Sunday, 14 June 2009

Blog readership in Foggy Bottom?

The documentation released by the ACCG of its Freedom of Information request took me back to the days when I used to sit in a dreary Ministry office in a palace in a park, surrounded by lawyers and administrators processing very similar material concerning appeals from decisions made by the provincial monuments curators. These were of two types. Many were appeals from crafty businessmen thwarted from making money out of destroying the cultural heritage, but then for a bit of light bureaucratic entertainment were the stubborn individuals playing David with the governmental Goliath. They obviously had surprising amounts of time on their hands and a rabid hatred of the conservation services coupled with a certain knowledge of the legal obligations of state administration and not a little initiative in trying to use them against our inspectors. Some of these cases dragged on years and ate up resources that should have been being used elsewhere. It was the job of the office I worked in to deal with the mountains of paperwork these trouble-makers generated knowing that in the end it would all end up in the Higher Administrative Court. Of course the main aim was to make sure that the ultimate decision came down in favour of the protection of the cultural heritage, and for this we had some superb lawyers (the late Albert Soldani is one I will always remember).

So I was recently looking at the ACCG submissions with the eye of someone at the receiving end. The Department of State have obviously done this before and as far as I can see its going well for them. This will be all but over soon I suspect. So what are the International Association of Professional Numismatists (“IAPN”), the Professional Numismatists Guild (“PNG”), and the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild (“ACCG”), going to do if they fail to get more documents from the State Department than they’ve got? Their case falls flat, since they can hardly go to court over their illegally imported Chinese and Cypriot coins with Mr Tompa’s conspiracy theories and whatever it is that Jay Kislak asserts. That’s just a waste of time and their members’ money.

The latest document in the trail which the ACCG has published is a bit of whining and wheedling from the plaintiffs. In it we read:
“Defendant claims ACCG is pursuing that matter in support of the “commercial interests” of some its benefactors. This tact, evidently cribbed from some of the more outspoken archaeological blogs, is not only inaccurate, but beside the
point. See (last visited June 2, 2009) and
(last visited June 2, 2009).”
Now interestingly, the blogs to which Scott Hodes the Washington lawyer refers are explicitly named by Sayles and Tompa. They are those of Nathan Elkins and myself. I am flattered by the suggestion that the State Department might be cribbing ideas how to fight these people from what I write. I doubt that really is the case. Actually Mr Hodes, it is not irrelevant that this matter is pursued for commercial reasons, it is very much relevant to the case.

[If, however, by any chance its author is right and the State Department really is lost for ideas dealing with this menace to the international reputation of the United States and is reduced to looking at opinions expressed on blogs like this, I'd be glad to help out. Although I cannot speak for Mr Elkins, if required, I announce my readiness to come over to Foggy Bottom and for what it’s worth give the State Department some thoughts on how to deal with the troublesome "coineys" and their ilk, once and for all. In four steps. But if the ACCG et al. are not very careful the US administration is likely to come to the same conclusions by themselves, and then all portable artefact collectors (not just "coineys") will be sorry they listened to Messers Sayles and Tompa and all the rest of their supporters. I raise a glass to them].

Photo: Houses in Foggy Bottom (atmospheric shot by by Tiggerlane, the Neophyte Blogger)


Nathan T. Elkins said...

It is easy to blame the blogs, but honestly I think anyone looking at the issue with half a brain can tell it is a commercially-driven lawsuit. Simply look at the major financial contributors to the ACCG and the composition of its leadership. Certainly the IAPN and PNG are trade groups. Curiously, the ACCG simply tries to mask that it is also one.


Paul Barford said...

Well, sadly I too think the State Department came to this conclusion by itself, so I guess we will not be needed in Washington. I think the documents show that the SD really has nothing to "fear" from the ACCG and all the latter can do is huff and puff. They should have gone for co-operation and not confrontation.

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