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Saturday, June 07, 2003
Oh, you meant those antiquities
Remember those museum looting stories? They might have been a tad bit premature:
Almost all of the priceless items feared stolen from the Baghdad Museum when it was ransacked by looters have been found safe in a secret vault, the U.S.-led administration for Iraq said on Saturday.
A relative handful of items are still missing -- 3,000, compared with the 170,000 that were initially reported stolen -- but most, particularly some of the more valuable ones, were located.
Another trove of priceless jewelry, the Treasure of Nimrud, was found in a flooded Central Bank vault on Thursday.

The Nimrud artefacts, hundreds of gold and gem-studded pieces from the ancient kingdom of Assyria, were retrieved by U.S. investigators after the vaults below the gutted shell of the looted bank building were drained.

The treasures, discovered between 1988 and 1990 in ancient royal tombs below an Assyrian palace dating from the ninth century BC, had been feared lost. But U.S. investigators learned they had been placed in a central bank vault in the early 1990s, possibly to protect them during the 1991 Gulf War.

"They were never lost," acting Central Bank Governor Faleh Salman said. "We knew all along they were there. It just took a bit of time to get at them because of the flooding."
Good news, of course, for archeologists and historians. But more important, yet another lesson in why not to trust media frenzies. Not only were the items not stolen, but some of them had been hidden away a decade ago. Some suggested that this might have been the case, but they were drowned out by the voices attacking the U.S. Was the media deliberately lying? Probably not. They were just reckless. It fit their plotline -- mean ol' heartless Bush administration not caring about anything other than oil, letting other tragedies occur in pursuit of Bush's goals. So they didn't bother to stop and consider other possibilities.

We're seeing another example of the media piling on right now, with the lack of discoveries of weapons of mass destruction being cited as proof that Bush lied. Maybe they're right, or maybe we'll find out in a few months that they were hidden right before the regime fell, and some Iraqi will say, "We knew all along they were there."

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