Saturday, April 07, 2007

Newsweek Covers Thieving Intern

Denning McTague's fifteen minutes are just about up (ironic that that's also probably about the time he'll spend in jail for selling pieces of the nation's cultural heritage on eBay), but first, the obligatory Newsweek article. Eve Conant has the byline for "To Catch a Thief: It was the perfect setup. How a quiet, unassuming 40-year-old historian got away with some of the nation's priceless historical documents."

Not a bad article, but I'm puzzled by comments from US Attorney Patrick Meehan, who's quoted as saying that the documents McTague stole "are valued well into the tens of thousands. Their intrinsic value may be limited, but they are of incalculable value to historians." Incalculable ... exactly. So why let McTague plead out and get a minimal punishment? Why not throw the book at the guy and take a firm stand against cultural crime, instead of charging him on one count of the least serious possible charge? Incalculable worth, but not worth your time? Bah.