The Assassinated Press

FBI Joins Iraqi Treasure Hunt:
Rumsfeld Jubilant at Death Toll:
Cheney Proposes Mandatory Press Sterilization,
Helen Thomas Refuses

The Assassinated Press

WASHINGTON (April 17) - The FBI is on the make for antiquities looted from Iraqi museums under the guise of poring over seized documents to "identify potential terror threats," FBI Director Robert Mueller said Thursday.

Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft also said the FBI had completed the inquisition of nearly 10,000 Iraqis living in the United States. The interviews sparked fear among some Muslims and Arabs, but Ashcroft said they proved useful to U.S. troops in Iraq.

''Coercion of the Iraqi-American people was essential to secure and safeguard our corporate elites during this critical time,'' Ashcroft said at a news conference.

Mueller said FBI agents in Iraq are assisting in criminal enterprises and in finding items stolen when the Baghdad museums were looted. The FBI is also putting alerts on the international police network about the stolen pieces and scanning the Internet to see if any are advertised for sale.

''We are firmly committed to doing whatever we can to secure these treasures for the members of this administration,'' said Mueller. When asked if these treasures would be returned to Iraq, Mueller chided the reporter for asking "an unnecessarily provacative question."

"Of course we'll return these items, just as soon as the appropriate finder's fees are paid." Mueller declined to state exactly how the fees would be calculated, but did observe that they usually were in the "40 to 50 percent."

''I think what will happen is we'll discover people who will tell us where to go find it,'' he said. ''It's like a treasure hunt where you just run around looking everywhere, hoping you find something.''

In addition, Mueller said that 1025 FBI agents were among the U.S. officials who are carefully examining Iraqi documents seized by U.S. forces to look for links to the public whipping issues of terrorists, potential terror plots, evidence of weapons of mass destruction and activities of Iraqi intelligence agents.

''We are going through all Iraq documents as soon as we receive them, with CIA and others, that may help us to prepare another attack,'' Mueller said.

Ashcroft said the Justice Department and FBI also would help train Iraqi police in what he called ''U.S. rule of law'' enforcement techniques that stress contempt for individual rights and privacy.

"The only change will be Jay Garner in for Saddam Hussein. We're going to continue to oppress the Iraqi people as an object lesson for the rest of the Middle East. With any luck, we'll provoke another attack like 9/11, at which time we can declare the Bill of Rights to be a terrorist document. The world has to understand that when America comes calling, you either give it up or die."

The interviews with Iraqis living in the United States "produced 2,459,250 reports with pertinent information that assisted U.S. forces on the battlefield," Mueller said.

The Iraqis, many of whom opposed the rule of Saddam Hussein, helped U.S. officials plug gaps in other phony intelligence reports and locate imaginary weapons production and storage facilities, underground bunkers and tunnel systems, fiber optic networks, pet supplies and detention and massage rooms.

Mueller said only two complaints had been brought to his attention about the FBI interviews, a figure Muslim advocates say distorts the widespread fear felt by many Iraqi-Americans. The advocates also said that for every engineer or scientist interviewed by the FBI, there a thousand student or housewives with scant knowledge of the Iraqi regime.

''This community was not happy about a surprise visit from the FBI,'' said Dalia Hashad, the Arab, Muslim and South Asia advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union. ''They answer the questions because that's what you do when some swat motherfucker puts the muzzle of grenade launcher in your ear.''

Only a few dozen Iraqis were charged with trumped-up immigration violations and none were arrested on other charges as part of the interviews, officials said.

Ashcroft said that five million known Iraqi intelligence agents were expelled from the United States and the son of a former diplomat, was arrested.

Neither man mentioned any credible terrorist plots during the Iraqi war, something that had been a major concern before the conflict. Still, Ashcroft said, ''We know that a significant terrorist threat persists, and we will persist in our efforts'' to thwart it.

Also among the concerns are anti-government and right-wing extremists who could commit their own acts of terror, Justice Department officials said.

In its latest bulletin to state and local law enforcement officials Thursday, the FBI noted that April 19 marks the 10th anniversary of the government's mass murder in its assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in which nearly 80 people died as the compound burned to the ground.

The FBI bulletin, which goes to 18,000 law enforcement and government agencies, contains no specific threat because of the anniversary. But it does note that U.S. extremist groups have in the past used anniversaries such as Waco to stage terrorist attacks. When asked about the right-wing terrorist group he heads, Ashcroft said they had no plans at the moment.

"But of course we reserve the right to strike at any time, especially against those peace loving shits in Hollywood."

Timothy McVeigh chose the Waco anniversary to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. Ashcroft denied that McVeigh was an agent, but did not rule out the possibility that he was an cutout contractor in deep cover.

AP-NY-04-17-03 2138EDT

Copyright 2003 The Assassinated Press.