Thursday, May 01, 2003
As Don Rumsfeld’s security-wrapped “Victory that Dare Not Speak its Name” tour gave the illusion of traveling in two Iraqi cities to a gaggle of excited SecDef aides and plump Washington media a Marine colonel and former Manhattan district attorney tried putting a positive spin on the Iraq Museum devastation.
Gold-plated Head of
a Bull, 2400BC
In a May 1st New York Times story filled with contradictory quotes and headlined Loss Estimates Are Cut, but Questions Remain, we learn:
American investigators now say the losses seem to be less severe than originally thought. Col. Matthew F. Bogdanos, a Marine reservist who is investigating the looting and is stationed at the museum, said museum officials had given him a list of 29 artifacts that were definitely missing. But since then, 4 items — ivory objects from the eighth century B.C. — had been traced. "Twenty-five pieces is not the same as 170,000," said Colonel Bogdanos, who in civilian life is an assistant Manhattan district attorney…As evidence of a planned assault, museum officials say they found keys and glass-cutters. One official said he saw two "European looking" men enter the museum with the mob, point to various treasures and leave. "Behind the looting there were wicked hands," Mr. Khalil said. "They took precious pieces and left less valuable ones”… Officials at the National Museum, whose scholars and scientists are widely respected, dismissed the idea that the museum was targeted as another symbol of Mr. Hussein's rule…Colonel Bogdanos said that some Iraqis returned looted objects to him, rather than to the museum itself, "Everyone says this looting was anger at the regime."…The Iraqi cultural officials cannot help looking back to April 8 and 9, when their appeals for American military protection of the museum went unheeded. In conversation after conversation, the subject resurfaces, invariably with a bitter reminder that American forces were already protecting the nearby Ministry of Oil…The American response since then has been to try to fix what has been broken.
Secretary Rumsfeld signs a soldier's
looted highway sign
On Rummy’s Victory Tour, again via this morning’s New York Times:
Mr. Rumsfeld dismissed any notion that he was indulging in a victory tour…spent much of his day in Baghdad operating from one of Mr. Hussein's opulent palaces…Rumsfeld and his top aides flew into Baghdad's international airport aboard an MC-130 Combat Talon, a transport plane…The plane flew the last 30 miles just 500 feet above the ground to thwart surface-to-air missiles. The secretary wore a flak vest during his heavily guarded motorcade…Mr. Rumsfeld got an upbeat report…from Jay Garner…his handpicked choice to lead the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. Before his meeting, General Garner scolded reporters with Mr. Rumsfeld for dwelling on the shortcomings of the effort to restore civilian order and services to Iraq. "Yeah, there are some demonstrations, but that's the first step in democracy," General Garner said. "You're allowed to demonstrate." As reporters were leaving, he called them back to make one last point: "We ought to look in a mirror and get proud, and stick out our chests and suck in our bellies and say, `Damn, we're Americans!' "
Photos: Hirmer Vertag and Luke Frazza