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Jules is a thief.
April 23, 2003 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Jules is a thief. The fact that "all the embedded reporters were doing it" does not make it right. Presumably the US soldiers who were overseeing the embedded reporters knew of this kind of cultural theft -- more than likely, many were a party to it themselves. I'm sending him an email to remind him of that fact, and I will also contact his bosses, urging disciplinary action.
posted by insomnia_lj (42 comments total)

 
Its all the rage now.

I guess Uday's panther on black velvet won't be hanging up in Rupert Murdoch's secret grotto anytime soon.
posted by skallas at 12:05 PM on April 23, 2003


If "all the embedded reporters were doing it", it explains why the press wasn't "all over" the early reports of theft.
posted by jpoulos at 12:06 PM on April 23, 2003


more than likely, many [of the the US soldiers] were a party to it themselves.

Yes, they were.
posted by gluechunk at 12:22 PM on April 23, 2003


This kind of theft makes me sick. We bomb a country into submission and then steal all their cultural artifacts. There is no difference between this reporter and the people that looted the Baghdad museum. The loss is irreplaceable. We have done nothing for the Iraqi people. Instead of protecting their priceless cultural artifacts, we station our troops at oil wells. We protect our interests, which are short sided and transparent, while neglecting the interests of humanity as a whole.

But I guess it's ok because everyone else is doing it too. If by everyone else you mean the minority of the world that actually gives support to this "war".
posted by rift2001 at 12:22 PM on April 23, 2003


From the article: It is U.S. policy that all such items belong to the Iraqi people.

Except when the US burns them, blows them up and US military soldiers deface them. Or when the Iraqi people try and take them out of the now-defunct regimes palaces. Which one of the "Iraqi people" gets the gold-plated MP5?

I don't really see what the big deal is. So some US reporters in a place in a state of anarchy grabbed some paintings of Saddam and palace furnishings worth small amounts of money in order to keep as souvenirs. It happens in every war - our grandfathers stole the pocket money, weapons, equipment, boots, food, clothes, medals, personal effects and books of the German Army. If they were taking huge sums of money, like the GIs below, that would be a problem, but let's face it, the presence or absence of a few pictures of Saddam and his forks is unlikely to really matter to anyone.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:23 PM on April 23, 2003


Um, Crittenden is a Herald reporter. Boston.com is owned by the Globe, so contacting them won't help.
posted by transona5 at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2003


"Crittenden is a Herald reporter."

Quite right. Mia culpa.

The Herald can be reached at letterstoeditor@bostonherald.com, via their web form, or can be faxed at 617-542-1315 .
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:40 PM on April 23, 2003


I'm sending him an email to remind him of that fact, and I will also contact his bosses, urging disciplinary action.

The MetaFilter front page: your one-stop source for information on what insomnia_lj intends to do.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:59 PM on April 23, 2003


For thousands of years, soldiers of all nations raped, pillaged, and stole their way through the countries they conquered. Now that rape and pillage are frowned on, plunder is the only fringe benefit left for soldiers and embedded reporters. Are you going to deny them that? Man, next thing you know we'll be outlawing killing during war.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:11 PM on April 23, 2003


insomnia_lj: you said Crittendend committed "cultural theft." Do you know what it was that he stole, besides that it included a painting of 5 ft and some kitchen items?
posted by shoos at 1:14 PM on April 23, 2003


For any who might be interested, I found the direct email address for the Boston Herald editor. It is acostello@bostonherald.com.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:14 PM on April 23, 2003


For any who might be interested, I found the direct email address for the Boston Herald editor. It is acostello@bostonherald.com

Isn't there something a bit more worthwhile that you could direct your righteous indignation towards, other than trying to get this guy fired for taking some trinkets and a painting?

Far worse things are happening every day in Iraq. In the overall scheme of things, this like a fart in a shitstorm.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:28 PM on April 23, 2003


err, "is like"..
posted by SweetJesus at 1:29 PM on April 23, 2003


What I hate (and I mean hate) is this guy's excuse - "everyone else is doin' it." Spineless, conformist thief with no ethical standing.

Here's a question - if the embedded journalists are looting, what are the soldiers supposedly escorting them doing?

shoos: The painting in and of itself should be considered a cultural artifact. I highly doubt that the various portraits now hanging in museums were considered cultural artifacts at the time. After all - who painted it? Do you think that Iraqi artists are somehow beneath notice?

