (man-on-the-street)
"Of course we miss Saddam Hussein now," said Kazem al-Fartisi, 52, who owns several electronics and clothing stores in the al-Arabi market area which was torched Thursday.

"Under him this would never have happened. The police would have stopped the thieves. The Americans are only here to occupy us and drive us into ruin," he said.

4. Mohammed al-Shamai (man-on-the-street)
In Al-Rasafi market, a merchant, Mohammed al-Shamai, fired his pistol in the air as he saw a band of young looters nearing his seven-storey clothing store.
"We want law and order and we want the Americans to protect our stores," said Mr Shamai, who complained that $50,000 worth of his merchandise had already been stolen.

5. Khazen Hussein, (man-on-the-street)
"If the Americans don't defend us then we'll defend ourselves with our own weapons," added another merchant, Khazen Hussein. Young people were also seen with iron bars running after potential thieves. Almost everything has been considered fair game, from the luxurious homes of regime officials to hospitals and diplomatic missions.

6. Hazem Shami, (man-on-the-street)
“If the Americans don't do anything, we'll fight against them," said Hazem Shami, a merchant from Baghdad. "Why don't they force the police to come back to work?"
He said that while countryside tribes had organised ways to keep order, "here there's nothing, so we will defend ourselves".

7. a senior Minister
A senior minister told The Telegraph: "We were very concerned at the looting. We agreed on the need both for the Ministry of Defence police and the police force to help them."

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Robert Fisk, “A Civilization Torn to Pieces,” Independent, April 13, 2003.

Article

Sources:

1. Abdul-Setar Abdul-Jaber
2. Jaber Khalil

1. Abdul-Setar Abdul-Jaber, museum guard
"This is what our own people did to their history," the man in the gray gown said as we flicked our torches yesterday across the piles of once perfect Sumerian pots and Greek statues, now headless, armless, in the storeroom of Iraq's National Archaeological Museum. "We need the American soldiers to guard what we have left. We need the Americans here. We need policemen." But all that the museum guard, Abdul-Setar Abdul-Jaber, experienced yesterday was gun battles between looters and local residents, the bullets hissing over our heads outside the museum and skittering up the walls of neighboring apartment blocks. "Look at this," he said, picking up a massive hunk of pottery, its delicate patterns and beautifully decorated lips coming to a sudden end where the jar perhaps 2ft high in its original form had been smashed into four pieces. "This was Assyrian." The Assyrians ruled almost 2,000 years before Christ.

Mr Ibrahim has vanished, like so many government employees in Baghdad, and Mr Abdul-Jaber and his colleagues are now trying to defend what is left of the country's history with a collection of Kalashnikov rifles. "We don't want to have guns, but everyone must have them now," he told me. "We have to defend ourselves because the Americans have let this happen. They made a war against one man so why do they abandon us to this war and these criminals?"

2. Jaber Khalil (interviewed earlier)
Only a few weeks ago, Jabir Khalil Ibrahim, the director of Iraq's State Board of Antiquities, referred to the museum's contents as "the heritage of the nation". They were, he said, "not just things to see and enjoy we get strength from them to look to the future. They represent the glory of Iraq".

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Bill Glauber, “Artifacts survive war – not chaos,” Chicago Tribune, April 13, 2003.

Article

Sources:

1. Nidal Amin
2. McGuire Gibson
3. Gil Stein
4. Raid Abdul Mohammed

1. Nidal Amin,
"This is the history of Iraq," said Nidal Amin, the museum's deputy director, moved to near tears of rage. She was furious that the museum wasn't secured by U.S. forces gathered in a city overrun by mobs stealing at will.

"If just one American tank stayed outside, just two American police stayed in the door," the looting wouldn't have happened, Amin said.

"They don't know this is a museum?" she cried. "They don't like a museum?"

2. McGuire Gibson
"In all the lists, I stressed that the most important site of all, the No. 1, is this museum," Gibson said. "Because of this, I assumed that it would be secured as soon as they [soldiers] were in the neighborhood."

After nine museums elsewhere in Iraq were looted during the first Persian Gulf war, what was left from them was sent to the National Museum for safekeeping. Given what occurred in 1991, this week's plundering "was absolutely predictable," said Gibson, who has been going to Iraq since 1964 as an archeologist and expert.


3. Gil Stein, director, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
Another American expert, Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, noted that the museum housed the masterpieces of Mesopotamian culture.

"Mesopotamia is the world's first civilization. It's the first place to develop cities, the first place where writing was invented," Stein said. "And the artifacts from the excavations from there are the patrimony for our entire civilization and absolutely irreplaceable."

The Iraqi Department of Antiquities, which oversaw the museum, was never corrupted by Hussein's Baath Party "and had done everything they could to keep these artifacts safe," Stein said. "It's not their failure. The failure is ours."

Assessing the damage from the recent plundering, Stein echoed the frustration of Iraqi museum officials, saying a couple of U.S. soldiers standing outside the museum could have secured it.

"They have gone to great lengths to protect the oil wells," he said. "But the treasures of Iraq's past are immeasurably more valuable."

4. Raid Abdul Mohammed,
"The looting looked organized," said Raid Abdul Mohammed, a museum worker deeply upset at the theft of artifacts that are the building blocks of human history.

"This is civilization--the civilization for you and me," he said.


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I'm currently working on additions for April 14. Updates soon.


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