Hey, I have a backpack…

The Single Backpack Theory

Frank Warner revisits the looted Iraqi museum story. He notes that Donny George, director of the Iraq National Museum, is sidestepping questions about the looting and about American apologies (or lack thereof) for not guarding the museum better as Iraq was being conquered.

George knows very well there was no failure by U.S. soldiers and Marines at the Iraq museum. He knows the much-ballyhooed emptying of the museum never happened.

Despite initial reports that 100 percent of the 170,000 inventoried lots of museum artifacts (501,000 pieces) were removed in looting April 10-12, 2003, the fact is that 95.11 percent — 95.11 percent — of those artifacts never left the museum.

George is aware of this, and so are most archaeologists who study the Middle East. They also are aware that another 1.79 percent of the museum pieces were stored safely elsewhere. So a total of 97.31 percent were always in Iraq museum custody.

The archaeologists know that 3.1 percent of the museum artifacts were indeed stolen from the museum. That’s 15,500 stolen pieces. And most of them — 10,300 beads, amulets and tiny imprinting seals — were stolen not by looters, but most probably by one or very few museum workers in an “inside job” using a hidden key to burglarize the museum even before the looting. All 10,300 of these stolen items could have been taken away in one large backpack.

It’s a long post with a lot of information, so go check it out. He put a lot of work into it and it deserves attention.

And I’d like to point out what I noted (back when we thought that the museum really had been looted) at the time:

Over at InstaPundit, Glenn Reynolds notices this:

The Marines found 123 prisoners, including five women, barely alive in an underground warren of cells and torture chambers. . . .

And thinks

Yeah, but why weren’t these Marines doing something important, like looking for lost antiquities?

Why is it that our soldiers, who rescued the prisoners from actual, real-life torture chambers instead of guarding museums which weren’t really looted anyway are referred to as being the equivalent of the Nazis?


  1. 97.31 percent were always in Iraq museum custody’ ‘3.1 percent of the museum artifacts were indeed stolen’ That adds up to more than 100%. Call me skeptical.

  2. The math error is easy to spot. 95.11 + 1.79 = 96.9, not 97.31. The correct remainder of 3.1 (100 – 96.9 = 3.1) is used in the next paragraph, so the conclusions (as least as the numbers go) are solid, just one bad piece of data entry.