Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What's Wrong with ECA Transparency?

One would think that the AIA, the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI), SAFE and its Bloggers Gill, Elkins and Barford would join the ACCG, IAPN, and PNG, several members of Congress, several former CPAC members and certain media outlets in pressing for greater ECA transparency when it comes to how the State Department handles requests for import restrictions on cultural artifacts. After all, as Mr. Kislak states in his declaration, if the State Department ECA worked in a more transparent manner, the quality of information provided to CPAC can only be improved. In addition, when a system is open and transparent, those who don't like a given result will be more likely to accept it. Thus, it would seem to be a "no brainer" that transparency would appear to be in every one's best interest.

Though critical of the ACCG-IAPN-PNG lawsuit, Bloggers Gill, Elkins and Barford have not yet really explained what is wrong with the State Department releasing detailed information about foreign requests for import restrictions and the CPAC reports themselves once a decision has been made. Certainly, in the past, the State Department has prepared at least one "public summary" of the Chinese request for import restrictions and has also released other CPAC reports, including one related to Italy. Doesn't that in itself raise questions about why the State Department first ignored the ACCG-IAPN-PNG FOIA requests (in some cases for years) and then has fought the release of similar information, particularly related to the Cypriot request?

Could it be that its release will just confirm that the controversial decision to change existing precedent with respect to coins was based on little more than blatant cronyism involving former Undersecretary of State Burns, Cultural Heritage Center ED Maria Kouroupas, CAARI, and other archaeological interests? See;

Could such information being made public only raise deeper questions about the incestuous relationship between Cultural Heritage Center staff and advocates for the archaeological community, including an "advisor" for SAFE? See, e.g.: and and

Could fear that openness will "end the party" help explain the motives for SAFE associated Bloggers attacking the ACCG-IAPN-PNG effort to force ECA transparency through a FOIA lawsuit?


1 comment:

Wayne G. Sayles said...

Very strange, isn't it? The academic community, on the whole, heavily criticized the Bush Administration for a lack of transparency and embraced President Obama's call for broad disclosures of information to the public. Now that the U.S. State Department is being pressed in court to lift its veil of secrecy, those mentioned above seem to have focused their criticism toward those who seek the truth rather than those who hide it. Is it possible that the principle itself means nothing to them and their reactions are merely issue driven expediencies?