Pseudoephedrine: Think the Nazis thought that when they ransacked occupied countries for their artwork? "Gee, it's just off a dead Jew - who's going to miss it?" The "big deal" is that he wasn't taking the personal effects of someone he just killed (which is friggin' bad enough, AFAIC), but that he looted someone else's house and took what he thought would be cool to bring back. We're supposedly liberating these folks; it'd be nice if we left them more than just the clothes on their backs.
The statement, "the presence or absence of a few pictures of Saddam and his forks is unlikely to really matter to anyone", is simply untrue. Look how much effort we took to televise the destruction of statues and pictures of Saddam Hussein - just as the destruction of those images was symbolic, so too is the theft of Iraqi property by American and British occupying personnel while pushing the message of "we're here for you; we're at war with Saddam, not the Iraqi people."

Sheesh. We bomb the crap out of them, destroy their government, divvy up the larger spoils among coalition corporations, then watch individuals walk off with whatever they can carry (with impunity, I might add, since this guy won't be prosecuted because he didn't take anything "valuable".) I'm disgusted.
posted by FormlessOne at 1:35 PM on April 23, 2003


rift2001: "cultural artifacts"??
we're talking about airbrush and velvet here, not the mona lisa.
posted by car_bomb at 1:37 PM on April 23, 2003


SweetJesus: Nope. Even a little victory, like getting an unethical reporter canned, is still worthwhile. I'll keep working on the big stuff and the small stuff alike.

Why is it that when someone steals "some trinkets and a painting" here, you go to jail, but stealing it there is somehow acceptable? I steal on the job, I get fired - this isn't even a question. He stole on the job; he should be fired. Where's the friggin' debate on this one?
posted by FormlessOne at 1:40 PM on April 23, 2003


give FOX and o'rielly your opinion of them and their cameramen.

oreilly@foxnews.com
posted by specialk420 at 1:42 PM on April 23, 2003


I just emailed acostello@bostonherald.com and told him to ignore the idiot who just emailed him about the guy who stole a painting that was "not valuable enough to merit prosecution."
posted by bondcliff at 1:47 PM on April 23, 2003


Why is it that when someone steals "some trinkets and a painting" here, you go to jail, but stealing it there is somehow acceptable? I steal on the job, I get fired - this isn't even a question. He stole on the job; he should be fired. Where's the friggin' debate on this one?

The friggin' debate is where you're going to single out and crucify this one guy based on one story from a rival newspaper (I lived in Boston for 18 years).

If someone steals some trinkets and a painting here (USA), they get a trial, not internet mob justice based on speculation.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:48 PM on April 23, 2003


If someone steals some trinkets and a painting here (USA), they get a trial, not internet mob justice based on speculation.

You're very subtly comparing Apples and Oranges here. Whether he keeps his job or not is not a legal matter. If he no longer appeals to subscribers because of his offensive actions, then he could and should be fired.

Why the US Customs and law give a break to someone who doesn't steal over $15,000 is another debate entirely.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:00 PM on April 23, 2003


SweetJesus: I'm not singling him out - he's just as much of a thief as the Fox News engineer walking off with a dozen paintings or the soldiers squirrelling away millions in discovered cash for later pickup (or that chowderhead posing in a fur on this link.)
I'm not crucifying him, either - he's an admitted thief (is there a debate as to whether or not he took these items from Iraq, without paying for them or offering some other form of compensation?) who stole while he was on the job. If I admitted to stealing something while on the job, I'd be fired, especially if I still had the damn merchandise. And it'd be deserved, too.

As for the trial bit, you're absolutely right - people who steal in the USA get a trial. Where's the trial for this guy? He's not even going to be charged with a crime, because after all, he stole it from somewhere in another country with which we are at war. That's why I'm irritated - not that this guy's a jerk, but that this guy's just one of many who will get special treatment because stealing from the Iraqis isn't viewed as "real" theft.

Who cares that a rival newspaper broke the store - did this rival newspaper lie about him? If not, then it's fairly cut and dried - he stole stuff. You steal a quarter, it's still theft - I don't give a rat's bollocks that the stuff he stole was not considered valuable. He still stole stuff.

Again, I say - where's the friggin' debate?
posted by FormlessOne at 2:34 PM on April 23, 2003


BTW, regarding that link - my favorite quote:

"Many soldiers also told The Post that they believe some of the found millions should have been used to give a "bonus" to the troops who won this war.

Failing that, they say, it should help pay for the war and the costs of policing occupied Iraq."


I'm disgusted and appalled. Last time I checked, that money could easily pay for a lot of reconstruction and aid. "Sure - let's bomb them and take whatever cash we find laying around as spoils of war! Serves them right for having forced us to come here, blow them up, then police the country!"

