The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
TRANSCRIPTS
Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LIVE TODAY

Looting Destroys Prehistoric Iraqi Treasures

Aired April 15, 2003 - 11:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it appears that the major combat in Iraq may be over, but U.S. and coalition forces continue their search for Iraqi holdouts. And today, that search took them to a Baghdad hotel that serves as a base for international journalists.
CNN's Jim Clancy joins us now. He is standing by in the Iraqi capital with more on this story.

Hello -- Jim.

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello there, Leon. It was quite a wakeup call, I must say. I stepped into the hallway out of my hotel room, today, on the 17th floor, where I and some of the CNN staff are staying. And there was a 6-feet-3-inch Marine pointing an M-16 at me.

And my colleague down the hall, Linda Roth, had just gotten out of the shower. She answered a knock on the door, and she ran into the same thing.

I'm telling you. What a surprise. They had masks on, full gear. They were searching for people, and I put both of my hands up at that point.

Linda Roth -- holding a towel. Fortunately, she didn't put both of her hands up.

But they did pick up three men on the floor and took them in for questioning. We're not sure of the resolution of that case.

We've asked the Marines. What they said they're doing is scanning everything inside their perimeter to insure that there isn't any arms inside the perimeter, to ensure the safety of the hotel that's being used -- really -- as a communications center by the Marines at times, as well as the headquarters, if you will, for the international media.

Now, on another front, some disturbing questions remain about where is the security for the Iraq museum. It was looted. A very valuable museum in the entire world has been left in ruins, we are told, by the curators, all because of the looters, the insecurity that existed after the Marines took over this section of the city.

The news media saw for themselves the destruction inside a part of Iraq's national museum Tuesday and heard a renewed appeal for U.S. troops to come and secure what is left of one of the most valuable collections in the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps we can show you when they went through, and they have smashed some of the objects that were here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: The destruction of statues, tablets, and historic pieces -- some dating back thousands of years -- was readily apparent. So, too, the destruction of vital archives, photographs, and the entire history of the museum itself.

What is missing from the museum, what we can't show you, are priceless treasures.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was one of the most important -- and still one of the most important -- museums. It reveals the whole history of mankind -- from 500,000 B.C. till now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: Now that they have had a better look, archaeologists and members of the museum staff are increasingly convinced that at least some of those who broke in, or tried to break in here, knew exactly what they wanted to plunder from Iraq's history of civilization.

The looters broke down the museum's steel doors and passed through in their hundreds. Dr. Donny George held up evidence pointing to more than common thieves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DONNY GEORGE, IRAQI PREHISTORIAN: We found these. These were glass cutters. They had them with them. So this means there were some -- maybe -- professional ones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: Another point, the thieves passed over duplicates of Iraqi treasures now on display in other museums -- like the Louvre -- but hauled away priceless originals weighing, sometimes, hundreds of pounds. Throughout the ordeal, museum staff complained U.S. troops refused to intervene.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy went there, and there was an Arabic translator with them. He begged them to come to protect the Iraq museum. But nobody came.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: And nobody has come. Despite promises from U.S. officials -- all the way up to the secretary of state -- what is left of one of the most important museums in the world remained unprotected Tuesday.

Now the U.S. Marines say -- and they say it with some credibility -- it was impossible for them to protect every place in Baghdad. They simply didn't have the man power to do it.

At the same time, Iraqis point to this building -- Iraq's oil ministry. It was protected from day one. The oil ministry -- not a scratch on it. It was not looted. It was not affected. Many Iraqis -- bitterly at the museum, curators, and others -- pointing to this and saying it shows where U.S. priorities are.

But, Leon, it wasn't only the U.S. that came in for a lot of criticism. UNESCO, the Paris-based United Nations educational, scientific, and cultural organization had been -- they had pleaded with them to come, to monitor the situation, to have observers at the museum during the conflict. And it was described as cowardess, by some of the museum officials, saying they simply did not respond -- Leon.

HARRIS: That raises a lot of questions, Jim, no doubt.

But before we let you go, I have to ask you first off, though, to update us on those explosions that we saw behind you last hour. Have you been able to find out what was going on with that?

CLANCY: Yes, we have. They were controlled explosions. I had guessed that, Leon, and I was right.

They were blowing up ammunition. They call them controlled explosions here. It's along the banks of the Tigris River. That, they figure, is one of the safest places they can do it. It's alongside the presidential palace that featured so prominently here in the battle along the Tigris River, where even the Palestine Hotel was hit -- two journalists killed.

HARRIS: Gotcha. Thanks, Jim.

Jim Clancy reporting live for us from Baghdad.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.