Tuesday, April 15, 2003 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Congressman Jerrold Nadler On the Endless War: Is...
2003-04-15

Did U.S. Antiques Collectors Have Plans to Loot Iraq Themselves? International Outrage Continues at U.S. Failure to Protect the Famous National Museum Or Baghdad’s National Library and Archives

download:   Video Get CD/DVD More Formats
This is viewer supported news

After international outrage at the failure of US troops to protect hospitals and the looting of the famous National Museum, Baghdad’s National Library and Archives went up in flames yesterday. Almost all of the contents of the library are destroyed.

British war correspondent Robert Fisk reports the library was a priceless treasure of Ottoman historical documents, including the old royal archives of Iraq. He saw pages blowing in the wind of handwritten letters between the court of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, who started the Arab revolt against the Turks for Lawrence of Arabia, and the Ottoman rulers of Baghdad.

Fisk also saw the Koranic library burning nearby, which includes one of the oldest surviving copies of the Koran.

He rushed to the offices of the Marines’ Civil Affairs Bureau. He gave the map location and said it would take only five minutes to drive there. Half an hour later, there wasn’t an American at the scene.

Meanwhile, nine British archaeologists published a letter in the London Guardian yesterday, charging that private collectors are persuading the Pentagon to relax legislation that protects Iraq’s heritage by prevention of sales abroad.

The Guardian reports Pentagon officials are denying accusations that the US government is succumbing to pressure from private collectors to allow plundered Iraqi treasures to be traded on the open market.

Months before the US-led invasion of Iraq, a coalition of wealthy American antiquities collectors met with defense and state department officials to discuss the fate of the country’s ancient artifacts.

Among other things they urged the Bush Administration to weaken Iraq’s strict antiquities laws make it easier for U.S. dealers to export Iraqi artifacts out of Iraq.

The main group behind this move was the recently formed, The American Council for Cultural Policy.

The group’s treasurer William Pealstein described Iraq’s laws as "retentionist."

But well established archaeological groups have strongly criticized these efforts.

The director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological said, "Iraqi antiquities legislation protects Iraq. The last thing one needs is some group of dealer-connected Americans interfering. Any change to those laws would be absolutely monstrous."

  • Andrew Lawler, the archaeology correspondent for Science Magazine.

Recent Shows More

Full News Hour

Stories

    Bn2015-0730_funhome3
    Alison Bechdel’s "Fun Home": The Coming-Out Memoir That Became a Hit Broadway Musical
    In a Democracy Now! special, we look at the acclaimed Broadway musical "Fun Home," which swept the Tony Awards last month. Composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist Lisa Kron made history as the first female duo to win a Tony Award for Best Original Score. "Fun Home" is also the first-ever Broadway musical to feature a lesbian protagonist. The musical is based on the 2006 best-selling graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic." The memoir is a poignant exploration of family, memory, first love,...

Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

This is viewer supported news