It's stuff like this that wrongly pigeonholes Americans as greedy and selfish in the eyes of the world.
posted by FormlessOne at 2:39 PM on April 23, 2003


that he looted someone else's house and took what he thought would be cool to bring bac

It's a picture of Saddam and some forks, almost certainly from one of Saddam's palaces. You seem to be under the impression the reporter clubbed some Arab over the head and made off with his silverware. The Iraqis themselves are looting Saddam's palaces - I doubt they'd mind a Western reporter taking a painting of him back to the West as a souvenir when they're smashing and burning the things themselves.

Why is it that when someone steals "some trinkets and a painting" here, you go to jail, but stealing it there is somehow acceptable?

Because here we have rule of law and there, they are in a state of anarchy. Where there are no laws, there are no crimes, because crimes are merely violations of the law. Therefore, it's silly to talk about this reporter, or anyone else in Iraq at the moment, committing "crimes", except insofar as the US Gov tries to limit the actions of its citizens overseas by threatening punishment for certain actions they may have committed in the destination country if they return to the US.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 2:42 PM on April 23, 2003


car bomb: no they are not the mona lisa. but they are not ours either. they are the creation of iraqis who lived under saddam hussein for years. they are not the mona lisa, but they are artifacts from the era of saddam hussein. therefore, i consider them cultural artifacts.

also, i was more talking about our complacency with the situation at the iraqi museum. that is unforgivable. i feel we are responsible. when we invaded iraq we became responsible for peace keeping in iraq, which is more than guarding the oil wells. if the military were to do its job, this jackass would not have been able to steal the art he stole, and countless other artifacts would still be in iraq.
posted by rift2001 at 2:51 PM on April 23, 2003


So, theft is ok?
I'm confused, what's the debate. Send him a nasty email if you like. Why not.
posted by Outlawyr at 3:11 PM on April 23, 2003


Pseudoephedrine: Couple of floated strawmen:

- I didn't imply anything of the sort. What I explicitly stated was that he stole stuff. I couldn't care less if the Iraqis are doing it too, or if it was just laying around. Mob mentality may mitigate the considerations of punishment for a crime, but not the fact that a crime occurred. I'm certain that other Iraqi looters wouldn't mind another looter - that's like saying that in a gang rape, no one minds more rapist, and somehow that rapist is OK with participation.
As for stuff laying around, my barbecue grill is just sitting on my front porch - hell, my mailbox doesn't even sit on my property. Does taking either of those items constitute theft?
Besides, I seriously doubt the painting cut itself out of its frame. Since this guy was an embedded journalist, what do you think the soldiers with whom he was attached were doing? I don't think it was stopping the looting and pillaging, that's for sure.

- Are you seriously implying that, as long as there's no law, it's OK to loot and pillage? And that, because he didn't do it here, there's no harm done? That implies a serious breach of ethical judgement.
Even if the Iraqi government is in a state of chaos, we still have laws. Other U.S. personnel, especially when they're on-the-job, are just as accountable for their actions overseas as they are here. We're supposed to be liberating these folks - serving as some form of model for behavior, I thought, might be part of the package.
Even if law wasn't a consideration, ethics should have been. Ethics are, like character, demonstrated by what one does when no one is looking, and this journalist demonstrated his when he stole stuff.

Again - where's the friggin' debate?
posted by FormlessOne at 3:12 PM on April 23, 2003


I thought they were looking for WMD.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:34 PM on April 23, 2003



I thought they were looking for WMD.


OJ is still out there searching for the real killers everyday.
posted by thirteen at 3:40 PM on April 23, 2003


Yes, I'm missing the debate. Even though worse things are certainly happening in Iraq, the fact is that this guy stole stuff.

He didn't even lie about it--he admitted to stealing the shit and said "Oh, everyone else was doing it."

If one of my employees went on a business trip and stole stuff, I would want to know about it. Even if the stuff was *worth less than $15,000*.

After all "not a high enough value to prosecute" here doesn't mean "an ashtray with Saddam's picture on it." It means *worth less than $15,000*. Conceivably, the crap this guy took could be worth more than the annual per-capita income of an Iraqi or two. Or three, for that matter.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:54 PM on April 23, 2003


"cultural artifacts"??
we're talking about airbrush and velvet here, not the mona lisa.


Just because it's a tacky culture doesn't mean it's not a culture.
posted by nyxxxx at 3:59 PM on April 23, 2003


Appalling behavior.

Isn't there something a bit more worthwhile that you could direct your righteous indignation towards, other than trying to get this guy fired for taking some trinkets and a painting?

Far worse things are happening every day in Iraq. In the overall scheme of things, this like a fart in a shitstorm.


Would you feel this way if the police took some "trinkets" from your house during a "routine search?" Or the Cops reporter who accompanied them? Wrong is wrong. You may not care to take a stand against it, but to ridicule someone who IS willing to is [flame deleted by author].
posted by rushmc at 4:20 PM on April 23, 2003


Just because it's a tacky culture doesn't mean it's not a culture.

