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TERENCE SMITH: John Daniszewski, welcome. We’re pleased to see you in Baghdad. What’s it like there tonight, more looting still?
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: Well, I think the looters don’t work at night so much. I think they prefer to work during the day when they can see what they’re taking. The electricity is still off here. I have heard a few fire… well gun firing a little while ago – some heavy machine gun in the distance. There is still pockets of resistance among the Fedayeen I think and now it’s more Iraqis fighting Iraqis than Iraqis versus the Americans.
TERENCE SMITH: We’re seeing pictures however during the day of looting and struggles going on, did you see that?
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: Yes. Of course all day long all over the city people were still looting. I think the best things have been taken but people are looking for other buildings to prey upon or they’re picking over the leavings of other looters and they have been setting fires to some buildings when they finish looting. The national theater for one was set on fire and a future of the ministries. Someone explained to me today that the looters set fires when they leave because there are things they couldn’t take and don’t want anyone else to get them which I thought was strange but it seems to be going on.
TERENCE SMITH: We have headlines here in this country about the looting and destruction in the national museum — the home of some really rare antiquities.
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: Yes. The museum is completely looted and vandalized. All of the exhibits have been taken out as far as we can tell and the ones that were too big to remove people vandalized and destroyed. So it really is a terrible tragedy in terms of loss of national culture. The collection of Mesopotamian artifacts was the greatest in the world — 40,000 years of history gone down the drain in a matter of 24 hours.
TERENCE SMITH: You were at a children’s hospital today, John what, did you see there?
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: Well I was at the children’s hospital. The number of new patients coming in is smaller as the war has diminished and doctors were relieved about that but there were sad scenes out in the yard outside the hospital. This was the Saddam pediatric hospital. Relatives were coming to reclaim the bodies buried in the hospital yard. There was no time to take them to the cemetery during the war. The relatives were coming back slowly looking over all of the graves for ones that had the names of their relatives, very sadly taking shovels and trowels and digging up exposing the bodies lifting them out, putting them in wooden caskets with flags with Koranic sayings on them and taking them away, weeping while they were doing that.
TERENCE SMITH: What is life like there now? Is it even approaching getting back to normal?
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: Well, I took a long walk this evening as dusk was falling through one neighborhood and I was struck by how much life is getting back to normal. I saw women putting out clothes on their clothes lines. I saw a man sitting in a tea house playing dominos. I saw other men gathered in front of a store exchanging gossip and you could almost think there that there had never been a war except I also had the sense that these people as they were smiling at me were somewhat appreciative to have been relieved of the government of Saddam Hussein and the really — the only sign of the war that I saw in the long walk were the barricades that people had put up at the entrances to they’re neighborhoods to keep out looters.
TERENCE SMITH: Are the U.S. forces there beginning to assert themselves in an effort to control looters?
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: They are but it’s still very tentative. Only 20,000 U.S. troops in this city and a stiff 4.5 million. There is a number of factors that plays against them – but I do see them guarding more and more installations. They were out in front of some hospitals today, in front of some ministries, and also enlisting local volunteers to help them push back the looters and keep them in check.
TERENCE SMITH: Okay. John Daniszewski, thank you very, very much.
JOHN DANISZEWSKI: Thank you, Terry.