Packing the CPAC
By Peter Tompa
The State Department Cultural Heritage Center Website has announced that Marta de la Torre has taken over a public CPAC slot and that Jane Levine has assumed a trade slot.
President Obama's Administration earlier announced their appointment here: http://m.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/10/07/president-obama-announces-more-key-administration-posts
While both are certainly knowledgeable about the legal issues before CPAC, one can legitimately question whether they really reflect the interests of the stakeholders they were supposedly appointed to represent.
Ms. de la Torre's association with ICOM is more in line with an appointment to represent the museum or archaeological communities rather than the general public. Moreover, though Ms. Levine currently works for Sotheby's (she previously was a prosecutor associated with the FBI's art crime team), the CPIA's legislative history makes clear that the "trade slot" was actually meant for a dealer that has "hands on experience" in the types of artifacts that are subject to possible restriction.
This is just more evidence that the Obama State Department has ensured CPAC is "packed" with members much less likely to "rock the boat" and question the status quo than the likes of Jay Kislak, Bob Korver or Robert O'Brien.
But doesn't this just do more to confirm the widespread view that President Obama is pro-regulation and anti-business? And is the Administration really served if CPAC does not offer a real balance of opinion to the Executive on the often difficult issues before it?
Consensus is only meaningful if it is built from a diversity of views representing all the stakeholders in the process.
Comment by Wayne Sayles:
This "stacking" of CPAC is a sad commentary, but certainly nothing new. It must be a considerable source of embarrassment to ECA that in spite of the stacking of appointees in recent years toward the ideological views of the archaeological establishment CPAC has still recommended that coins be exempt from import restrictions. I guess that embarrassment has now been precluded unless it turns out that the new appointees actually take their responsibilities seriously and are willing to act independently and apply the mandates of CPIA that the law requires.
For the past fifteen years, the CPAC -- originally a balanced and objective panel of experts, as Congress intended in authorizing its formation -- has been carefully and systematically packed with those whose ideological views regarding the international antiquities trade and private collecting of antiquities harmonize with the anticollecting and antitrade views of Maria Papageorge Kouroupas, AKA "Stealth Fighter," presently Cultural Property Staff Executive Director in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US State Department. These appointments appear to be a continuation of that process.
This transformation of the CPAC panel has changed it from a balanced and objective panel of experts into a compliant tool of Kouroupas, which she can rely upon to rubber-stamp agreements that have already been negotiated with foreign governments, to prohibit importation of ancient artifacts into the USA, including ancient coins.
Until the CPAC once again becomes a truly independent, balanced and objective panel of experts, which is not controlled or unduly influenced by any bureaucrat, and which is able to impartially carry out the intent of Congress in administering the 1983 CCPIA implementing US accession to the 1970 UNESCO Convention, ideologically motivated bureaucrats of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will continue to work toward suppression of the international antiquities trade and private collecting of antiquities, including ancient coins. It is difficult to imagine such a transformation occurring while Maria Kouroupas is in charge of that organization.