In the cable, Amb. John Limbert, a former Iran hostage who had been tapped to deal with Iraq's cultural ministry after the expected cakewalk, writes on April 13. The museum had been looted between April 10 and April 12, when Donny George and other Iraqis returned and drove out the looters. Limbert writes from Kuwait, weeks after the invasion began, having been denied, along with most other post-war reconstruction officials, the chance to go into Iraq along with the military.
In addition to the important call to issue offers of amnesty for return of stolen items and to define looted antiquities as stolen property, Limbert urged that
Coalition authorities should provide security for
remaining objects and for other high-value cultural
Limbert might have been more forceful had he written instead that "coalition authorities should provide security for remaining objects AT THE MUSEUM" but his point is clear: the museum itself needs to be secured.
Who received this message?
EPT FOR NEA LAROCCO PM BLOOMFIELD AND INL SIMONS
IRAQ TASK FORCE FOR PM ACTION TEAM
DOD FOR WOLFOWITZ
DOJ FOR SWARTZ AND ODAG/EONS JAMES MCATARMNEY
DEPARTMENT PASS NSC FOR SUZANNE MCCORMICK
That would be, then:
a) from the State Department: James Larocco, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East, 2001-2004; Lincoln Bloomfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs from 2001-2005; and (probably) Paul E. Simons, then acting assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs. Simons was one of three State Department officials to write a memo in February 2003 warning that there were major gaps in the military's postwar planning. Suzanne McCormick's status at that point is unclear, but she later became Director of the Office of Intelligence Operations at the NSC.
b) from the Justice Department: Bruce Swartz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division in charge of international issues, with duties that include interacting with foreign governments on counterterrorism and criminal justice issues. Like McAtarmney, another lawyer, they are probably on the list to push the legal angles.
Policy players all, but not as far up the policy food chain as Paul Wolfowitz, who needs no introduction. He could, one assumes, have picked up the phone and ordered the museum to be secured immediately. But he probably had his hands full with other matters at this point, and it was to be another three days before a tank crew finally arrived at the museum on April 16, 2003.