THE BAGHDAD MUSEUM LOOTING: SOME MORE THOUGHTSAugust 20, 2008
Colonel Metthew Bogdanos' (USMC) book, Thieves of Baghdad is the account of the official U.S. military investigation of the looting of the Baghdad Museum. While normally I would not use my site to review a book, in this case I think the subject is significant enough to warrant posting my thoughts, for in this case, there are a number of things in this book that tend to support my thesis that someone was fully prepapred prior to the U.S. invasion and occupation of that country to steal priceless artifacts - including cuneiform tablets - that contained esoteric knowledge of ancient high science that the "powers that be" wish to monopolize for themselves and to keep from public scrutiny.
Bogdanos indicates that some of the thieves had obvious prior knowledge of the layout of the museum, its various collections, and the most valuable objects (q.v. pp. 5-7, 10-11, 20, 158, 195, 213, 215, 277-278). These thieves were one of three types of patterns Bogdanos uncovered in the looters (pp. 212-213, 214-215). These three were (1) professionals, (2) insiders, and (3) plain old off the street opportunistic looters (p. 213). Regarding both professionals and insiders, it is clear that Bogdanos considers only the possbility that smuggling and trafficking in Black Market antiquities was the motivation for the crimes. He does not ever entertain the possibility that someone was looking to secure the ancient knowledge, science, and technology that some of those artifacts may have contained, as I have averred in numerous talk show appearances (see p. 216 for the "smuggling model").
There are some indicators, however, and in Bogdanos' own words, that the esoteric agenda cannot be entirely discounted as a possibility. The first of these is that the cataloging system of the Iraq Museum was quite antiquated and apparently not centralized, leaving many of the more recently acquired objects uncataloged (pp. 2-3, 15, 126, 134, 136). Only later does Bogdanos hit upon the idea of using the excavation site catalogues to reconstruct an inventory of missing items (pp. 134, 136, 158). Indeed, one of the most significant interceptions that Bogdanos' team made was of cuneiform tablets near the Iraq-Iran border, though he does not specify if these tablets were on his reconstructed list from excavation catalogues or not (p. 158). The fact that he does not specify this leaves open the possibility that some of the thefts were indeed motivated by a desire of some hidden group to recover estoeric lost knowledge and science preserved in those tablets, if indeed they contained anything that might be interpreted along my paleophysics model.
The second indicator that allows this possible interpretation of the motivation of some of the thieves is Bogdanos' own reconstruction of the timeline (pp. 203-208, 211-212), which allowed for a narrow window of opportunity for a professional team to retrieve objects (pp. 205-207). As Bogdanos points out, Dr. Chalabi observed that some items "may have been bought or sold as part of a long-standing arrangement. He was probably right. They could have been ordered on the heels of the First Gulf War, with patient theives waiting for the right moment." (p. 215) Once this is admitted as a possibility, then this implies two further things:
(1) Long-range planning and preparation, that includes by logical necessity of the case an analysis of long-term U.S. policy goals for the region and the likelihood of the probability of another U.S. invasion and subsequent semi-permanent occupation of the country; and,
(2) it requires a long-term on-the-ground presence of a team in Iraq with the knowledge and skills to pull it off when the moment presented itself, as well as a "shopping list" of items to be "recovered." While corporate syndicates or organized crime might be able to sustain such a presence in Iraq, it is far more likely in my opinion to have been intelligence agents operating as part of the archaeological excavation teams themselves.
These two considerations lead to the third argument that some of the looting may have been due to intelligence operatives. If so, then the question arises as to whose service it may have been conducting the thefts. Three possibilities present themselves:
(1) America: After the First Gulf War it would have been logical for the U.S.A. to increase the human intelligence (HUMINT) levels of on-the-ground intelligence operatives in Iraq. This could have been done in part by infiltration into archaeological teams, although this would not have granted easy access to monitoring the Baathist regime's military. In favor of this interpretation is the fact that some European media reported that U.S. soldiers were involved in some of the looting (pp. 115, 200), though as Bogdanos points out there is little evidence to sustain this view (p. 200). If true, however, then the possibility must also be entertained that it may have been a false-flag operation, with the perpetrators wearing American uniforms to shift responsibility away from the ultimate origin of the crime.
(2) The Baathist Party itself: as noted above, many factors of the crimes suggested conclusively both professionalism and an "inside job," the perpetrators having detailed knowledge of the museum layout, inventory, and security. The most logical candidate in possession of such knowledge is, of course, elements of the Baathist Party itself. In this respect, there is corroborating secondary evidence to suggest that the Baathist regime and indeed Saddam Hussein himself viewed the Iraq Museum as a kind of Baathist version of Himmler's SS Ahnenerbedienst (pp. 139-140, 16-17). Given Hussein's own fascination with Adolf Hitler (p. 16), it could hardly have escaped his attention that as dictator of Iraq, he was in a position to create the "Mother of all Ahnenerbediensten".
That said, however, there is one factor that mitigates against this view, and that is that if the Baathist Party was involved, it would be difficult to maintain ultimate control over any tablets or knowledge thus gained, much less to develop it without a much larger internationalized party structure, safe havens, research centers, and the experts to do it. There is little evidence to suggest that Hussein's regime or party undertook any such parallel to Martin Bormann's "strategic Evacuation Plan," other than persistent allegations that some of Hussein's arsenal went to nearby Syria. If indeed elements of the regime were behind the looting, then most likely they were acting as agents for some other entity or group, and could have, once again, done so as a "false flag" operation.
(3) The third possibility that has always suggested itself to me - and it is at first glance a quite astonishing one - is Germany: This possibility must, I believe, be entertained for a variety of reasons: (a) the long German archaeological interest in the region; (b) the heavy involvement of German archaeological excavation teams in Iraq at the behest of Hussein's government, which would have given them access to the excavation catalogues - after all, they were compiling some of them! - and hence to a degree of "inside knowledge;" (c) the heavy HUMINT presence of the German BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) in Iraq before, during, and after the invasion; and, (d) the fact that it was the German media that first reported U.S. soldiers were involved in the looting.
In the final analysis, while there is little direct evidence for this scenario in Bogdanos' book and little reason to suggest that Bogdanos is deliberately misrepresenting the situation, by the same token there is little evidence in his book that can conclusively exclude the scenario suggested here. In fact, the scenario suggested here fits very well the few specific facts Bogdanos does offer in his book about a crime that remains, for all intents and purposes, very ill-reported by the media.