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Thursday, April 17, 2003  
Expert resigns over ransacking of museum

Someone affiliated with the Bush administration actually cares that American troops nonchalantly stood by while an Iraqi antiquities museum was looted. The head of a U.S. presidential panel on cultural property is incensed. He was written a letter of resignation after serving on the panel eight years.

"It didn't have to happen," Martin Sullivan said of the objects that were destroyed or stolen from the Iraqi National Museum in a wave of looting that erupted as U.S.-led forces ended President Saddam Hussein's rule last week.

Gary Vikan, another member of the panel, has also said he will resign.

The history of the Fertile Crescent is particularly rich. Destruction of the artifacts is a loss to world history, not only the Middle East's.

The National Museum held rare artifacts documenting the early civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, and leading archeologists were meeting in Paris on Thursday to seek ways to rescue Iraq 's cultural heritage.

The Bush administration has been glaringly indifferent to the destruction of much of public Baghdad. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld denies the U.S., despite having engendered the chaos, had any responsibility to protect very significant buildings.

The insensitivity to the loss of priceless cultural artifacts is not limited to Washington. Here in Bloggersville, another Sullivan, Andrew, has dismissed the destruction of Baghdad as the celebratory fun in support of Hussein's downfall.

Martin Sullivan disagrees.

"Our priorities had a big gap," Sullivan told Reuters on Thursday. "In a pre-emptive war that's the kind of thing you should have planned for.

4:37 PM