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by Oui on Mon Jan 6th, 2020 at 06:38:30 AM EST
Their dismay turned to anger after they realized that no troops had been assigned to protect their ministries, and that there were no immediate plans to commit forces to guard "static sites." At the time, the only governemtn building protected by American troops, other than the Republican Palace, was the Ministry of Oil. Two weeks earlier, ORHA ministers had worked up a list of sites in Baghdad that needed security. Atop the list was the Central Bank. Then came the National Museum. The Oil Ministry was at the bottom. Weeks later, OHRA personnel discovered that the military had failed to transmit the list to ground commanders in Baghdad.

Even as the impact of the looting was becoming clear, ORHA could not prod the military into action. When Barbara Bodine, a veteran diplomat and Arabic speaker who was to become the interim mayor of Baghdad, got word from and Iraqi contact that looters were perilously close to breaking into a vault under the Central Bank that housed a priceless collection of Assyrian gold, she fired off an e-mail to the U.S. Central Command. The exchange, as she and a State Department official in Washington who was copied on the messages remember ti went something like this:

BODINE: The Assyrian vault under the Central Bank is in immediate danger of being looted. We need to get on this.
CENTCOM: What's in the Assyrian vault?
BODINE: Assyrian treasure.
CENTCOM: What's an Assyrian treasure?
BODINE: Go read the early chapters of your Bible. It's old stuff. It's realy, really valuable. We need to save it.
CENTCOM: Okay. We'll see ehat we can do.

There were no apologies from the military. Rumsfeld's war plan did not include enough troops to guard government installations in Baghdad and other major cities. Asked about the looting, he brushed it off with the now-famous phrase "Freedom's untidy." [Chandrasekaran: 41]

Life imitating art (1999)
by Cat on Thu Jan 9th, 2020 at 05:09:09 PM EST
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