Voice from the Commonwealth Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams
Praise for Voice
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"Your blog is bullshit"- anonymous angry French reader.
U.S. Marines with machine guns and tanks stood watch Friday over what they estimated was $1 billion in gold - safeguarding bank vaults that withstood direct rocket-propelled grenade hits by robbers determined to fight their way in.
"Fort Knox doesn't have security like this," Staff Sgt. Jack Coughlin of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines said in a bank lobby, as shots rang out outside - U.S. snipers dealing with robbers armed with AK-47s still roaming Baghdad's pillaged banking district.
Days of audacious daylight robberies, thwarted by Marines, have left two blocks of the district a gutted ruin. Scorch marks crowned the windows of several banks, shattered glass crunched thickly underfoot, and scattered documents lay heaped up and down the sidewalks.
Broken glass was inches deep in the Central Bank - a burned-out shell of a building, its interior buried in twisted metal beams from the collapse of the roof and all nine floors under it.
The bank, by some accounts, holds some of the most precious items in Iraq: ancient gold artifacts that were taken from the National Museum for safekeeping before the U.S.-led war started, and stashed in the bank's vaults.
Some Marines suffered from smoke inhalation when entering the burned building. U.S. forces have deemed it too unsound structurally to investigate at length, said Marine Capt. Tim Walker, a 3rd Battalion company commander standing in Friday as Iraqi bank overseer.
So it remained a mystery whether museum artifacts were stashed there and survived.
At least nine huge vaults in the banking district were not destroyed, Walker said.
Intelligence reports given to the Marines indicated Baghdad's wealthy residents deposited their jewelry and other gold valuables in vaults before the war, Walker said. The estimated value was enormous - $1 billion - Marines estimate.
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