Friday, October 3, 2008

Lara Logan of CBS News: Cultural Property Criminal?

Those who do not like Lara Logan's reporting, her politics, her personal life or, perhaps her notoriety are making a big deal about the fact that she has displayed some portraits of Saddam Hussein from Iraq in her office. Now, apparently Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") is gettting into the act. See: It is not helping Ms. Logan's cause that the Feds earlier came down hard on a Fox News engineer for smuggling similar paintings from Iraq. Apparently, questions are being raised about "double standards."

Hopefully, ICE will close the books on its investigation soon. It should be clear to anyone who has actually read the governing legislation authorizing import restrictions on Iraqi cultural artifacts that it was not really meant to apply to modern artifacts, despite the fact that the State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (("ECA") has, in its infinite wisdom, applied import restrictions to modern Iraqi art. (The governing statute, the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, only provides for restrictions on archaeological objects over 250 years old and ethnological objects, which are typically not the products of modern societies.)
I suppose that ICE could also be making the claim that the portraits taken from bombed out buildings were stolen "Iraqi Government Property," but before doing so, one would hope ICE agents would first search all the offices in the Pentagon and State Department to make sure no similar souvenirs are hanging on the walls.

1 comment:

Cultural Property Observer said...

Dorothy King, aka "PhDiva," has also blogged about this story. Dorothy notes that Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, was caught up in a similar fuss over a cigar box found in Tariq Aziz's house:

This incident was perhaps even more ridiculous because Aziz had indicated that Johnson was free to keep it!