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Returning Iraq's Treasures

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One of the many heartbreaking incidents in the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the way U.S. forces lost track of that ancient country' antiquities. Hundreds were lifted from museums by looters and then vanished into international black markets.

So here's hoping the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol derived some well-deserved pleasure in making the announcement on Thursday that 30 artifacts--silver serving dishes, paintings and jewelry--were recovered and returned to a grateful Iraqi government in a Washington ceremony.

The antiquities--spotted along with a pair of AK-47 rifles--had been brought into the United States illegally, and some were put up for sale on Craigslist. The objects were nabbed during Homeland Security Department operations in Tampa, Newark, El Paso, and Little Rock.

Since 2007, ICE, reports, it as has repatriated more than 2,400 items to more than 20 countries. Among them were paintings from France, Germany and Austria; an 18th-century manuscript from Italy; and a bookmark belonging to Hitler.

Photos and video of the items being returned today can be viewed and downloaded online.

Charles S. Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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