Yesterday, the Associated Press ran a story under the headline, “Baghdad museum receives artifacts stolen from Iraq.” Again, the AP failed to point out that all the initial news reports on the museum being “emptied” were hideously incorrect.
Worse, the story hints that those widely reported wrong stories were right. The truth is, 95 percent of artifacts in the Iraq National Museum never left the museum buildings. And only 1 percent was “looted” after U.S. troops arrived in Baghdad.
Here’s how the AP reporters Bushra Juhi and Sameer N. Yacoub covered this newest report on Iraq museum artifacts:
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s National Museum on Sunday welcomed the return of more than 700 antiquities stolen during the chaos that followed the U.S.-led invasion five years ago.
Golden necklaces, daggers, clay statues, pots and other artifacts were displayed briefly during a ceremony attended by Syrian and Iraqi officials. Syrian authorities seized the items from traffickers over the years and handed custody last week to an Iraqi delegation in Damascus….
Looting broke out in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities following Saddam's ouster in April 2003. The museums were ransacked and thousands of items taken, dealing a harsh blow to collections that chronicled some 7,000 years of civilization in Mesopotamia including the ancient Babylonians, Sumerians and Assyrians….
The U.S. military was intensely criticized for not protecting the National Museum’s treasure of ancient relics and art in the weeks after Baghdad’s capture, when looters roamed the city looking for anything of value.
Thieves smashed or pried open row upon row of glass cases and pilfered — or just destroyed — their contents.
Sins of omission. Note what the AP leaves out of that story. How many items were in the Iraq museum to start with? 501,000. How many were stolen in April 2003? 15,000. How many were stolen before U.S. troops arrived? 10,000. Leaving how many “looted”? 5,000.
And what were most of those 5,000 missing pieces? Beads, amulets and tiny imprinting seals.
Yes, “the U.S. military was intensely criticized for not protecting the National Museum’s treasure of ancient relics and art.” The military was intensely criticized unfairly and without justification.
In April 2003, American Soldiers and Marines removed a totalitarian dictatorship from Baghdad, avoided Saddam’s snipers inside the Iraq museum and managed to protect 99 percent of the museum’s antiquities.
Report that for once.