clap clap blog: we have moved

Saturday, April 12, 2003
uh, guys, are you thinking about this at all?
Our friend and yours Tom Ellard, relays the following transcript from a SBS (Australia) broadcast. Most notable is the apparent fact that the only building US troops are actively guarding is...the Ministry of Oil. Ahem. While perhaps not entirely trustful (Rumsfeld--sorry no link--has chucklingly dismissed foreign reports such as this) it does regrettably line up with the official line that Marines are "keeping their distance," a strategy which has its cons (chaos) and pro (no suicide bombings). Today they are, apparently, trying to restore order, but the Iraqi museum was stripped of its artifacts and destroyed within 48 hours. On the bright side, Congress passed a US$79bil war budget!!! Sigh. Anyway, here's the transcript:


The United States is facing mounting pressure tonight to restore order to
Iraq, with Baghdad a city where anarchy reigns in the power vacuum that's
followed the demise of the Saddam Hussein regime. The joy over his downfall
has succumbed to lawlessness, in which any target appears fair game to the

It's not just government buildings and commercial premises that have been
attacked. The Red Cross has called on coalition troops to protect hospitals
after vital medical equipment was stolen. Museums containing irreplaceable
ancient relics have also been targeted. There's also been more looting at
Mosul in the north. And in southern Basra, British marines shot dead five
looters. Our first report on the chaos in the capital, Baghdad.

Baghdad residents, dealing with a would-be looter, bent on plundering their
homes. He escapes with his life. Caught on the street, this one was killed.
In this neighbourhood, armed vigilantes detain another man. Beaten to the
ground, he was almost shot - tonight his fate is unknown.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Where is the Americans? This is what America wants it to
be? Everybody is stealing and looting from everybody.

It's mob rule now in Baghdad. Saddam's police state has been reduced to a
state of anarchy. In the absence of his feared security forces, and the
ever-present threat of imprisonment and torture, the streets belong to
thieves. Everything is being stripped - unguarded shops and homes,
commercial buildings, government offices, museums - even the city's
hospitals. Stripped bare, the ministry of trade is one of many buildings set
alight. The transport ministry is a gutted ruin. Alerted by the
International Red Cross that its warehouse was being looted, US troops react
ed - too late. Little wonder that the organisation is appealing tonight to
the coalition to restore order. The troops say they're doing what they can.

CAPTAIN JOEL PLENZER, US MARINES: What we've done so far, we've secured
certain key areas around the city, for instance this morning we were able to
turn the International Red Cross building back over to the people that own
it, the UN compound - we secured several other areas like that, hospitals
and things like that we're providing security to - so right now we're in the
transition phase between the regime having control and the coalition forces
fully having control in the city.

Local mosques are also trying to stop the looting. This banner reminds
residents that "looting is forbidden under Islam". But the looters reign and
disillusionment is setting in.

IRAQI MALE: There is no security here. This is not freedom, this. Where are
the coalition forces?

SECOND IRAQI MALE: We need police, police to get safety, security in the

"Everything they're stealing belonged to someone," says this man. "This is
such a shame. It's a sin. If only we could have Saddam to come back. Every
day, we will remember Saddam." At the Al Rashid hotel, one of the city's
landmarks, as looters scrambled to remove everything, troops stood by as it
was systematically carted away - by the tonne. Elsewhere in the city, other
US troops were busy breaking up a statue of Saddam Hussein, removing the
head for a trophy.

CAPTAIN JOEL PLENZER, US MARINES: I've got to show that I was here, that I
was part of it all.

And tonight, while the Ministry of Oil is intact, guarded by US troops,
fires are raging in many ransacked buildings. Some reports say that even the
city's hospitals are now burning."