Baghdad's Treasure: Lost To The Ages

Could the U.S. have stopped the looting of Iraq's priceless antiquities? The answer is not that simple

As they so often do these days, reporters gave Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld the third degree during a press conference last week. The subject was still Iraq, but this time the inquiries were about a cultural disaster unfolding in Baghdad. After sacking government buildings, stores and the homes of Baath Party officials, looters had turned to the Iraq Museum. Within hours the building appeared to have been emptied of its archaeological treasures--and the press wanted to know why U.S. forces hadn't anticipated and prevented it. Didn't they care about Iraq's cultural heritage? Of course they did, answered a somewhat cranky Rumsfeld,...