Howabout we don't beg the question?
posted by shoos at 5:05 PM on April 23, 2003


I just emailed oreilly@foxnews.com and told him I'm his #1 fan, and invited him to join the fun here at metafilter.
posted by shoos at 5:08 PM on April 23, 2003


Had he not stolen the painting, it would have been destroyed. I say he saved it.

Comparing this to police during a raid is hardly fair. He didn't force his way into an occupied house and remove the items under the nose of the tenants. He took the items from an abandoned building (assumed) during a war. What if the items had been lying in the road or strewn across the desert? Are there acceptions to this claim of stealing?
posted by Witty at 5:14 PM on April 23, 2003


Are there acceptions to this claim of stealing?

I accept that he stole the painting. Is that what you mean?

He didn't force his way into an occupied house and remove the items under the nose of the tenants.

Hello response, meet the post that you presume to be addressing:

Would you feel this way if the police took some "trinkets" from your house during a "routine search?" Or the Cops reporter who accompanied them?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 6:04 PM on April 23, 2003


I didn't imply anything of the sort

I wholeheartedly agree you implied nothing of the sort. You out-right said it when you said "he looted someone else's house". If by "someone else" you mean "the agents of the Ba'athist government" and by "house" you mean "palace or government office" and by looted you mean "took a picture of Saddam and some kitchenware in the middle of widespread looting", then yes, he "looted someone else's house", but to say so is nothing more than a euphemism obscuring the circumstances.

Are you seriously implying that, as long as there's no law, it's OK to loot and pillage? And that, because he didn't do it here, there's no harm done?

Not at all. I said that because there are no laws in Iraq, what he did could not have been "illegal". Theft is fairly precisely defined as "taking or making use or depriving another of property without colour of right to do so". The lack of a government means that no one has "colour of right", and therefore, theft, in a legal sense, cannot occur in Iraqi. Therefore to consider him as a thief is histrionic at best.

Even if the Iraqi government is in a state of chaos, we still have laws

Indeed, America does. You'll notice though, that persons in other countries tend not to obey them. That is because they are American laws, in place in America and its protectorates, enforced by the American government in those territories it controls, and only those. When one is not in America or otherwise under the jurisdiction of the American government, one is not bound to obey them.

We're supposed to be liberating these folks - serving as some form of model for behavior, I thought, might be part of the package.

That notion is laughable when viewed in the light of the history of humankind. Much as the ideology of American exceptionalism is fun and dandy, let's be serious. Americans are the same species as anyone else, with the same tendencies and characteristics as anyone out of the darkest episodes of antiquity. Expecting American citizens to magically be more virtuous than their Greek, Roman, Italian, or British counterparts is naive. Demanding that they be so is, as we've seen, ineffective.

Even if law wasn't a consideration, ethics should have been.

Many ethical systems fully sanction doing whatever you please to "bad" people. The Ba'athist government are "bad" people. Therefore, taking their pictures of Saddam and their silverware are perfectly fine. Certainly the Iraqis agree with that by their actions, and since they're the ones whose country the supposed "crime" took place, I assert their moral authority in the matters is more important than yours.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:23 PM on April 23, 2003


Expecting American citizens to magically be more virtuous than their Greek, Roman, Italian, or British counterparts is naive.

Great! When does the raping and slave-taking begin? We WON, dammit! On to the spoils!!
posted by rushmc at 7:36 PM on April 23, 2003


One simple question, how can something with no rightful owner (as these goods seem to have been) be stolen?
Looting art from museums or supplies from hospitals (or breaking into some's home or keeping a wallet you found on the ground) is wrong but I fail to see the the moral offense in taking things from Saddam Hussein who may or may not be alive and who most certainly did not acquire those goods legitimately.
posted by Octaviuz at 7:42 PM on April 23, 2003


Now he was an art thief.

what about this for a "reloot".

Loot? or souvenir?
posted by clavdivs at 8:00 PM on April 23, 2003


Are there acceptions to this claim of stealing?

Brilliant. I meant 'exceptions' of course... sorry.
posted by Witty at 8:09 PM on April 23, 2003


Saddam Hussein who may or may not be alive and who most certainly did not acquire those goods legitimately.

He acquired them according to the law of his land...that's not good enough for you? :)
posted by rushmc at 9:52 PM on April 23, 2003


From today's Boston Herald:
Herald Publisher Patrick Purcell said, ``I am very proud of the job Jules Crittenden has done covering the front lines of the war. I hope this incident won't overshadow the great work he's done. His reporting was superb.''
posted by FreezBoy at 6:37 AM on April 24, 2003


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