Thursday, May 03, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- May 3rd edition

Mary 3, 2006: Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division search a home near Sadr City.

May 3, 2002:

Bringing a long-lost library back to life

More than 2,500 years after the fiery destruction of the world's first major library, Iraqi scholars are hoping to see a Mesopotamian phoenix rise from the ashes.

Work is slated to start soon on a research centre and museum at Mosul University devoted to the study of cuneiform, the wedge-shaped writing system used across Mesopotamia for three millennia.

Scholars argue that the new centre, dubbed the Saddam Institute after Iraq's president, could leave a lasting legacy if it were to encourage preservation and cataloging of the thousands of tablets languishing in the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, as well as prepare for an onslaught of new ones.

Read the rest at Science & Development

May 3, 2003:

Bush: We'll find banned weapons in Iraq

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) — President Bush said Saturday it is a matter of when — not if — weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq while suggesting that task is getting little help from Saddam Hussein's captured confederates.

"We'll find them," Bush said of Iraq's suspected chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. "It'll be a matter of time to do so."

Iraq's alleged possession of such weapons was Bush's main rationale for war, but none has been found since Saddam's government fell more than three weeks ago.

Read the rest at USA Today

May 3, 2004:

Iraq prison abuse puts spotlight on contractors

Private contractors working for the U.S. military in Iraq are again at the center of controversy, this time over allegations civilian interrogators may have been involved in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

The military is relying more and more on private contractors to do its work in Iraq and elsewhere that previously was done by the military, including the use of civilians to interrogate Iraqi prisoners.

Until now, scandals involving contractors focused largely on bribery, corruption and costs, but experts said the possible abuse of prisoners posed ethical and moral questions over who should be trusted with such sensitive work.

Pictures of U.S. soldiers abusing and humiliating prisoners inside Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, including piling them up naked and hooded, have been broadcast worldwide.

An internal Army report about abuse at Abu Ghraib prison exposed by the New Yorker magazine, named two employees from Virginia-based company CACI International Inc as being involved.

Read the rest at Forbes

May 3, 2005:

Old brutality among new Iraqi forces

BAGHDAD — Iraqi special forces soldiers Ali Jabbar and Mohammed Ali insist they mete out justice fairly. They beat only the prisoners they know did something wrong, not the innocent ones.

In March, when a rocket attack on one of their bases missed the target but angered the soldiers, they searched the area and found two suspects.

"You want to know the truth? My arms are still tired from hitting those guys," laughs Mr. Jabbar in an interview along with Mr. Ali in Baghdad.

Throughout the war in Iraq, the brutality of the battlefield has occasionally spilled into interrogation rooms and prisons. The central figure in the Abu Ghraib prison-abuse scandal, Pfc. Lynndie England, pleaded guilty Monday to seven counts of mistreating prisoners.

But with Iraqis taking a greater role in battling the insurgency and patrolling their own streets as the new government begins work, accusations of human rights abuses are shifting away from the Americans and onto Iraqi police officers and soldiers.

The accusations of abuse range from reports of prisoner torture and death of detainees to the arbitrary arrest and abuse at the hands of inexperienced and untrained police officers.

Jabbar told the Monitor that during a raid he was on in January at a suspected insurgent hideout, three detainees died after being severely beaten by Iraqi security patrols.

Read the rest at USA Today

May 3, 2006:

Looted relics inflame scholars' ethics debate

Inscribed on Sumerian clay tablets more than 4,000 years ago, the Code of Ur-Nammu may be the earliest known recorded set of laws in the world: dozens of rules written in cuneiform about commerce and taxes, family law and inheritance.

But many scholars will not go near the one largely intact version of the code, and the top American journal of cuneiform research will not publish articles about it. The reason? The tablet was bought by a private Norwegian collector on the open market and does not come from a documented, scientific excavation. According to the ethics policies of the leading associations for antiquities scholars, that means it is off limits.

As scholars grapple with the reality that a growing number of important works - like the Ur-Nammu tablet and the recently unveiled Gospel of Judas - lack a clear provenance, those ethics policies are the focus of heated debate...

Lending momentum to the debate is growing evidence that, amid the havoc of the American invasion of Iraq, Iraqi sites have been looted on an industrial scale. Many experts worry that the market will be flooded by vast numbers of unprovenanced cuneiform tablets and other objects: illicit finds that, in theory, should not be published.

Read the rest at the International Herald Tribune