Cablegate: Tfiz01 -- Responding to the Looting of the Iraqi
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS KUWAIT 001405
DEPT FOR NEA LAROCCO PM BLOOMFIELD AND INL SIMONS
IRAQ TASK FORCE FOR PM ACTION TEAM
DOD FOR WOLFOWITZ
DOJ FOR SWARTZ AND ODAG/EONS JAMES MCATARMNEY
DEPARTMENT PASS NSC FOR SUZANNE MCCORMICK
FROM ORHA KUWAIT
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL MOPS IZ
SUBJECT: TFIZ01 -- RESPONDING TO THE LOOTING OF THE IRAQI
REF: Limbert-Larocco Telecon 4/13/03
1. NIACT immediate precedence required for action outside
normal working hours.
2. This is an action message.
2. US academic and military contacts indicate they are
hearing rumors that antiquities looted from the Baghdad
Iraqi Museum are already appearing on European markets.
Press reports that looters also destroyed records of museum
holdings suggest that there was an intention to move and
sell the most valuable items outside Iraq.
3. Stopping the loss of these priceless objects will take a
fast and concerted multi-agency and international effort.
We suggest the following immediate steps.
A. Coalition military authorities in Iraq should issue
a statement forbidding anyone, Iraqi or non-Iraqi, from
dealing in stolen antiquities. In the United States
the Attorney General and the US Customs Service should
make a similar announcement.
B. Coalition authorities should offer amnesty or reward
to those returning stolen objects, or records of such
objects. There should be rewards for those providing
information on the whereabouts of stolen material.
C. Coalition authorities should provide security for
remaining objects and for other high-value cultural
sites. Of special importance are gold items stored in
the National Bank building in Baghdad.
D. Coalition authorities should secure records at the
Ministry of Finance, where there may be duplicates of
the museum records.
E. Make an immediate contacts with Interpol, UNESCO,
and governments in art market centers to ensure that
any objects of Mesopotamian origin offered for sale on
the international art market without proof of
provenance will be considered to have been looted and
must be turned over to the Iraqi authorities -- with
rewards offered for items of special value or
G. Countries where there is an important international
art market should make public announcements similar to
that in A above.
4. Following is the suggested text of a public statement
that could be issued both in Iraq in the U.S.
The people of the United States value the archeological and
cultural heritage of Iraq that documents over 10,000 years
of the development of civilization. In recent days, the
National Museum in Baghdad has been looted as well as the
museum in Mosul and possibly archaeological sites and other
cultural institutions. Such looting causes irretrievable
loss to our understanding of history and the efforts of
Iraqi and international scholars to study and gain new
insight into our past.
Objects and documents taken from museums and sites are the
property of the Iraqi nation under Iraqi law. They are
therefore stolen property, whether found in Iraq or the
United States or other nations, and anyone knowingly
possessing or dealing in such objects is committing a crime
both in Iraq and in the United States. Such individuals may
be prosecuted under Iraqi law and under the United States'
National Stolen Property Act. The Iraqi people, as well as
members of the Coalition forces and others, are warned not
to handle these artifacts. In particular, Americans are
asked not to purchase or otherwise trade in such objects as
they belo0ng to the nation of Iraq and are stolen property.
5. POC in Kuwait is John Limbert, Office of Reconstruction
and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), mobile phone no. 965-968-
5674. Please slug cable responses for him.